WEANING a child off the bottle is an uphill task for many parents. The fact is, babies associate their bottles with not just food, but feeding time for many children is synonymous with comfort. As such, when parents decide that it is time to boot the bottle, it can become a high-conflict situation since some children might strongly reject the sippy cups.
Is bottle-weaning your child a challenge? Parents who have won the battle against the bottle share a list of tips on making the transition to cups.
Kathy, 37, pharmacist: I am not a very nice mama. I did the same trick with my own nipples with the artificial nipple. I, on my mother's recommendation, applied single bible (aloe vera) to the nipples of my son's bottles. Within a week, even though he tried very hard to feed from the bottle, even with its strong bitter taste he started to refuse the bottle. I think he eventually got fed up and lost every enthusiasm for the bottle while he got better at holding his cup and drinking from it; we made sure to use the non-spill version to make things easier and so he wouldn't make a mess.
Jody-Ann, 26, social worker: So, I always tell mothers, no matter the technique that you are going to use to wean, you must be consistent. This is imperative to ensuring success. With my first child, I would give in every time she cried and my heart broke, or she wouldn't take anything else, but that is only because kids don't want to change once they become comfortable with something. I bought a transitioning sippy cup and one of a similar colour for myself, and since she liked sharing with me, I would drink from mine and once it gets her attention I would give her fluids in her cup. I also gave her the cup every opportunity possible and since I wasn't always home, I made sure that each caregiver understood that we are moving away from the bottle and needed to encourage her to drink from the cup. It took a while to make the transition but eventually she made the switch.
Thalia, 30, teacher: My 18-month-old would keep the bottle in his mouth the entire day, so it was more than feeding for him; it was his comfort. So a friend told me to get him stuffed animals and I got him a koala bear, panda, and a llama — he has a special liking for these. I started giving him and he gradually would put down the bottle after he was full and brushed his finger against one of his stuffed toys until he would fall asleep. I was also able to spoon feed him and eventually got him off the bottle entirely. Getting him to make the transition took about three to four months but it happened eventually.
Donna, 41, community health aide: From as early as my children would take the sippy cups, I would always give it to them with even water after feeding. Then I would slowly start giving them less bottle and more of the cup. Sometimes, they would ask and I would distract them with the cup by putting colourful stickers on the little sippy. After a while, they won't ask. I must say one of my children who found comfort in sucking on the bottle, even after it was empty, started developing a finger sucking habit, but I discouraged it and within a few weeks she stopped.
Sharon, 38, physiotherapist: Bottle weaning was different for my two children. In one child the transition was effortless, almost, but my daughter really wasn't a big fan of the bottle anyway. So with her, I just gave her a sippy cup whenever she would get water and juice and she was really receptive, so I gave it to her at all feeding times and there was no fuss. With my son, I had more responsibilities, and therefore less time to spend with him, and so whenever he would fuss I would just pop the bottle in his mouth. Big mistake! He became very attached and I had to fight to get him off the habit. Seven months or eight is when I introduced the cup first. He had no interest, so someone recommended I get some with vibrant colours. He was obviously more excited, but was not using the cup and all. So, I had to take drastic measures after a few months of him throwing tantrums whenever I gave him the bottle. I soaked the bottle nipples in aloe vera and even put some in his formula. He spat, tested and spat, and tested some more. Eventually, when he got hungry, he took it, and it continued like this until he realised the taste of the nipples and formula was no longer delicious. I just made sure to keep getting interesting cups he would like.
Desrine, 32, store manager: My kiddo loved sucking on his bottle, even after finishing the content of the bottle. I realised where things were headed so I started to take the bottle away as soon as the milk was finished and then I would just stick a pacifier in his mouth, for his comfort. After this, I tried to do more spooning and I fed him juice from a cup. It was important that I made sure no bottle was in sight when doing this or he wouldn't eat and he would throw a tantrum. He would still say “ba ba”, meaning he wanted a bottle at bedtime, but I did other things like reading to him and on occasions I would give him a pacifier or give him his favourite toy to sleep with.