The process of weaning your infant from a bottle actually starts around 6 months of age. Usually at this time in your baby’s life he/she is ready to start being introduced to baby foods and cups.
• Step One: Introducing a cup is actually the first step towards weaning. Start practicing when your baby is in the high chair or sitting on your lap with a cup filled less than half way with water.
• Step Two: Start offering the bottle after meals. As soon as your baby is taking a cup well, you can start offering formula in the cup rather than the bottle.
• Step Three: Increase the use of the cup and begin decreasing the use of the bottle.
• Step Four: Once a baby is eating a variety of foods, and having 3 meals per day, only offer the bottle between meals as a “snack”. Your baby will be more likely to eat well and drink from a cup if the cup is ½ full with formula.
• Step Five: Slowly replace one bottle at a time with the cup until the bottle can be completely removed.
• Step Six: Be patient! It can takes weeks for a baby to be completely weaned off the bottle.
*Remember: Formula is still baby’s primary source of nutrition and should be continued to be offered until one year of age.
Helpful Tips for Weaning:
• It may help to keep the bottle out of sight so your baby doesn’t ask for it. Think “out of sight out of mind!”
• Don’t try weaning when your baby is sick or on medication. Wait until your baby is well to begin weaning again.
• Be wary of sippy cups! They may encourage tooth decay just like bottles. Do not allow your infant to continuously sip sugary beverages (such as juice, sweet tea, etc.), or formula out of a sippy cup.
• Offer water to your older infant (6 to 12 months of age) when they are thirsty between meals and snacks.
Whether your baby is using a sippy cup, regular cup, or bottle, don’t allow your child to drink/sip all day long. Sips of any beverage with calories (especially ones that contain sugar) will set your baby up for tooth decay. A healthy baby does not need any other fluids except water, breast milk, or formula. If you choose to give your baby juice wait until 12 months of age and dilute the juice with 50% water.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby bottle tooth decay, nursing bottle mouth, and bottle rot all describe a serious dental disease affecting infants and children. It may involve one or several teeth, and usually occurs on the upper front teeth.
This tooth decay usually begins during early infancy and childhood and is caused by liquids that contain sugar that are left in a baby’s mouth frequently and for long periods of time. For example, if your baby falls asleep with a bottle, the liquid stays in the mouth and lies on the teeth. Even formula and liquid medicines have sugars in them and can contribute to tooth decay.
The decay may cause pain, crooked permanent teeth, ear and speech problems, cavities, and possible emotional problems due to poor appearance of teeth. Tooth decay is very expensive, painful to repair, and is 100% preventable!
Source: WIC educational materials “How to Wean Your Infant From the Bottle”