Use this simple 3-step plan to ease the process of weaning your baby off bottle-feeding.
Eventually in every baby’s journey of growing up there comes the time to gradually move on from bottle-feeding. No matter what method of feeding you’ve used so far, it’s inevitably time for the weaning stage.
This can be a difficult stage for both your baby and you. It’s a stressful and novel experience, likely to be full of tantrums and irritability. But we’re here to help you navigate this confusing period, and we’ve got you covered with our simple and foolproof 3-step plan on how to wean your baby off bottle-feeding.
When to start weaning
It’s crucial to begin the weaning process at the right time; too early and your child might not be ready for it, but too late and it might be difficult to unlearn behaviour.
Generally, the best time to do this is right after your child turns one. By this time, your baby doesn’t require as much milk as they did earlier and should be eating and having a varied diet at this point. So this makes it the perfect time to begin weaning.
Avoid bottle-feeding before bedtime
The main thing to avoid initially is using bottle-feeding as a way of putting your baby to sleep. Many parents are used to having a bottle of milk as a go-to tool for an easy bedtime. While it is true that the suction is involved in drinking from a bottle makes infants feel safe and relaxed, and helps them fall asleep easily, drinking milk before sleeping can do more harm than good for your child’s overall development.
This is because drinking milk before bedtime can cause many problems—including consumption of more sugar than they require, tooth damage, ENT infections, and learning unhealthy behaviour based on the association between food and sleep.
So, it’s generally a good idea to find other ways of ensuring a relaxed bedtime than feeding before sleeping.
The 3-Step Plan
There are many different plans and methods out there that parents use for weaning. Here is one of them, a simple yet effective way to help you wean your baby off bottles with minimal fuss and trouble.
Step 1: The most fundamental and important thing to check before you begin is to make sure that all caregivers of your baby are accepting of the plan.
For the process to take place smoothly, it’s crucial to ensure the full support of everyone involved in caring for your baby. Whether it’s a parent, relative, nanny or babysitter, etc—everyone who takes care of the baby has to be informed and aware of the plan. Weaning requires the full cooperation of everyone involved.
This is because babies can be very perceptive—if your child catches any hint of doubt or insecurity from any parent or caregiver, the plan is unlikely to succeed.
Step 2: There are many methods to convince children to change their habits. One of the ways you can do so is by appealing to their generosity.
Kids like giving and receiving gifts, so package the task of giving up feeding bottles as a gift-giving activity. Explain to your child that you’re going to gift their bottles which they no longer require to another child who truly needs them.
Get your child involved in the process of gathering, wrapping, and putting together this “gift box”; it can help them have fun while also feeling involved.
Step 3: Finally, take your child with you to “deliver the gift”—take the package to a friend, acquaintance, or anyone else. Assure your child that they are being very kind and good in giving up their bottles for someone else, and make them feel good about the gesture.
With no more bottles at home, it’s less likely that your child will be craving them. Of course, there will be some initial crying and tantrums that are sure to be inevitable but remind your child of the good gesture they made.
Additionally, you can help ease the transition with a new cup or glass featuring cute designs, superhero motifs, Disney princesses—anything your child will love. Whenever your child shows despair and signs of missing the old bottles, reassure them that the transition away from bottles is a good thing, and show them the cool new cup or glass again to make them feel better.
Whenever your child throws a tantrum or a hissy fit, always keep in mind that this is a very confusing transition for your baby; remember to be understanding, and take care of the problem in a kind and empathetic way. No matter how stressed you’re feeling, your baby is feeling worse, so make it a point to be supportive.
So, although the process of weaning your baby off bottle-feeding is likely to be difficult and stressful for both you and your baby, you can plan well ahead to make it at least a little more convenient.