Weaning Toddlers & Preschoolers from the Bottle

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions about Toddlers Questions about 2 - 5 year olds

One-year-old will no longer accept the bottle

April 2002

My now almost 1 year old will no longer take a bottle. I work, but mostly from home and so have been able to nurse him during work hours most of the time. I used to express milk and have him use a bottle, which he took well. Then, a series of illnesses, vacations and the like, meant that he had no bottle for 6-8 weeks (around 9-10 months). Now he won't take a bottle at all, just chewing on the nipple and getting a little liquid. He's fascinated by cups, but isn't doing too well with a sippy cup. At this point, there are times I have to be away from him for 8 hours or more -- yesterday, from 9 am until after his bedtime -- and he still won't really drink much during this time. I thought he might break down and use the bottle when I was gone all day and evening, but no luck. Any ideas about how to either get him back on a bottle or get him to move more quickly onto a sippy cup? Sabrina

When I initially tried to get my then 13-month-old son to use a sippy cup, all he wanted to do was shake the cup and throw it. I tried it with the stopper in and with it out (a mistake, because milk went flying all over as he shook the cup). Finally, I just showed him how Mommy was drinking from the cup. I let him see me from a side view and face- on, and, amazingly, he drank, too. I guessed that he hadn't understood the principle of sucking out the liquid. Good luck. Gwynne

My daughter never drank out of a bottle - we tried every brand made! Luckily, I stayed home and could nurse her exclusively for the first 10 months or so. Finally, we discovered (by accident) that she liked drinking through a straw. So we bought some little straw cups by Playtex and all was well! Later we found ''juice box'' cups by Rubbermaid that also work and are much cheaper. Jaime

My daughter (17 months old) recently came down with hand- foot-mouth disease, and refused her bottle because of the blisters in her mouth. The only way she would drink her milk (which she was still taking in a bottle) was from a cup with a straw. There are lots of different straw- included cups/sports bottles available (I got some at Albertson's, they are probably elsewhere, too). Now that she is well, she has not gone back to the bottle, and takes milk from a straw-cup in the morning, and a ''sports bottle'' (with spill-proof valve) during the day. Maybe the straws would be the thing for your child. Good luck. Donna

My daughter is also one year old, and she doesn't use a bottle. She used to get expressed milk from a bottle, but she's eating more now. I still nurse her about three or four times a day (including before bed and first thing in the morning). She drinks all other liquids from a regular cup. We hold the cup for her so that she doesn't spill much. She's just starting to use sippy cups, but she hasn't quite figured out that she needs to hold the cup up for liquid to come out, so I'm helping her learn. If I were you, I wouldn't try to get him to take bottles anymore. He sounds ready to learn about cups, like my daughter, but he'll need lots of practice to get it right. He can drink expressed milk from a cup. My daughter drank expressed milk from a cup for a few weeks, but now she takes juice or water instead. Christina

You didn't mention if you are feeding your son solid food yet, nor how he likes it. But at a year old, I'd guess he's already got some favorites. If I recall the advice i've gotten through doctors, books and other parents, after a year, a child recieves most of his or her nutrition through solid foods, not through breast milk. You might want to check with your doctor on that. A year-old still needs a certain amount of milk, but it may not need to be strictly breast milk. If your doctor okays it--and you do too--try cow, goat, or soy milk. I also recommend the book Super Baby Foods for learning more about feeding an older baby.

But back to the bottle. Perhaps the problem isn't the bottle so much as what's in it. My son started taking the bottle again when I gave him anything other than breast milk--for that he wanted nothing but the natural container. He pretty quickly picked up using a sippy cup at about a year old, and likes a variety of different liquids. If you try a sippy cup, remember that you might have to try different kinds before you find one that your son likes.

You don't need to wean completely at this stage, even if most of your son's nurtition is coming from elsewhere. Breastfeeding will become something different, no less nurturing, but different. My son is 18 months old, and I remember feeling a small sort of loss when my milk became secondary to solid food. But now I love the changes and how he is growing. We nurse once or twice a day, and it's a very special time for both of us. And it's a blast to help him explore the world of food, especially here in Berkeley! Carolyn

We have never had any luck with sippy cups. But our 13 month old now drinks expertly from a regular cup. Sure, it takes a bit of supervision. We aren't fans of traipsing about the house with food and/or drink, anyways. Why not try going straight to a regular cup, and skip the sippy? And thank your lucky stars that you won't have to ''wean'' from the bottle! Debbi

Which sippy cups are you using that are causing your son trouble? My son had a horrible time with the Playtex ones at the same age. They are very popular, so they must work well for other kids, but my son couldn't get anything out. The valve was too strong for him. Instead we bought the cups made by first years. Instead of having a thick valve, the cup lid has a little plastic flim with a slit in it that was much easier for him. They are not as water-tight as the playtex though... they will leak if tipped over or upsidedown, but at least the baby can drink from them. Rose

Have you tried a sippy cup with handles on both sides. That seemed to be the key for my guy. Sharon


13-month-old: trying to wean but she won't drink milk from a cup

Nov 2003

The latest info I have is that by 13/14 months toddlers should be taking all fluids from a cup. Any experiences with this. My daughter is 13 months, drinks water from a cup but milk from a bottle.We have tried giving her milk in a sippy cup but she will only take a few sips and then leaves it. She gets bottles before naps and bedtime, she drinks down the bottles pretty quickly- 6 oz. in about 5 mins. I don't leave a bottle with her either. So what is the harm? I don't want her to be drinking from a bottle at 2 but does that mean I need to wean her from it ASAP? Any thoughts would be helpful. Thanks MC

Yes, replace the bottle. Your child needs to develop all the muscles in her mouth - necessary for speech. The muscles used in cup and bottle drinking are different. Replace the least ''emotional'' or ''required'' bottle first. Your child will drink milk again from the cup, guaranteed. Lisa

Our daughter weaned from the bottle at almost 2 years so you are not too late. We waited until after completing a long (7 week) trip so that she wouldn't regress back to the bottle. It was surprisingly easy to get her to give up the bottle. Following her daycare teacher's advice, we diluted her bottled milk with water--3/4 milk for several days, 1/2 milk for several days and by the time we reached 1/4 milk, she wasn't really interested. At the same time, we provided regular milk in her cup.

