I’m having trouble getting my two-year-old son to give up his bottle. When my husband or I don’t give it to him, he just cries until we give in. How can I wean my son off from his bottle and get him to use a cup instead?
Firstly, kudos to you and your husband for trying to wean your son off the bottle. Weaning a child off the bottle before the age of 18 months old is important as prolonged bottle feeding is associated with dental caries, excessive milk intake and iron-deficiency. It is, however, by no means an easy task for both the child and parents. As parents, it is difficult to not give in when he cries but it is essential that you remain determined, loving and supportive throughout the whole journey.
You may find the following tips useful:
Choose the correct feed
Start with his midday feed and give him time to learn to use the cup. Once he figures out how to use the cup, gradually replace the morning and evening feeds. The bedtime bottle is often the most difficult for a child to give up, so save that for the last. The good news though, is that after the age of one, he should no longer require anything to eat or drink during the night. Thus, you can remove the bedtime feed.
Make it fun
You can use a training cup with a spout or a regular cup. Choose a cup that is attractive, perhaps in his favourite colour or one that has his favourite cartoon/storybook character.
Your son may demand the bottle at first. If he asks for the bottle, persist in offering the cup. Use the same cup each time. It also helps to avoid sitting in your favourite nursing chair or familiar areas of the house where he usually uses the bottle.
It may take a few weeks for him to learn how to use the cup properly. It can get frustrating but always remember to be patient with him.
Involve the family
Everyone who feeds him should be roped in and be on board with the weaning plans.
Always do it in a loving way
Talk to him about the process and explain to him what you are trying to achieve. Hold him if he needs soothing. Children thrive on praises and rewards, so remember to applaud every achievement along the weaning journey, both big and small.
It is paramount that the weaning is done gradually and not suddenly - “cold-turkey”. After all, the bottle may be what he has been used to since birth. All the best to you and I hope that your son will enjoy using the cup soon!
Question answered by:
Dr Jeanette Tan
Department of General Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine Service
KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital