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Weaning from Bottle to Cup

When should I begin weaning?

Weaning from a bottle to a cup depends on your baby's need to suck and his ability to drink from a cup. A baby is usually willing to be weaned between 9 and 18 months. When your baby is 6 months old, you can start giving him an open-rimmed cup, but wait to completely wean your baby until he is about 9 months old.

What kind of milk should I use?

You can put breast milk that you have pumped in the cup. You can also use formula in the cup. Use iron-fortified formula until your baby is at least 1 year old to prevent iron-deficiency anemia. If you baby is over 12 months you can use regular whole milk.

How do I wean my baby?

  • Plan ahead. From the first months of your baby's life, use the bottle only for feedings. Don't let your baby use the bottle as a security object. For example, do not give the bottle to your baby in bed, because your baby may link the bottle with security and comfort. He may be reluctant to give up the bottle and this can make weaning harder.
  • Take your time. Give your baby time to get used to the idea of a cup. At about 6 months old, you can begin giving an occasional cup of breast milk, formula, or juice just to show that drinks can come in another container. A sippy cup with two handles and a screw on lid with a spout is good for a baby to learn with. Wean your child to an open-rimmed cup as soon as you can.
  • Plan ahead and give yourself and your baby plenty of time. Slow weaning gives your baby time to adjust.
  • Start small and increase the amount of milk. When you ready to wean your baby, you can start by giving your baby a cup with 1/2 oz. of milk or formula at every meal. (Juice should not be used as a replacement for milk at feedings.) End the meal with a bottle of milk. Your baby will slowly take more and more milk from the cup. Once you start weaning, make sure you give a cup at every meal.
  • When your baby is taking at least 4 oz. from the cup at each meal, you can stop giving the bottle. Drop the bottle for the least preferred feedings first. The evening meal is usually a baby's favorite and is generally the last bottle-fed meal he is willing to give up.

If your baby is taking a daily total of 16 to 20 oz. of milk by cup, in addition to 3 meals of solid food, and doesn't seem to miss the bottle, he can be considered successfully weaned.

What if I have problems with weaning?

Setbacks in weaning can be caused by many things, including stress, major changes in meal or bed times, or illness. If such setbacks occur, wait until the situation improves or the illness is over, and then continue the weaning process. Call your baby's healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

What should I know about a sippy cup?

If your child does have a sippy cup, use it only at the table or while your child is in the high chair. Children should not be allowed to walk around with a sippy cup. Carrying a sippy cup allows a child to get attached to it for comfort. Because calorie-rich drinks are usually in the sippy cup, the child learns that food means comfort. This is not a good idea. The sippy cup may be bad for teeth, both causing tooth decay and overbite of the upper teeth.

Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

HIA File pedi3797.htm Release 13/2010

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