my daughter was still drinking out of her bottle at 18months when we went to visit a friend who just had a baby boy. when we returned home, we gathered all her bottles in a zip lock bag and told her that bottles are for babies like baby niko and she agreed. she's been drinking out of sippy cup ever since. good luck! it worked for me. amy

I have left the bottle (and thumb-sucking) question up to our dentist. My daughter had her first (and so far only) dentist appointment when she turned three and the dentist said her one bottle of milk in the evening and her thumb sucking is not damaging her teeth. She drinks milk during the day from a cup, she just likes a warm bottle before bed. The bottle and the thumb don't bother me or my husband at all, so our daughter knows that when the dentist says it! is time for the bottle and the thumb to go, then it is time. (we'll see how this goes when it happens) anon

My 22 month old still drinks his milk from a bottle. It's the only way he'll do it, plus it helps him sleep for bedtime and naps. As long as he gets his milks somehow, I don't see what the harm is Jill

My 2 girls loved their bottles and drank their morning and evening milk off it until the oldest was 4 years old and the youngest was 2 1/2. I don't think there is any problem with this. They drank out of the bottle as they would have from a cup or glass and it was less mess. The issue here is more about having the bottle as a companion all day long and in bed at night. So relax... your baby is growing too fast anyway so let him enjoy his bottle ! valerie

Personally, I have ignored the advice to wean my kids from the bottle at 1 year. I just didn't buy any of the reasons that were given. The reason that I most often heard for the recommendation was that it is easier to wean from the bottle earlier... that wasn't good enough in my opinion. I figured that if my baby (and one is still a baby in my book) still wanted his bottle I wasn't going to force him to give it up. My oldest son stopped drinking from his bottle at 2.5 without any problems or trauma. It was easy. We just told him one day that there were no more bottles because he had bitten through all of the nipples. He accepted it, and even at his grumpiest didn't ask for a bottle again after the first two days.

The other reason that I head to wean from the bottle was that the bottle would lead to an overbite. Well, may be it could, but probably genetics is a bigger factor than bottle use. I figure that based on the orthodontic histories on both sides of our family we are paying for braces on the permanent teeth anyway. getting rid of the bottle isn't going to save us any money. I am not going to drive my kid crazy taking away his bottle before he is ready.

The third reason I heard was that it could lead to tooth decay. That doesn't seem like an issue to me if you continue following the same guidlines you used before your baby was one: no bottle in bed, no juice in the bottle, no walking around with the bottle, brush the teeth twice a day, etc.

The fourth reason I heard was that if the baby keeps drinking from a bottle it is possible that the baby will fill up on milk and not eat enough variety of foods at meals. Well by one my boys were only drinking two bottles a day and were eating lots, and bottles were never offered around meal times.

In my opinion this guideline is just a trend. I think there are enough things to worry about as a parent, I am not going to go nuts about something that seems arbitrary to me. My second son is 20 mos. At his 18 month well baby check up the advice sheet we were given said to wean by 18 mos. Hmmm three years ago the sheet said 12 mos... did they change their minds.

Personally, I think it is a decision that you should make based on what you think is best for your child. If you don't want your kid to have a bottle at two, set that as your deadline. If you want to make it sooner or later, do that too. If you think your dr. will give you greif, just don't discuss it with him. renegade mom

My toddler used a bottle till he was two. I couldn't think of any reason not to let him. I think pediatricians and dentists vary in their advice about this. Certainly there's a lot of pressure from friends and relatives to get them off the bottle at one, but what the heck. The only reason we stopped using a bottle at two was that I just was tired of washing bottles, so when we came back from a vacation, the bottles all disappeared. He asked for it the first day, but not after that. If he had had a really hard time with the transition I probably would have let him keep it a while longer but he didn't. He didn't use the bottle for going to sleep, so we didn't have to deal with that, thank goodness. After the switch, he drank a LOT less milk. Milk from a bottle, he would drink30 or 40 oz a day. Milk from a cup was maybe 16 oz. at best. I discussed this with his pediatrician, he said 16-20 is fine since he is also eating yogurt and cheeses and of course lots of other foods. Ginger

Our 26-month old still uses a combo of bottles and cups. At her 2-year visit, we pushed her pediatrician (who had been telling us to get her off bottles earlier) pretty hard on why did she have to stop using bottles (she drinks from them in 2 minutes or less) and the ped, reluctantly, admitted that the real cut-off is age 3 and that there is some concern re bottles if they're still using them at 3. I think most kids drop bottles when they are ready (like everything else) and that this is yet another area where there's more stress and strain that really necessary. If you don't mind and your child really wants it, just try to diminish slowly. One option is to always offer milk in a cup with her meals and eventually your child will get used to it -- expect to have to offer many times before it actually gets drunk from the cup! Still using bottles too

Well, I do agree with you that is not the end of the world for your child to still be using a bottle at this age, however, I also agree with what you have been reading in that it is much, much harder to break the habit later on. From my experience the key is introducing the cup with their favorite things, juice and milk. Although she may not like the cup she will want those things and if that is the only way it is given to her she will warm up to the idea. I might even switch to water in the bottle to make it less appealing. courtney

My kids are a little older than yours, and I had never heard 12 months as a ''deadline'' to get off the bottle! Both my kids used bottles for much longer than that, though I think we limited it to ''at home only'' when they reached about age 2. My older one still liked a bottle at supper until (hard to believe) age 5 or 6. My younger one was almost that old when we moved to a new house and just didn't bring the bottles. They are both pretty normal kids, don't suck or mouth things, and talk completely normally. Of course they didn't use only bottles - also breastfed, regular cups, sippy cups - in other words, a variety. I don't see any point to forcing the bottle away so young! It wasn't a battle worth fighting to us! bottles were o.k. with me

17>17-month-old: time to wean her?


Our daughter will be turning 17 month, and we thought it is about time to wean her from the bottle. However, we have not been too successful doing so. She has been drinking water and juice from her cup for quite a while now, but she will only drink milk from a bottle. Any suggestions/advice on weaning a young toddler from the use of bottle?

I don't have any useful advice but I'm curious why you think it's time to do so. I know that bottle and breast feeding can cause dental problems in some babies but apart from that, 17 months seems very young to me to remove a source of such comfort. I've been confused about the push for early weaning for a while so appreciate the chance to gain some understanding about this other perspective.

