Most babies love their bottle. But there comes a time when your child needs to kick the habit. The idea of transitioning away from bottles can be emotional (and slightly terrifying) for you and your partner—it marks the end of babyhood in many ways. It can be an even harder transition for your little one. A few simple steps can help ensure that the process is relatively painless for everyone involved.
Why You Should Bottle-Wean Your Child
Sure, it’s pretty unlikely that your child is going to be sucking on a bottle by the time they go to elementary school, but there are a few important reasons why you should bottle-wean baby sooner rather than later. For starters, prolonged bottle use “significantly increases” the risk for tooth decay and can increase the odds that your child will have a dental issue like an overbite or tooth protrusion, says Ashanti Woods, MD, a pediatrician at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center.
Bottles also tend to promote “snacking” behavior in toddlers, since they’re often available for a quick sip, says Daniel Hall, MD, a pediatrician at the Massachusetts General Hospital Revere Healthcare Center. “This can contribute to excessive weight gain, or for some toddlers, poor growth when they rely on the bottle instead other solid foods,” he says.
Toddlers tend to use bottles for comfort, just like pacifiers. It’s important to teach them to learn how to manage their feelings in a way that’s not linked to eating or drinking, Hall says. “In this way, weaning from the bottle can help your toddler to learn new ways to seek comfort when…