Practical advice for how to wean your child of the bottle

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Sarah from the USA asks:

"What is the best or easiest way to wean a bay off a bottle? Just not real sure what to do because he does use a sippy cup at meals and throughout the day and only has a bottle to go to sleep…. Please help."

Please remember to read these answers as information you might find useful and suggestions you can try as opposed to advice, as you know your family and can make the best decisions for them as outlined in the disclaimer below.

Well first of all congratulations for getting your son to use a sippy cup throughout the day. That in itself is worth celebrating – you have done really well. Please know you are not alone, many parents struggle with weaning and the night time feed can be the most difficult to give up. However, the good news is that billions of babies and parents around the world have done it and so will you.

It helps to know that, if your baby has teeth, night time feeds (unless it is water) are not very good for his teeth. Research shows that falling asleep with milk on the teeth can result in tooth decay. So this is also a good motivator to stop the night time feeds.

Here are some ideas you can try.

First, find a time to start the process when you and the baby aren’t over tired or stressed. Maybe go to bed just a little earlier than usual so you have some extra time and it doesn’t put pressure on you or the baby to fall asleep quickly.

If you have a night time routine like dinner, bath, bed, story or songs then keep the same routine going except without the bottle. You may like to prepare a few days in advance and get a special new cuddly toy your child would love and replace the bottle with a toy the baby can hold.

I have always sung to our son at bedtime from a tiny baby and even now he’s six. The songs have varied over time and I have some funny memories. When he was tiny, I used to sing a song “go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep little Cameron … etc…” When I got sick of singing as he feel asleep – I would start “la la la ….la la la…” and even if half asleep he would say “no!” and I would have to go back to words after a long chuckle to myself… you might find singing helpful.

I would also lie next to Cameron (when he was old enough to be in a bed) or sit near his cot and hold or rub his head and back. I would breathe deeply and relax myself and this would make our baby start to wind down and follow my lead. I would also say soothing slow words like good night baby, sleep well my darling, close your eyes etc…and then be very quiet.

I asked, baby expert Jan Roberts what she recommended. Here is what she said:

Getting rid of your toddler's night time bottle means replacing the comfort he receives from sucking with another comforter.

Best options involve your presence - here are some ways to ease his transition to sleep:

  1. Lie beside him and read a story,
  2. give him a massage,
  3. lead him through a guided meditation.

You can make any or all of these a lovely regular feature of a bedtime that doesn't involve your child sucking himself to sleep. Both of you will enjoy this very special time of closeness and connection.

More ideas in Healthy Parents, Healthy Toddler by Jan Roberts - read a sample here

I also interviewed baby sleep expert Dr Wendy Middlemiss you can see the interviews at

I hope this has given you some ideas. Please let me know how you go. I think the key is to make it a loving, special time for both of you and be patient if it takes some time.

Your little one will grow so quickly, a resource you might find helpful a little down the track is my free parenting guide off the website – it talks about life skills including relaxation.

All the best on your parenting journey

Dr Rosina McAlpine



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