My son did exactly the same thing as your daughter - he would only drink milk from a bottle. I finally weaned him by simply telling him he could not have the bottle any more (he was using it to fall asleep at night and again in the morning). He never drank milk again. Ever. He is almost nine now and gets his calcium from calcium supplemented orange juice. I often regreted havig weaned him, specially from the morning bottle because breakfast has been a challenge ever since. So, my advice is - don't be in too big a hurry and if want your child to continue drinking milk (some people are really against milk drinking) then make sure she takes it from a cup before taking away the bottle.



17-month-old bottle addict since pacifier went away

Jan 2003

My 17-month-old is addicted to bottles. This has been going on for several months now, and has gotten worse recently (he has a few teeth coming in and has had a cold). A few months ago, he was happily drinking milk from sippy cups, with only one bottle, at bedtime. Then he started refusing to drink milk in sippy cups (though he still likes to drink water from them, as well as drinking/spilling water from open cups) and demanding the baby bottle. Attempts to deny him the bottle resulted in huge tantrums, so we gave in and gave him bottles. Because he was drinking so much milk, he pretty much stopped eating food, so we started watering down the bottles. He still drinks 8-10 (8oz) bottles a day, but now that they're mostly water (only the bedtime one is full-strength) he's eating food again. But it's becoming increasingly clear that he's using the bottle as a pacifier--sometimes he walks around with the nipple clenched in his mouth and the bottle hanging down.

Looking back, I'm pretty sure the bottle obsession started around the time we retired his pacifiers. He had been using a pacifier in the crib. A few months ago, he had a cold and didn't want to use a pacifier, probably because he needed to breathe through his mouth. We decided it would be a good time to retire the pacifiers, and stuck them all in a cabinet. He didn't seem to mind, but then he started demanding bottles.

I don't know what to do. I thought watering down the bottles of milk would make them less attractive, but as long as there's a little bit of milk, he doesn't seem to mind. (Pure-water bottles result in a tantrum.) I also tried switching to low-flow nipples on the bottles--I thought if it was harder to suck the milk out, he might find it less rewarding, but it hasn't helped at all. I keep thinking about bringing back the pacifiers but that seems like such a huge step backwards, at 17 months. We really don't want to end up with a three-year-old who goes around all day sucking a pacifier, and/or huge battles later over giving up the pacifier.

Has anyone else gone through this? If so, any advice? Mother of a suckaholic

As much as you probably dislike the idea, I suggest you give back the pacifier. Having gone through two binky-sucking toddlers myself, I understand your frustration. I was very unhappy (and embarrassed) to see my first child still with a pacifier (and bottle) at the age of two. I was very persistant in my efforts to break her of the binky habit (she finally gave it up sometime before kindergarten and now she bites her nails). We let our second child kept his binky (and bottle) for as long as he wanted and he easily gave them up when he was ready - I don't even remember when, but he was certainly older than two. The moral is that both children gave it up eventually, but the parent/child relationship was much more positive when I didn't force it. Your child won't keep it forever - at this age let him be happy! anon

A simple word will help you lots: No. The bottle battles go on because they're successful. When they stop being successful, they will end. My son is 3 and still takes the bottle, but he knows that he can only have a bottle when it's bottle time. For him that's bedtime only -- one milk bottle anytime he requests it after dinner, followed by a small milk-and-water bottle if he wants it, and that's it. No amount of pleading, screaming or crying will change that. When he was 17 months he probably got four a day...I don't remember exactly, but I think it was first thing in the morning, before nap, after nap, and bedtime. Maybe not after nap. Anyway, the morning and nap bottles faded out over time, following his lead. By that time it wasn't a big deal because he knew what the rules were. That's not to say that he didn't used to scream for bottles when it wasn't bottle time, just that he knew I wasn't going to give in and so the battle was relatively short.

The other strictly enforced rule is teeth-brushing before bed time -- bottles are fine if you brush teeth afterwards, but they can cause tooth decay if you don't.

I'm a firm believer that some kids need to suck, which is why I've let my son hold onto his bottle way longer than most of his friends. I was a big thumb sucker, so I understand the urge and the comfort sucking provides. But I also think that kids need to find other ways to comfort themselves, other tools t have in their kit bag, and that's why I stopped nursing on demand after a year, and did away with the pacifier after the first few months.

Good luck. nelly

You seem to think that tantrums are to be avoided at all costs. YOU are the parent . A 17-month-old doesn't know what is best for him, no matter how long, loud, or hard he protests. Take back control and stop giving him the bottle. Simple. p.s. If you think a 17-month-old is hard, just wait until he is 17-years-old. anon

I have had 2 children ( 4 and 7 now). One was clearly more ''oral'' i.e. needed more sucking time than the other. I nursed and she had pacifiers. From my experience and watching nieces and nephews go through this need, give back the pacifiers and sooner than later it will go. My niece had 5 pacifiers-2 for each hand and one in the mouth-they were very important to her. I can't remember how she let go, but she did with no pressure. She is 7 now and who would have ever guessed. Don't worry about what other people say or may think. You know your childs needs best. Good Luck

My 18 month old loves her bottle. She uses a sippy cup at day care except at nap time, but at home, she almost always insists on her bottle. I'm beginning to try to wean her off of it at night to hopefully help her (and us)sleep through the night. She's never been keen on pacifiers. Although the books and ''experts'' say babies should be weaned from bottles by 18 months, I don't care. She's happy and she'll give it up when she's ready. As for reliance on pacifiers, I can speak from my own personal experience when I was a baby/child. I had a pacifier until I was 4 years old. My mom said I loved it and wanted it all the time. Before I turned 4, my mom had a talk with me about being a big girl and giving it up. So, I thought about it and a few days before my 4th birthday, I turned it over to my mother - never to be used again. I don't think I was harmed in any way by having a pacifier for such a long time. Good Luck

I read your post with a certain longing because my kindergarten-age son used to walk around the house with a bottle hanging out of his mouth like a stogie when he was a 3-year-old. We just put up with it and hoped he would grow out of it.

He was allowed pacifiers and bottles at home until he was 3+ years old but used a cup at preschool. It was a bit awkward for us because a few know-it-alls used to lecture us about the evils of keeping the bottle and pacifier for too long but he doesn't seem to have suffered any ill effects.

My mom was a big influence in convincing me that it wasn't a big deal. She told me that when he is in middle school, you won't care how long he had his pacifier or his bottle and she was right.

