Weaning a toddler from bottle-feeding

Many of the tips for weaning babies from bottle-feeding can be used for toddlers (ages 1 to 2). Here are some suggestions unique to toddlers:

  • Do not allow a toddler to carry the bottle around. Explain to your toddler that he or she can have milk only at mealtimes and snack times and in specific locations, such as in the kitchen. This makes drinking from the bottle less convenient and may also improve your toddler's eating habits.
  • Help transfer the toddler's attachment from the bottle to another comfort object. When your toddler asks for the bottle outside of meal or snack time, encourage the use of a comfort object, such as a stuffed animal, blanket, or doll. For example, tie an empty bottle securely around the neck of a favorite stuffed animal or other comfort object, then remove the bottle after your toddler thinks of the new object as the source of comfort (after a few days or weeks). Make sure the bottle is tied securely and that the string has no slack or loose ends that could become wrapped around your child's neck and cause choking.
  • Make changes in the toddler's routine, especially the rituals that are connected to bottle-feeding. For example, after a fall, comfort your toddler with hugs and attention rather than the bottle.
  • Keep the toddler busy with new activities. This can be in the home or in a museum, at a zoo, or at playgrounds.
  • Make a cup part of weaning. Make using a cup part of your baby's solid-meal routine. Then gradually eliminate his or her bottle-feedings.

Last Updated: June 19, 2008

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