Bottle to Cup?

Dear Mamas,
My almost-1-year-old is about to switch from formula to regular milk and I’ve heard this is a good time to toss the bottle habit. Right now she’s taking the bottle about 3 times a day — once in the morning right after she wakes up, once before her nap, and sometimes after her last feeding at night before bed. We’ve already introduced her to a cup, but she finds the bottle more soothing and seems to use it for comfort as much as anything. Is there a ‘right time’?

Cassie in LA

Dear Cassie,

While there’s no right time to switch to a cup, the switch from formula to whole milk offers a great opportunity (note: babes need the fat content of whole milk until age 2 for brain development, then you can switch to low-fat). Most little ones prefer the taste of milk and are interested in the novelty of the sippy cup, so chances are she’ll jump right in.

One caution about continuing the bottle: When babies take a bottle to bed – or crib – it needs to be pure water only. This is because the natural sugars in milk, formula, or juice can sit in the mouth overnight and cause tooth decay … even in teeth that haven’t erupted yet! That’s why you sometimes see toddlers walking around with darkened front teeth called baby bottle carries. Not good.

So start out with milk ONLY from the sippy cup – don’t let her get the taste of it from the bottle and she’ll catch on fast. If she wants milk, it’s in the cup. Those few with strong opinions may fight it for awhile, but we have a technique for that, too.

Start watering down that formula with a few ounces of water, increasing each day. Of course we’re only talking about ages one and up here, younger babies shouldn’t have watered down formula. That gets yucky fast and she’ll be grabbing that cup. Same goes for juice … cup only. Bottle for comfort? Water only.

You’ll be tossing those bottles in no time!

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Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?

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