His little sister (just turned two) is also a bottle and pacifier gal and shows no sign of giving them up any time soon. --Indulgent Mom

My daughter who is 27 months loves her bottle. Against her pediatrician's advice, we allowed her to continure having a bottle after she turned two. We do water it down and have dental check- ups every six months to make sure her teeth are ok. I also don't allow her to carry her bottle around with her all day; it is reserved for specific times such as car rides and before naps and bedtime. Had she liked a pacifier, we wold have let her continue using one.

As an older parent, I wonder what all the rush is about. I also believe some children have a real need to suck and that there is nothing wrong with this. I doubt any of our children will go to college with their bottle/pacifier. Deborah

A few thoughts: I think I would have taken advantage of his lack of interest in the pacifiers too but I wonder when he ''demanded'' so many bottles why did you feel you had to give them to him? Why not say no? Why couldn't you decide how many? That seems worth paying attention to because you've got alot of toddler (etc) demands ahead of you. for what it's worth our 3 yr old still has a bottle in the am and pm. Around 2yrs old we limited them to 2 a day. She still uses a binky too but with limits too- only to sleep, sometimes driving in the car, occasionally when she's really upset or sad. I felt like working out some compromise with both binky and bottle will (and already have) set a prescedent for how we will negotiate things in the future. i think the bottle/binky are important to her so I won't deny them to her but as her parent I can decide what seems appropriate or right. Good luck lsg

18-month-old: doctor says to wean her from bottle

April 2002

At our daughter's 18 month well baby visit, her doctor informed me that she shouldn't be using bottles anymore, and that she should have stopped using a bottle between 9 and 13 months of age. Besides being upset that this information was not given to me at the appropriate time, I am wondering if others agree with this.

13-18 months sounds early to me. Our pediatrician recommended weaning by 24 months. While we were able to wean our older son before then, I wonder how it will be with our 18 month old!

Our pediatrician also recommended that if they're looking somewhat reluctant by age 2, make a big deal about it being a big birthday, and saying a couple of months ahead of time that it's time to throw the bottles away. He said for his own sons he gathered all the bottles and nipples up in a bag with his sons' help and they threw them away together.

Other parents have told me that they only will put water in the bottles and offer anything else in sippy cups. You can also try shopping with your child for sippy cups that they like...good luck! Mollie

what's the hurry to wean off the bottle? i think your doctor may not have his/her own children and is submitting to pressure from the same people who discourage breastfeeding past a year and co-sleeping with you baby. as long as your child is eating other food and experimenting with using a cup, it probably is not hurting her to use the bottle too. suzie

My girls are still using bottles (Avent) at 2 1/2 years old. Our pediatrician recommended stopping at 2, however, said it was fine to continue until their permanent teeth were coming in as long as they didn't take their bottle to bed with them (prolonged sucking causing teeth decay). We are thinking about getting rid of the bottles soon, but don't have the energy for the potential struggle just yet. s

I, too, was told that my daughter should stop using a bottle before she was 18 months but her doctor informed me at her 12 month visit. Her daycare provider also really pushed us to wean her to a cup as well. The reasoning was that it would be bad for her teeth, and that also if we waited too long she would get attached and it would be even harder to give up at 2 and beyond.

Upon further questioning, it seemed that it was only bad for the teeth if your child falls asleep with a bottle of milk or juice in her mouth, thereby bathing the teeth with sugar. We definitely did not do this, she finished her bottle at night and we brushed her teeth afterward.

So I decided that I did not care if she wanted to use the bottle longer - our compromise was that at daycare she switched to the cup, but she used the bottle at night before she went to bed. She did this for months, and I never made it an issue. Bedtime was bottle time.

Suddenly at 2 years, 3 months she asked for the cup at bedtime. After that, we just got rid of the bottles and never went back. So much for attachment to it.

My feeling is, turning these things into a battle is just not worth it. I figured she wouldn't go to kindergarten with a bottle and beyond that it didn't matter much to me. Anonymous

I personally don't see the need for it. Did your doc offer a medical diagnosis that indicated the medical need to wean her from the bottle? If not, it sounds like he is offering parenting advice and parenting advice from doctors' is something I use with an ENORMOUS grain of salt.

I allowed my (now, almost 8) firstborn to wean himself from the bottle after (mistakenly) weaning him from the breast at 16mo. He used a bottle til around 5 years (which is pretty accurate, since #2 weaned from the breast at about the same age).

Your child still has a good need to suck and if you're not nursing, IMO you must provide for that need.

For nighttime, you can try comfort nursing (assuming your milk supply is gone) so you don't have milk/juice pooling in your baby's mouth or replace the milk in the bottle with water. Kathy

My pediatrician's advice was to try to wean from the bottle by age 2. This was primarily because it would become only that much harder after that age due to the naturally developing willfulness of the child. From what I have read, the primary reasons for weaning from the bottle are (1) it encourages pooling of liquids in the mouth which fosters tooth decay (unless the liquid is water) and (2) it interupts normal speech development which requires the training that sipping gives to the lips and tongue.

My thoughts? I weaned down to one bottle by 2, and then got rid of the last bottle about 3 months later. I think in my daughter's case I probably would have been able to get rid of it pretty easily until 2 1/2 -- after that it would have been a nightmare! I think if you start using cups as soon as possible, even while your child is still on a bottle, that the speech will develop normally (there is also a problem with using sippy cups too long, so try to introduce a regular cup when you can). And you can control the tooth problems by taking the bottle away after the baby is finished drinking and brushing her teeth regularly. Good luck with it and don't worry! Stephanie

Our 2.75 yr old still uses a bottle. The main issue is that you don't want your babe to be at rest with a milk or juice bottle in her mouth--bad for the teeth. Our daughter drinks only water from a bottle. Our pediatrician had no problem with this, nor did her dentist. michael s.

I weaned my son from the bottle right after his fourth birthday (at that time he was having one bottle before bed). I kept feeling guilty about his ''advanced'' age and mentioned this several times to his doctor, Danielle Rosenman at East Bay Family Practice. She told me that as long as 1) He wasn't taking the bottle to bed, 2) He brushed his teeth after having the bottle and 3)He had no dental problems, that it was perfectly fine to let him continue the bottle. In fact, it was my decision to finally wean him. Dr. Rosenman told me that she had no problems with kids his age having bottles, and that he (my son) would eventually give it up himself because of peer pressure (kindergarten boys can be opinionated, apparently). Dr. Rosenman is very ''middle of the road,'' not extreme. My advice (please forgive my bluntness) is to dump your doctor. He/She seems interested in having your child become independent before it is necessary. Alison C.

