There comes a time when nearly every parent watches their toddler running through the house with a bottle hanging out of her mouth and wonders, “Maybe it’s time we move to a sippy cup”. You may know it’s the right time, but your child probably thinks differently. Here are some loving, supportive, child-centered things you can do to make the transition a little easier on everyone:
Know how she feels
Recognize the bottle is important to her and that letting go of something important is hard for everyone, especially children. Acknowledging this will help you be more empathetic if she digs in her heels.
If your child drinks four or five bottles of milk a day, remove the less important ones first. Talk to her, tell her she won’t be having a bottle at snack next week and why. Be excited about it and upbeat. Let her know she is really becoming a big girl and this is a sure sign. Let her see the world won’t end. Distract her, let her watch her favorite show or play her favorite game, add some fun nibbly snacks to curb hunger. If she fusses, ride it out with some extra cuddles and a book. Bonding time with mom or dad is the best remedy for most things. Wait a week or so before removing the next bottle.
Trade it in
When you’re ready to tackle the most important feedings, (usually nap and bedtime), take her to the store and let her pick out her own big girl cup. Then, have her help you say bye-bye to the bottle, throw it away, and fill up her new cup with milk. You should keep this cup as her special cup. Don’t let siblings use it, or let her use it for anything other than soothing in place of the bottle. That way she’ll see it as her special comfort. If she’s upset during the day, let her use the special cup, that way you are associating comfort with the cup. Give her lots of big girl props for making the switch.
If it doesn’t work out as quickly as you had hoped, don’t lose heart. Kids do these things as they’re ready, with a little prodding from us. You can always leave two weeks or more between dropping feedings and go at her pace. If she is clearly a sadder child because of the change, you can always stop for now and pick it up later. Do what feels right. What’s important is that you are tuned in to her needs and doing what you can to meet them.
Kim Foster chronicles her tales “in the kitchen with two spatula-wielding toddlers” on the very funny and popular blog, The Yummy Mummy.