Getting rid of the bottle

February 12th, 2013 posted by Family Corner Staff

Photo Copyright Amanda Formaro/The Family 1998, 1999, 2000


“How can I get my 28-month old daughter to give up her bottle? She still drinks 5 to 7 8 oz. bottles every day. She drinks from a cup just fine — but not milk. Will she give it up without being forced to?”

~ Elaine

Answers from our members:

Kelly wrote:

I think the best thing at this point is to wean her slowly… Try giving her a bottle at nap and/or bedtime only. Tell her that bottles are only for night-night. Then, gradually, get rid of the nap-time bottle — offer a story, a security plaything/blanket, or a sippy cup with water. After you have accomplished the naptime, go on and do the same with the bedtime. At her age (I have 4 children — ages 13 MOS – 7 years, including a 2-1/2 year old son) she will also understand that this bottle is not “good for her teeth,” so you may want to incorporate that. My oldest used her pacifier until she was almost 4 so I have been there….. it’s tough, but put your foot down, be consistent and gradual and it will be fine.

Teresa Davis wrote:

At this age, he isn’t going to give it up on his own. You missed the signs of weaning 16 months ago. The only way to get rid of the bottle now is just throw them away. You may miss a couple of nights sleep, but it’s way past time.

Marvelyn wrote:

My son also drank milk from a bottle for an “eternity”. He used a cup for everything else but found comfort from using a bottle for milk. He was 2-1/2 and I was beginning to think he would never give up this habit. One evening we went out and left the bottle behind by mistake. My husband and I fretted as soon as we realized our mistake. We explained as best we could that “bilk” was gone. He went to sleep okay and never asked for it again. I think that it will be an effortless process when your child is ready. The milk bottle was his comfort item just like a blankie or stuffed toy for other children. I kept reminding myself that I’ve never seen a child walking to kindergarten with a bottle and that he would give it up when he was ready.

Josephine wrote:

I have 2 sons and both drank from bottles for what it seemed like forever. The oldest boy was still drinking 8 to 10 bottles of very watered down milk at age 3. I used to think it was dreadful and never thought he would grow out of it. My husband and I got so sick of filling up bottles for a 2 and 3 year old-this meant 16 to 20 bottles a day One day we just threw the bottles in the bin just before the bin man came. Both boys saw this and freaked but they knew they were gone. I think they suffered for a couple of days. We gave in to the little one and let him have a milky drink in a sipper cup. He is now 3 and a half and still has 2 milky drinks every night but we think it is a lot better than 8 to 10. After the first couple of days the oldest didn’t want anything to do with milk. He is now 5 and won’t drink milk at all.

Amy wrote:

I recommend giving your child options like interesting cups with lids that have rubber mouth pieces like a bottle, and decorations-fill them with water to watch the milk intake. Bottles = Comfort for children and it is not wrong or odd for children to ask for one when they are 4 or 5. Remember that they will not use a bottle when they are 20 or 40-let them be children as long as they can! Good Luck to you!

The Family Corner WebMom wrote:

I think the only thing I would add to these wonderful suggestions, is an option for gradual weaning which was lightly touched on here. I actually did not have to do this with mine as they were pretty easy about letting the bottle go, but I did experience something similar with the pacifier and one of my four kids. Not all my kids took the pacifier, but one of them did and this method worked well for getting him to let it go for good. You may want to cut down the daytime use of the bottle if your daughter gives you a really hard time about cold turkey quitting. So for example, if she is drinking that many bottles during the day, I would say give her a bottle at night when she lays down for bed, and at naptime. But no other time. Tell her those are for night-night now and she can drink her milk in a sippy cup. If she refuses, introduce chocolate milk! Kids love chocolate milk and it will ease your mind if you are worried about her getting enough milk in her diet. There is a recipe for homemade chocolate syrup here. That may be a fun way to divert her attention from the bottle. Make the syrup together (obviously you doing most of the preparation). This can be a fun thing to do with your daughter as well as any older children you may have. 🙂 And its much cheaper than store bought! Good luck with your little sweetie, it’ll work itself out!

Linda Hughes wrote:

It’s that last nighttime bottle that is so hard for them to give up. I simply gave my daughter a glass of milk (in her Tommy Tippy cup, of course) just before bedtime. Then if she still wanted a bottle, I allowed her to have it, but only with WATER in it. She didn’t like just water in it, so after a couple of nights she gave it up altogether. And water is not nearly as bad as milk or formula staying on her teeth all night.