For what it's worth, our pediatrician wasn't so adament as yours- in fact it was the dentist who suggested our daughter give up the bottle. Well, she's 2 yrs 8 months and she still has a bottle in the am and pm and I can't quite bare making her give it up. I've offered her other sippy cups with milk in them from time to time. It's soooo hard to be a toddler:have limits set, learn to be patient and begin to potty train. I figure she'll give it up when she's ready. LSG

I had the same experience with my daughter, because we moved to a new doctor when she was around 18 months. I gave it a try the night we were back from the doctor (on the same day I heard of a friend who kept her son in bottle until he was almost 3 and she had to spend $1000 to fix his decay teeth) to just see whether she could go to bed without bottle and she did. It was quite easy actually. She kept asking for the bottle, but I told her that she can go to sleep without one and she got really tired at some point and went to sleep without it. And she hasn't touch another bottle since then. I always thought that she could never quit the bottle since I don't know any other way to put her to bed, but I was completely wrong. - p.l.

My son didn't stop using the bottle until he was 5. Actually right around his fifth birthday we had a ceremony at the marina in which we tossed his last bottle away with a note inside (we are still waiting to hear from Australia). The pediatrician had no problem with it as long as our son brushed his teeth before bed. It seemed like a good way to get him to keep drinking milk and it was relaxing and cozy for him. I suppose the only downside was a few years earlier when he wanted ''milkies'' in the middle of the night but once he weaned off those it really wasn't a problem at all. leah

I weaned my daughter just after a year-old...i would suggest to anyone not to attempt these battles with a toddler if you can help it...it was quite easy if you handle it matter-of-fact...just start introducing a sippy cup to replace some of the bottles...one thing not mentioned in the responses is that I think it starts improving their fine motor skills in handling a cup and learning to put it on the table rather than just dropping a bottle wherever (it's also a good manners thing and an encouragement of more maturity). Sharon

My son fell asleep with a bottle or two of milk every night until he was around four. We brushed his teeth before he went to bed and gave him his bottle. He always finished it before he fell asleep. To this day he has never had a cavity. (Of course I never confessed this to the pediatrician when he asked.) The only thing we ever allowed him to drink from a bottle was milk or water. Never juice. He talked early and fine. I also gave him a bottle when he woke up at 6 AM which meant he would go back to sleep for another hour or two before hunger woke him up again. Once I took the bottle away he never, ever drank milk again (he's 11). I took the bottle away because of pressure from family and friends and then I was sorry. I had to get up in the morning an hour or two earlier and fix him breakfast because he was hungry. He woke up grumpy instead of happy and got less sleep than he used to. There are countries where kids are given a bottle in bed for breakfast well after they are 5 or 6 and frankly I don't see anything wrong with that.

By the way, my son was as willful as they come yet taking the bottle away was not hard at all. Don't do it sooner just becase you are afraid of how hard it will be later. Remember, later you can reason with them, bribe them, make them feel all grown up, etc.

20-month-old: I need help weaning her from the bottle

March 1997

I need help weaning my 20 month old daughter off the bottle. She can drink from a cup but she prefers the bottle. This week her father and I have started some serious weaning. We plan to only give her a bottle of water at night. She did not like it. Last night she cried for two hours screaming teta (her word for bottle). She is used to her father spoiling her with bottles of chocolate milk at her demand. I don't want to go through more crying nights. Help me! Rita

Night-time-bottle: Although I condiser my almost 2 yr old a veteran night sleeper, she does on occasion still wake up around 4 or 5 AM wanting what she calls a teeney-tiny bottle. I usually give her 3 parts water to 2 parts milk but have been making the bottle almost all water. She drinks this bottle in our bed and ALWAYS goes back to sleep for 2-3 more hours. We are all quite content with this situation. I will soon be transitioning this bottle to an all warm water bottle and then hopefully to a cup as I think she is genuinely thirsty and finds comfort from the warm drink (heck, who wouldn't!) and I would like to wean her from the bottle soon after she turns 2. She is currently training herself to use the potty so I don't want to introduce too many changes to her at this critical time in her maturation process. The whole point of this comment is to reassure those people out there with night-time bottle drinkers that this is still a pretty normal activity and you are not alone. Just relax and enjoy your child....remember there are usually NO bottle drinkers in kindergarten.... =-)


Our doctor suggested a method which is working well for us. We are diluting the milk with water. We started a couple of months ago and are now down to about .5 oz milk and 7 oz water. Ella has reduced her pre-bedtime consumption to only a few sips. The plan is when it is all water to eliminate it after a bit. So far it seems to be working. Seth

I'm curious as to why you are trying to wean your child of the bottle at this age. I also have a 20 month old child who still prefers to drink milk from his bottle. But neither I nor his pediatrician have been particularly concerned about this. I've always believed that there is no harm in drinking from a bottle. (In fact, my mother-in-law says my husband drank Tang from a bottle at the age of 4 :-). Is there some physical or psychological development theory as to when a child should be weaned? Stephanie

I also don't see why you want to wean your daughter off of bottles. At 20 months your daughter still has a very strong need to suck; there's really no need to deny her this. Research shows the average self-weaning age of a breastfed child is 3 or 4 years so by analogy you should wait at least that long for her to switch. (BTW, my mother says that I woke up one morning when I was 4, took all my bottles and threw them in the garbage. That was it for bottles for me- a one day, hassle-free weaning).

2 hours of crying is a *very* long time and certainly not worth the trauma to either your daughter or you. Maybe you could ask your husband to give her water, juice, plain milk or rice dream instead of chocolate milk? Also, if you just want to get her used to drinking from things other than her bottle and she doesn't want a sippy cup or regular cup, there's a little canteen that's made of hard plastic for toddlers that I got for my son at a payless. It looks like the real thing, doesn't spill, and your daughter can suck on it if she likes. Sophie

Introduce pacifier to cure 2yo's bottle addiction?

Nov 2010

My daughter is turning 2 this week, and there's no end in sight for her love affair with her bottle. She carries it around and wants to lie down and drink from it whenever she's tired or upset. She falls asleep drinking from a water bottle, and holds it all night. Basically, she treats it like a blankey. I don't have the heart to cut her off, but we are sick of cleaning the bottles and washing her sheets every morning because she drinks two big water bottles while she's falling asleep at night.

