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Weaning - Promoting Healthy Growth and Development

Tips for using a cup

Strive to have your baby using a cup instead of a bottle around 1 year of age. And help your child to start using a lidless cup by age 2. To help get your baby learn to use a cup, try these tips:

  • Show your baby different types of cups and let him or her choose.
  • Try to use cups with a spout, two handles, and a rounded, weighted bottom. If your baby accidentally bumps the cup, it will stay upright and less liquid will be spilled.
  • If the cup does not have a lid and spout, put only about one sip of liquid at a time in the cup, in case your baby tips the cup over.
  • Do not be upset if your baby just wants to play with the cup at first.

And to help prevent injuries from using bottles and cups during unsteady walking, have your child stay seated while drinking.

Gradual weaning

A gradual weaning slowly reduces the number of breast- or bottle-feedings. One feeding is eliminated every 5 to 7 days, giving the mother and baby time to adjust. Gradual weaning helps maintain emotional attachment, prevents breast engorgement for mothers who are breast-feeding, and allows the baby to learn other ways of eating. Gradual weaning is generally planned to suit both the mother's and child's needs.

Gradual weaning is best for both you and your baby. It is recommended for babies unless the mother has a medical condition that does not allow it.

Abrupt weaning

Abrupt weaning is a sudden end to breast- or bottle-feeding and can be hard for both the mother and the child. The breast-feeding mother may experience painful breast engorgement and has an increased risk for a breast infection (mastitis). Both the mother and the child may miss the emotional attachment and closeness of breast- or bottle-feeding.

Your child may respond to abrupt weaning by:

  • Refusing to drink from a cup for a period of time. Prolonged refusal to drink from a cup can lead to dehydration and nutritional deficiencies.
  • Sucking his or her thumb.

Times you may not want to wean

You may not want to wean your baby:

  • When a child is learning new skills. Learning new skills, such as crawling or walking, can be stressful for your child, and the breast or bottle may provide comfort and security.
  • When there is stress in the home. A new tooth, an illness, a new day care center, or the caregiver starting back to work can all be stressful. Weaning at this time, or during any difficult time, results in more stress and more difficulty weaning.
  • During unusually warm weather. During weaning, babies sometimes refuse any liquid other than breast milk or formula for 24 to 48 hours. So weaning your baby when it's very hot outdoors can put your baby at risk for dehydration.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 25, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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