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How Do I Wean My 2-Year-Old From The Bottle?

Pediatricians recommend that babies beginning transitioning from bottles to sippy cups at around a year and be completely weaned by 18 months. But what if you missed the memo? How do you wean a 2-year-old from the bottle and why is weaning important?

Art Nowak, a professor of pediatric dentistry and pediatrics at the University of Iowa told Parents that bottles can cause damage to a toddler’s teeth. Any liquid other than water creates acidic solution that is washes over the teeth and decalcifies them which can lead to tooth decay. Also, toddlers who still use bottles tend to drink almost double the amount of ounces in milk as the daily recommended servings. This can cause them to decline solid foods containing important nutrients.

On another note, Keith T. Ayoob, professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine explained to WebMD that research shows that toddlers who are still drinking out of a bottle at age two have an increased risk of obesity by the age of six. This is because some children fill up on milk, and then still eat plenty of solid foods causing them to ingest too many calories. So if you're trying to transition your baby from bottle to big kid cup, here are a few tips.

1. Try Out Different Cups

When you first start to transition from bottle to cup, you will have to experiment. Give your toddler some options and see which one he likes best. You may find that he will drink juice or water from one kind of cup, and only drink milk from another.

2. Substitute Cups For Morning And Midday Bottles

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Instead of giving your toddler a bottle first thing in the morning, fill her favorite cup with milk. If she is reluctant, encourage her by telling her that a "big girl who drinks in a cup like Mommy." Do the same during lunch. If your toddler refuses to drink the milk, WebMD tells parents not to worry about not giving your child enough calcium. Your child can get calcium from cheese, yogurt,broccoli, and calcium-fortified orange juice.

3. Establish A Routine During Bedtime That You Will Continue After Weaning

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When you decide to wean your toddler from his night time bottle, make sure to set up and follow a bedtime ritual. It can be something like: bath, pajamas, bedtime snack, brush teeth, tuck-in, story, prayers, and light’s out. This routine will continue throughout and after weaning so that your toddler can associate the routine with sleep, rather than the bottle.

4. Offer A New Comfort Item During Bedtime Bottle

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If your child doesn’t have a lovey, you can introduce one before you begin weaning. This can be a stuffed animal, a blanket, or other soft toy that he can take into bed and can act as a source of comfort if he has been falling asleep with a bottle.

5. Dilute Bedtime Bottles

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The bedtime bottle is the hardest for most toddlers to give up. You can start by giving her two options, milk diluted with water from a bottle or an undiluted sippy cup of milk. If she chooses the bottle, continue to add more water each night until the bottle is only water and the cup is the only option for milk. If she still refuses to drink milk from the cup, remember that toddlers only need two to three servings of dairy a day according to a Parents interview with pediatrician Suzanne Corrigan, MD.

6. Offer Praise Or A Reward Every Time The Child Drinks From A Cup Instead Of A Bottle

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Praising or rewarding your toddler each time he drinks milk from a cup instead of a bottle can be a good incentive. It can be a sweet treat or a sticker. You can even get a small rubber stamp at the craft store to stamp the back of his hand. It may take some time and a few tears, but eventually your little one will be off the bottle for good.