Recently on The Parenting Show, the call-in advice show that I co-host on Roger’s Television, a mom called in to ask me at what age do I recommend getting kids off the bottle. Her child was about 18 months or so. Well we were at the end of a show and so I had to answer her question quickly. But because of my rushing I am not sure I answered her to my own satisfaction and I think I miscommunicated some of my thinking. So, I thought I would post some advice in the hopes of making my thinking clear.
Here are the main points:
YOU Pick the Timing
I can’t give you the "magic age" or "perfect age" to stop with bottles. Your paediatrician or dentist will suggest you stop if they see issues with the child’s soft palate. For the vast majority, we tackle this "project" when it makes sense in the context of the whole picture of our lives. It is hard to just implement someone else’s suggestion if you don’t really "buy in" anyways, so who cares what I think? What matters is what YOU think! If you are ready, here is my strategy:
You can begin by letting your toddler know: "as of today, bottles are only for bed."
This is helpful because:
- it eliminates one of the big thing we hate: watching a kid walk around with an empty bottle hanging out of their mouth, preventing them from talking, and being chewed on
- allows them to still have their bottle should they need it to calm themselves and settle
- gives a clear indication of how much your child feels they need their bottle. How? Well, children don’t like step away from the action, so they have to decide if they want to stay and play or go and have a bottle in bed in their room away from the action. If they REALLY want a bottle, they will opt to give up their social life for it. If the bottle is really just a habit or added bonus, they will not be willing to lie down to have it.
After you have limited bottles to bed, think about the LAST day that you will be willing to offer a bottle. Once you eliminate THAT last bed bottle, you need to be sure to be firm and friendly enforcing this. NO more bottles. If you cave and give a bottle you will be training them to cry and scream and demand one until you produce one for them. Don’t go down that road!
Good luck! If you have a funny story or good advice about what worked for your kids, post it in the comment field.