A relative recently suggested that we swap her bottle for a pacifier, which is a wacky but intriguing idea. Has anyone ever done this? Is a pacifier habit worse than a bottle habit? Could we end up stuck with both? Any success stories or cautionary tales would be welcome. Anon

We use the Doctor Brown Bottles and they are a pain to wash, my husband was just asking if we could switch to something else too, but I prefer not too. My daughter also has a pacifier and a blanket. So this is our nightly and nap routine. I lay down with her, give her the bottle, she drinks between 4-8 ounces and then she is done and I give her the pacifier. All this time she has the blanket in her hand and she is fiddling with it. She falls asleep withing 20 minutes or so and the bottle goes away. Sometime through the night the pacifier drops out. In the morning the pacifier is put away so she isn't in the habit of using it. She still however wants her bottle to drink when she gets hurt or upset. I usually give her the pacifier and/or the blanket for a few minutes and once she is ''better'' the pacifier goes away again. She will be three in March. When she was two her teeth were still fine, however the warning is that you can get ear infections from drinking the bottle laying down, and cavities. She has no cavities, but did have frequent ear infections, but now she has ear tubes and hasn't had one since. Anyway, our goal will be to try and wean her off of the pacifier and bottle by three and then she will just have her blanket. I recommend slowing adding in another comfort item, (Blanket, bear, ect.) then once that one provides comfort wean her from the bottle. Good Luck Vicki

Hello! As a mom of 2, who both were (and one still is) very attached to the pacifier, I can say this: having either is hard on the parents. But, with some kids, it's something they need, the oral satisfaction, or the physical touch, for whatever their reasons. (Not bad, just stating.) So, to give them that reassurance, it is easy for us in this commercial world to give them pacifiers, blankies, or bottles.

My thought on bottles is that they are messy, a hassle to clean (as you brought up), and they are bulky. Pacifiers, in my humble opinion, are easy to tote around, easy to clean (pop 'em in the dishwasher silverware contraption and shut the lid), and pretty cheap. I vote for the pacifier.

You're giving water, so the dental caries thing isn't an issue. That's great for her health.

As far as switching, that's going to be the thing. She may balk, or she may go with it.

Why not try a pretty pacifier, and see how she does? Or,maybe have a bottle party, where you give the bottles to a ''needy kid'' and she gives it up entirely? (Heard of this suggestion in relation to giving up pacifiers; have not tried it myself!)

Now, in hindsight, my 8 y.o. daughter had a VERY hard time giving up her pacifier. Like, at almost 5, she still had them, and had to be cut off cold-turkey. She still had her blankie, but the pacifier was preventing us from understanding her when she talked. And she couldn't deal with ''just for sleeping'' pacifiers.

And my 2 y.o. son is currently in love with his pacifiers, but as an easier-going kid, he is fine with leaving it in the car for outings or taking it out when talking. (I'm starting early this time!)

Any route you go is going to be hard. Try not to take offense at any of the suggestions given, follow your own instinct, and this is just one of the wonderful things we get to deal with as parents! :) Good luck! missk

My cautionary tale has no end, yet. My four-year-old boy has the same relationship with his bottle--he treats it like a lovey. I have yet to figure out how to get him to give it up. He is completely freaked out by the idea (''But I'll be scared,'' he says.) In retrospect, I wish I had taken it from him when he was younger and just dealt with the few days of sadness on his part. I also have a two-year-old boy addicted to the pacifier, and there is going to be a day very soon, I think, when I just take both items from the two of them and say enough is enough--and give them lots of love and kisses to reassure them that it's going to be okay. In the same boat

My daughter was totally hooked on the bottle AND pacifier. We decided to get rid of every bottle and pacifier in the house all at once-with her watching-and tell her that the pacifier/bottle fairy was coming! we made it very exciting and fun.....The next morning VOILA! all the stuff was gone and in its place was some sort of toy she had been coveting. She never asked for either again...I swear! anon

Some toddlers do need more oral stimulation, so a pacifier can provide this. Remeber that oral development, along with all the other sensory skills are developing. Has the little one ever bonded with a particular chew toy, teething rings can still be fun and more socially acceptable. She needs to to this.. If you do not meet the need now.. the child will be chewing their clothing necks and sleeves in kindergarten..

I think you can also try establishing moving to the sippy cups that have the softer tops to link with the bottle nipple.. You can say we are celebrating being a big girl or boy and in the day time at measl we use sippy cups. Then still let the use of the bottle be a comfort at night time before bed. Celebrate the baby hood.. it does not last long enough. ner

I have a 5 yr old who still wants his milk bottle morning and night and my attitude is...who am I to take away something that brings him comfort, guarantees his milk consumption and isn't harming him? I was concerned like you, but my mothers sage advice was ''don't worry, he's not going to walk down the aisle with a bottle''. He will give it up when he's ready. We have cut down the night time bottle to 4-6 oz of milk and he wears a night time pullup which is always wet, but which only leaks occasionally. Under his sheet I have a fabric incontinence pad so that I only have to remove the sheet and not the more difficult mattress pad, so that minimizes accident day wash loads. I would say let her have it but do some tweaking so it is more manageable. greenzebra

2-year-old crying all night for her bottle

Nov 2002

My youngest child is 2 and she recently threw her bottle in the trash, but now she cries wanting it back. What do I do? She went the first night without one and all she did was scream and cry for hours. Me nor her either one got any sleep. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to take her mind off it? Please Help. Thanks Terri

Why is it so important to wean her from a bottle? Several of the toddlers that I know (including my own)are still drinking from bottles at 3 years old and still seem to enjoy it (of course they drink out of glasses, too, but still seem to want the bottle). It doesn't appear to do them any harm, and they obviously derive comfort from the bottle,so why not let them until they decide they don't need/want it anymore? -another toddler mom

Hi, there I have a 22 month old son who just ''lost'' his bottle. He used to fall asleep with it and it was the best thing because I can shot the door and do my thing. I took it away for different reasons: higher risk of getting a cavity, bottle leaked, filled up on milk and was not that hungry at normal meal times. So putting him to bed is a bit of a challenge, but on most days it is not a battle but pleasure. Here is a list of routine activities that might help: nightly wash face, hands, feet warm water brush teeth drink water take a book to the bed/crib and read to her in a very soft whispery voice sing a song rub her back and forehead or tap lightly (back only) tell her sweet nothings establish a routine and follow it strictly make sure she is not hungry because milk provides full tommies for 2 hours give it sometime and do not go back to bottle I am sure you will get thru this, we all do Take care, Yelena

