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Weaning: From Bottle or Breast to Cup

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

Last week we discussed tooth decay from bottle use. One way to combat this is through weaning to a cup. But as we know, our little ones can become attached to their bottle and it may be hard for them to give it up. So how do we start to wean them?

It is not a matter of 'can they drink from a cup'. Even newborn infants, if supported correctly, can drink from a cup (in some cases-- it is recommended to feed your baby from a cup if specified).

When it comes to taking a baby off the bottle or breast, it is definitely an emotional battle ---there can be certain comforts and safety associated with a bottle that the baby may not be ready to give up.

For this reason, you have to start with the feeding that is their least favorite--the one that they won't miss as much. Usually this feeding is during the day because they are more likely to be distracted--- and you have the ability to substitute the feeding time with another activity.

This could be with toys/activities with mom or even cups that are fun and exciting that would make your little one more interested in something other than a feeding.

Eventually, you will create new routines, and slowly decrease the amount of feeding sessions. NOTE: Make sure you are replacing the feeding with other foods so that your baby isn't underfed.

The hardest feeding session to end is usually the one right before bedtime. There is the most emotional attachment to this one--because it helps to sooth your baby to sleep. If both mom and baby mutually agree to continue this feeding, there is no harm in continuing it.

Eventually, if as the mother you want to end this feeding--- depending on the age, you may have to supplement with formula or milk to help with your baby's routine-- until the change feels normal. Eventually, you may add water or they may become completely disinterested in any type of 'nourishment'.

P.S.A.: Cows milk is not recommended until after 1 year of age, so your baby should be getting your milk or formula until then to provide enough nutrients.

What are some ways to help you start using a cup?

When you start to use a cup, fill it with breastmilk or formula so that they have incentive to drink it at first. As you go start to fill with water outside of meals to get them used to it. If you go out, bring a cup instead of a bottle and fill it with water for them to drink instead.

Instead of using a bottle, your little one may be able to be distracted by a new activity such as games, puzzles, blocks or other toys. You may begin taking them on a walk everyday. Again focus on new routines to replace the old ones. Children like structure.

What kind of cup should you use?

Unfortunately, infants are given 'training cups' or 'sippy cups' which have no spill valve on them. These however do not differ much from a bottle and inhibit the actual sipping mechanism. Be aware of this when looking to shift to cups.

Reminder: The recommendations for breastfeeding are exclusivity for the first 6 months with no complementary foods. At 6 months, continue feedings through 2 years of the infants life. If you want to wean before then, we recommend supplementation of formula before the consideration of other foods/cows milk due to their differing nutrient make up. After 6 months, you can try your luck with a cup-- but you may have to assist as your infant may not be able to hold it themselves.

If you have any further questions on weaning and using a cup, feel free to check out our website to see how Mamas Maternal Health can help you!.

Until next time!

Mikayla and Cassie

Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors


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