Dea wrote:

OOPS, I got cut off…Cont.. “Big girl/boy Bottle”, which is a sippy cup, a drip cup, Not a no-spill-proof cup. Try for the week to offer the cup during the day, but don’t force. Then at the end of the week, preferably trash day, have your child and you gather up the bottles and say that bottles are going Bye-bye. Put them in a bag, tie the bag up and put it in the trash bag at home. (Now, when the child is not in the room, take the bag of bottles out of the trash and put it away somewhere where your child won’t find it and keep it just in case she has a total fit that bottles went Bye-bye) Then when the trash man comes have you and her stand out there and have her say Bye-bye to bottles. Now, she may ask for the bottles and that is OK, just reassure her that she has the Big Bottle, and give hugs and let her know you understand. But the bottle is Bye-bye. Don’t be concerned if she doesn’t want milk, it is a normal response. Just make sure she gets the nutrition in meals. Also, try and keep her busy so she is tired at the end of the day that she won’t cry as long. — My own experience worked really well. I was so shocked, that is why we took the bottles out of the garbage just in case she was too unbearable. She is Queen in our house. She asked for the bottle for 3 days but, only one 10 minute duration of crying the first day.

Cindy wrote:

The sucking reflex is a comfort for some children just as holding a favorite stuffed animal or blanket is for others. Your daughter may very well “need” the bottle to satisfy this level of comfort. If you find this is the case, I would try a gradual weaning from the bottle to a no drip sippy cup which offers the same “sucking comfort” as a bottle. eliminate one bottle a day over a span of 2 days for each bottle, and substitute a sippy cup for every other bottle. If you sense that her “need” for the bottle is more out of habit that satisfaction, then I would try the cold turkey method as suggested by others.

Leslie wrote:

Our first child also had his bottle until he was 28 months old. He drank out of a cup all day, but wanted his bottle to fall asleep with for naps and bedtime. He was potty-training at this same time (it only took about a week or two), but he couldn’t go all night without wetting because he would wake up and want another bottle. This got to be ridiculous! My husband kept saying “He’ll give it up when he wants to…” I disagreed. He was down to 1-2 bottles a day. Five to seven 8 oz. bottles a day seems like an awful lot. Does she eat her meals regularly? She may just be filling up on milk if not. One day I just took them and threw them away! My sister just had a baby and I told him that his new baby cousin needed them. I kept telling him that he was a big boy and didn’t need them anymore. Now the first time he wanted one and didn’t get it, he was NOT happy about it! He ran back and forth screaming at the top of his lungs for quite awhile…but I was determined NOT to give in! We tried soothing him, his favorite movies, taking him outside, lots of things, but it just took awhile that day to calm him down. It took about two weeks and then he stopped asking about them. The key though is just to take them and never give in. It may seem like it will take forever, but you will be surprised, it won’t! My son just turned 8 years old last month. Since then we had another child and never even started her on bottles (amazing what you learn the second time around!). I nursed her until she was 11 1/2 months. I started her on the cup at just a few months. She is now 3 1/2 years old. Sorry to ramble on and on! Good luck with your daughter! Leslie

Dea wrote:

My child was the same, I had been given this idea from my sister, and believe it or not it worked. For a week inform your child that bottles will be going bye-bye soon. Then the week before you get rid of it you take him/her to the store and ask him/her to pick a

Carla wrote:

Just tell her the bottle is gone and she is a “big ” girl now and then get rid of the bottles so she can’t see them.

Catwoman wrote:

Hi Elaine! I know how you feel because my son gave up bottles (with help!) just last month, and he’s 27 months now! No, our kids won’t walk up the aisle on their wedding days with those bottles, but drinking that much milk can lead to improper nutrition and tooth decay, according to my pediatrician. We tried to slowly ease him off the bottles, but that didn’t work-he’d scream and scream for one until we gave in. We ended up going out of town for one weekend and we just didn’t take any bottles. He had so much fun playing with cousins that he didn’t think to ask for a bottle until we came home-and he whimpered when we told him no, but he’s only asked for a bottle once since then. He is drinking very little milk right now, but my pediatrician says that’s normal for a little while after kids give up the bottle-we just have to make sure he gets a daily multivitamin and cheese or yogurt daily, which is no problem for him. Also, when I gave him the last few bottles, I used the crosscut juice nipples and not the plain milk nipples. They make the milk come out so fast that my son hated it, and he got frustrated and handed the bottles back to me. I think you’re going to have to help your little one out of the bottle phase. It is hard to hear them cry for a bottle, especially at night, but you can do it! Just be strong! 🙂 You are welcome to e-mail me for support if you wish! –Amanda


I found that using a straw helped make the transition from bottle to cup.

See Dr. Paul’s article “Cow’s Milk During The First Year” .

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