3+ year still using a bottle

I would appreciate feedback from any parent who has experience with a 3+ year old still using a bottle. My daughter drinks a lot of milk and water -- but mainly out of a 4 oz. plastic bottle. She has it first thing in the morning, at her nap at school, when she gets home, and when she's falling asleep. She'll use a cup at other people's houses but always wants the bottle at home and when she's sleepy. Occasionally, she takes it outside and I feel embarrassed because she looks too old to have a bottle -- however, I feel that this is MY problem and I don't stop her.
Do kids eventually grow out of using a bottle? I told her that when she turns four, we will give her bottles to a baby that needs them, but I feel terrible taking something away that she likes so much (I missed the opportunity when she was a baby because she seemed to want it so much then, as well.) One friend took away her 3-yr.-old's bottle and he stopped drinking milk altogether, and they have to give calcium suppliments. Any advice?

I have a 3.5 daughter who is still on the bottle (only at night and mostly as security). I am looking for ideas on how to wean her. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

My daughter (who is 5-1/2 yrs) had bottle until she was 5. She always had 2 bottles a day: one in the morning and another at bed time (it was 8oz for each). Without the bottles of milk, she would't get up or go to bed. We had the same kind of worry as you have now and several times we almost decided to stop it. However, if using a cup to replace the bottle, she would never drink that much milk (16 oz a day). For this reason, we let her keep using the bottle until she decided to stop it by her own - that was the day her baby brother came to this world (she probably felt a little bit shame to still use the bottle). So I think it is fine to let your child have bottle for another couple of years (we took some photos when my daughter had a bottle when she was around 5 and ready to show her in her future day, she may love to see it).

Just a brief suggestion on the weaning issue: I believe it helps if you wean them as part of a trip or vacation or some change of scene. The change of scene removes the triggers that make them want the bottle or whatever, and I think it helps, especially if there are a lot of fun things to do. A long car trip might not be such a great time though, because of boredom.

I would not just take the bottle away or trick the child though. Tell the child that you are thinking maybe she or he can do without it while you are on the trip, or just have it once a day, or whatever. I think it makes a difference whether the child is emotionally attached to the bottle, or if it is just a habit, and that your approach may have to differ depending on that. Cold turkey might be the best way to handle a habit but the worst way to dispense with an emotional support.


My 3-yo started asking for the occasional night-time bottle *months* after he was weaned, during his second year. He still asks for it occasionally (1-2 times a week). It definitely is a comfort thing. I told him he could have it, but since we'd already brushed teeth, it could only be water, not juice or milk. He accepted that. He likes his bottle of water warm (yuk). Sometimes he asks specifically for a sport bottle (squeeze bottle with squirt cap) instead of a baby bottle. I think it's fine. You might try any of these intermediate suggestions as a way to help the weaning.

BTW, making the point about his teeth was easier because he'd read the Berenstain Bears visit the dentist (or some such title). I find the BB books horribly preachy and gender-stereotyped, but he adores them and always asks for them at the bookstore. I gotta say, they've helped with the typical behaviors that I find trying at this age -- wanting everything at the store, having fights with friends, being envious of other kids' toys, etc. Anybody think this is a mistake, that BB books permanently rot the brain?

5-year-old still attached to his bottle

May 2004

hi I've searched the archives but haven't found anything that addresses the issue of a five year old who is still very attached to the bottle. He nursed till he was 3, and still very much wants a nightime bottle. He eats ok and his dentist says his teeth are fine. At our urging, he has set various times to stop (when he turns five, or goes on vacation, but then when the time comes, changes his mind, tho he did go without for several days on vacation.) I really want him to be the one to decide to give it up, and know if it's otherwise it will be a major trauma, and I don't know if I can stand the tears. To me, it's really no big deal that he still has it, and I don't understand why the big push to get them off bottle before they want to? Though I don't want to him have on during the day since he'd fill up on that instead of eating. But my husband feels he's too old for it, that he relies on it to put himself to sleep and that he should stop, period. I really thought he would've stopped on his own before now, and I'm wondering how much longer this should go on. He gets a lot of close nurturing and cuddling, and generally we are attachment-parenting oriented. Are there any other parents out there with a child this old still so attached to the bottle? Or has any ideas on how to get him to give them up relatively painlessly? I feel like somehow I may have screwed up on this, but still don't know why. If it didn't feel so arbitrary and heartless to decreee he give them up, I'd probably have a better time with the tears that will happen if we do mandate no more bottles, so I really need to figure out the reasons why it's so important, and my husband can't really articulate it. Sorry for the rambling post, and thanks for any enlightenment.

I smiled seeing your post because my almost 5 year old gave up bottles a year ago, but now treats his sippy cup in almost the exact same way as he treated the bottle, that is, he asks for a cup of milk when he's tired and he goes into a kind of trance while sucking away at it. Transitioning from the bottle was fairly easy -- we had him use a sippy cup sometimes, and then with increasing frequency, all the while discussing the fact that someday soon he wouldn't have his bottle anymore at all -- and I think there was only one or two times when he asked for the bottle and was refused (which naturally resulted in tears and despair). But since the sippy cup now serves the same purpose, I'm not sure whether any real change was made, other than the fact that people feel uncomfortable seeing a 5 year old with a bottle, but don't mind seeing a 5 year old with a sippy cup.

My conclusion is that some kids are just big suckers. My son loved to nurse and nursed a good long time, then loved the bottle, and now loves the sippy cup. I, on the other hand, sucked my thumb until I was 12. I figure as long as he brushes his teeth after milk, and as long as we limit it so that he's not drinking instead of eating or relying on it as his sole source of comfort, who cares?

