Weaning from Night-time Bottles

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Getting a 2+ year old off the bedtime bottle

Sept 2005

Wondering if anyone has any tips on getting their child off the bedtime milk bottle? I have a 2+ year old & only kept him on it this long because he needed the calories(skinny) and I'm not sure he can sooth himself to sleep any other way. Any tricks, tips that have worked for people would be appreciated!! thanks- Mary

We were giving our 18-month-old a 4-oz bottle of milk before each of his two naps and before bed at night. He recently had stomach flu and couldn't have dairy. At first he was so sick that he didn't want the bottle. When he started getting better, I put soy milk in the bottle instead. He didn't like the taste, and pushed the bottle away (went to sleep normally). When I tried giving him regular milk again, he was still suspicious, thinking I'd give him the soy milk, so he refused the bottle. Just like that, problem solved. So, try giving him soy milk, or otherwise change what you're offering (cold vs. warm, or fat-free vs. whole milk). Whatever works!

2-year-old needs a bottle to fall asleep

June 2003

Our two year old just started sleeping through the night six months ago. We usually give her a bottle to go to sleep. In the last month or so, she has been waking frequently (three or more times) during the night, crying out and asking for a new bottle. All the crying and whining is killing me. She seems like such a big girl during the day, she seems to enjoy talking. I try to comfort her and ask her what's wrong in the night, but the bottle seems to be the only thing that consoles her. I want to wean her from the bottle, but I need to find a new method of getting her back to sleep, making the bottle less desirable. I have been trying for a few nights to teach her to comfort her doll when she wakes up, but as of yet she hasn't bought it. We always give in and make her a new bottle because we're so exhausted and we know it works. This also means that we have to change her diaper in the middle of the night, which is a milestone we thought we had already passed. We are also trying to potty train during the day when we're at home. I don't put any pressure on her to do it, but maybe it's too much? My feeling is that her potty training progress will speed up when the bottle goes away and she stays dryer at night, thus getting used to feeling dry. How have others weaned their children from the bottle in bed? Melissa

My baby is only 15-months old, so she may go back to the bottle, but I've done that has worked so far is substitute her milk bottle for a water bottle. That's not nearly as satisfying, so she just goes back to sleep after sipping very little. Lately she hasn't woken up at all. anon

We started leaving a sippy cup full of water in my son's crib (he's two, but still sleeps there). We told him that he could not have milk in the crib, but that if he is thirsty he can have a drink of water. We explained this during the day at naptime, and about an hour before he went to bed, as well as pointing out to him at bedtime that the cup of water was there if he needed it. It actually seems to have worked fairly well; we hear him wake up and drink water once or twice at night, and then go back to sleep. Of course, we haven't even tried to keep him dry at night yet. Karen

I suggest that you relax a bit! Potty training AND changing the bedtime routine are a bit much for a two year old to deal with, separately or together. Most kids are potty trained during the day for a while before they are at night, and more kids are trained at 3 than at 2.

As for the bottle, many 2yo's still need to suck. If she's not nursing and she doesn't use a pacifier, it's reasonable for her to continue to use the bottle as a comfort thing for sleep. But you should fill it with water, which won't cause tooth decay. You might also try substituting a sippy cup or sport bottle (my son likes the ones with a built-in straw). In any case, fill it and leave it within her reach on a nightstand so that you don't have to get up and get her anything.

It's not necessary to change her diaper unless she poops. If you're experiencing leaks, use an extra absorbent overnight type if she's in disposables, or double them if she's in cloth. Holly

I didn't read your message initially and only saw the responses. I just wanted to say that I drank from a bottle until I was five! Granted, my bottle drinking stemmed from feeling comforted by it. Mom said I started going to school and I didn't drink from a bottle there, but once I got home, I'd plop myself on the couch and drink to my heart's content. I think it was to ''de-stress''. Gradually, I realized that none of my classmates were doing it and so I ''weaned'' myself. I'm glad my mother didn't ''make'' me stop.

I didn't ask Mom about my potty training during the early years, so I'm not sure how they dealt with that. I DO know though that while I was definitely completely potty trained by the time I went to school, I did not do the ''number 2'' while at school and waited until I got home. I found out that my niece does the same thing now. Maybe TMI? :-) Good luck!

2-year-old wakes up frequently for bottle

Nov 2003

My 2 year old daughter was breastfed until the age of one. She now falls asleep with a bottle of milk and frequently wakes up at night to have more. She is comforted by the sucking sensation and will then fall back to sleep in seconds. However, she very rarely just sleeps throught the night. I have recently changed to skim milk because of the heavy nighttime digestion of the whole milk (I want her digestive system to have a rest). I have heard that sleeping with the bottle is bad for teeth, so I have tried to give her just water which she doesn't like at night. Any advice about weaning her off the nighttime bottle? Or giving her something to drink that will not affect her teeth? Or any other advice? toddler mommy

My daughter used to fall to sleep with a bottle too. One day we bit the bullet (at around 16 months) and told her that milk was for before bed and she only gets water in bed. She was very upset with us for several nights and woke often but finally she gave in (less than a week). She is two now and still has a bottle of water in bed with her. I guess the next step after that is to give them a sippy cup of water in bed. Good luck anon

I would definitely wean from a milk bottle at night - both skim and whole will wreak havoc on her teeth! I think, though, that water is just fine. Try very gradually watering down the bed bottle, starting with maybe just a tablespoon of water. Very gradually put in more water and less milk each night, until it's just water. Weak, unsweetened herbal tea (like peppermint) may be acceptable to her, too. It could be the ''special bedtime drink'' R.K.

Are you making sure she gets enough calories during the day? Toddlers can get so busy during the day that they don't eat/drink enough. Try feeding her in a quiet undistracting place during the day to see if that helps. Anon