The Bottle Battle! You know what I'm talking about. The dreaded war that ensues the second you decide it's time to wean your baby off of it. The war battle starts internally when you realize the hell you'll go through when your baby screams for hours the first time you put them to bed without it. It's a struggle to take the first step into battle.
Everyone has their own opinion on when a child should stop breast feeding or using a bottle. Yes, it is true that the longer a baby uses a bottle the more likely it is to reshape their teeth. However, it truly is a personal preference. Some children never use a bottle going straight from breast to sippy cup. Others use a bottle from the day they are born until they are 4. Personally I think 4 years old is pushing it but I don't know your situation or your child.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children stop using a bottle no later than 18 months old. It has been proven through studies that the longer a child uses the bottle the higher their chances of obesity. This is due to the additional calories in the bottle that are not needed because the child is already eating enough solid foods to sustain them.
There are many strategies to deal with the extinction of the bottle. You can cold turkey it and just take it away with no notice, no plan and no incentives. You can create a plan to take it away a little at a time. There are incentives you could give if your child gives it up willingly. Then there's always the option of cutting off the nipple of the bottle making it less desirable for your child.
Many parents recommend taking the bottle away a little at a time. For example, take it away for their afternoon nap for a week and then take it away from bedtime. In addition, some parents will water down the contents of the bottle making it less desirable. Decreasing the amount of liquid in the bottle will also help. Over a few weeks the child will be off the bottle.
When my daughter gave up the pacifier we explained to her that other babies needed it. The pacifier fairy came and took her bottles to give to other babies who needed it. This worked like a charm for us and she never asked for another bottle.
Regardless of when or how you choose to take the bottle away it is scary. There is a 50/50 chance that every thing will go smoothly but there's an equally scary chance that it'll be a challenge. It is important to remember that each family is different and what works for one child will not work for another. It is your job to make the best decision for your child regardless of what others may think.
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