My advice -- if the bottle bothers you -- work on giving him a sippy cup as an alternative in a way that doesn't equate it with giving up the bottle immediately, and let him know that he can still be having milk at bedtime, just in a new big-boy format. If the bottle doesn't bother you -- and if you're taking care of his teeth by brushing afterwards and not letting him suck himself to sleep -- figure that eventually he'll decide on his own that he's too big for it. Good luck! nelly

I have a 3-year old son who likes to have a bottle in the morning and a bottle before bed (not in bed). He also has no dental problems, no speech problems, etc., so I don't understand what the big deal is either. I'm not responding because of this, though, but rather because I didn't give up MY bottle until I was 5 years old and I remember perfectly well how my mother (and I) handled it. When it was time to buy new nipples again, she told me that these were the last set of nipples she was going to buy (we were together at the grocery store, and I'm sure we talked about it a great deal before and after that, too). When they were too old to use, that was it, she told me, as we had agreed. Well, I do remember well that when the nipples wore out, I asked to have milk in my bottle with no top on it, but with a straw. My mom complied. I immediately spilled all the contents out. I realized this was not going to work out. So that was it. No trauma, no tears. [My father, on the other hand, had been trying to get me to give up my bottles whenever my mother was out of town since I was 2, and his techniques -- you're too old for that, you're not a baby, etc. -- never worked!] Been there...

My daughter used bottles until at least age 5, and I didn't see any reason to arbitrarily stop it. She was verbal, mature, and in no way troubled - she just liked it! We did limit it to home only, made sure she didn't have ALL of her drinks that way, and put only water in the bedtime bottle (we keep a glass of water at our bedside, so why shouldn't she have a bottle at her bed!?). You don't say what is in her bedtime botttle, but if it's something other than plain water, Id encourage you to gradually water it down until it's water only (to help prevent tooth decay). anon.

One of our kids had a hard time giving up the bottle until we were tired of the hassle of it all and ''forgot'' to bring bottles on a week-long vacation. We had the attitude of ''Darn... oh well, we'll be okay without them'' and he bought into it. When you're on vacation, nothing's quite like home, and I find that my kids learn to adapt to change better when we're on a long road trip. At worst, your child may cry or scream a few times -- just don't be tempted to buy a bottle at a store along the way. In our case, I hadn't let on before the trip that I thought he should quit the bottle. I acted like I didn't care what he drank from, so he didn't suspect that I forgot the bottles on purpose. After a week of no bottles, he found that he could relax and sleep without the help of a bottle. Occasionally he'd ask for a bottle after the trip, but quickly found they had lost their appeal. I suspect that on some level your child wants an excuse to give up the habit. Good luck! Diane

We followed the advice of a friend: The ''Baba Fairy'' came one night and left a ''big kid'' gift under the pillow in exchange for the bottle which the child left that night for that purpose. (Similar to the tooth fairy.) My daughter picked the night it was to happen so she was still in control. Despite some apprehension she was fine with it. She was a bottle addict too, and older than most. My other daughter left her bottle with the cookies for Santa one Christmas for Santa to give to a ''baby who needs it.'' ak

My (now) almost 10yo used bottles til he was around 7. They were definately his first choice til he was a solid 5. I never saw a problem with it - I nursed him til he was 16mo, nursed #2 to 5 or so, nursed #3 to 22mo, and last one is still nursing. I can't see any harm, some 5 years later, of letting #1 wean from bottles on his own. Kathy

Our daughter gave up her bottle at three and her binky at four (which seemed kind of late to us) both at our initiative. Given our experience, I think you may be exagerating the ''trauma'' you will cause your child. If you have confidence that he can do this and Not be traumatized, he will to. Some tears and sadness and longing are normal- not necessarily a sign of trauma. When we agreed our daughter would give up her binky on her fourth bday we talked about it for months before. That night she said ''I wish I had said I'd give it up at five'' Yes, sure but you didn't. Then she added: ''I think I'll need you to sleep with me for 3 nights and then I'll be OK'' She was already getting used to the idea. I slept part of the first night with her, praised and admired her for giving it up the next morning and she never really protested about the binky again. good luck anon

Our daughter was still very attached to her bottle (only at night, just before bed) and to her pacifier (mostly at night, though occasionally during the day), as she approached her fifth birthday. Like you, I didn't see any pressing need to force her away from these comforts she loved--though my husband was getting a little antsy about it (social embarrassment, maybe?), and our dentist was getting downright pushy (adult teeth come in early in my family, and he was insistent that her bite was going to be distorted....which seemed to be at least partly borne out by x-rays.)

Anyhow, we managed to resist the pressure until my daughter started to feel on her own that it was maybe a little ''babyish,'' and had at least some interest in giving hers up. What worked for us, I'm mildly embarrassed to say, was outright bribery. We started with the bottle first. The bribes were small, but frequent: at first, a little toy or special outing for each night she went without it. Then she had to go three or four nights before getting something. It led up to a big toy she really wanted once she was completely off the bottle, and again once she was completely off the pacifier.

The good thing about it was that we didn't have to force her. As she struggled at night to get sleepy without her comfort, she knew that she could decide to have it if she wanted it, but that she wouldn't get her special treat the next day. With her pacifier, the struggle was TOUGH for her some nights, but it was clearly her decision to make, and she was able to make it...and was VERY proud of herself when she earned her prizes. During the process, we talked about how it would get a little bit easier each night, and that it usually takes about 12 days to break a habit. Lo and behold, that's about how long it took each time. Now she's nearly six, and hasn't looked back. elise

Hi, don't worry about it. I drank from a bottle until I was 7. It was part of my bedtime routine, and I actually have fond memories of falling asleep with a bottle. What got me to quit -- peer pressure (I got really embarrassed when some friends from school asked about the bottles in the fridge -- fortunately my mom covered for me and said that her friend with a new baby had left them) and the gentle urgings of my parents. I remember sitting at the dinner table and their encouraging me to drink milk from a straw. My connection to the bottle was that I thought the milk tasted better and that it was undrinkable from a cup. the straw seemed to be a good intermediary. In fact, my parents got me flexible straws to use (this was before all the crazy loopy straws now out there), so it was extra special. I even remember thinking that something in the bendy flexible part made the milk taste better and therefore I didn't mind drinking it from a flexible straw. Of course, I was hooked on those for a while, then a regular straw, and finally I was able to drink milk from a cup. Whew. Your child will definitely not drink from a bottle forever. Unless it creates a problem for you, I would let him wean himself at his own pace -- just help create opportunities to wean. still enjoy the bottle (just kidding!)

Sorry, no enlightenment from here, but I just wanted to let you know that I agree with you that it is no big deal if the kid still wants a bottle. My girl is over 4 now and still loves to have her bottles (a lot more of them than your child--mornings, nights, and mid-day). Luckily, her teeth are great, she couldn't be healthier, and my husband and I agree that it is not at all a problem, so she just gets her bottles.I figure by the time she gets to high school, she'll probably quit on her own! -Genevieve