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Breastfeeding a child is what a mother dreams of when she has her baby, and the bond that develops after is unbreakable. The dependency of the child on the milk increases quite rapidly, either wanting it via the breast or on his favourite bottle. But there occurs a stage when a child needs to stop using the nipple-based feeding mechanisms and opt for drinking milk in the usual manner. Especially if your child enjoys drinking milk at night, weaning a bottle fed baby can be a tough task, and you will require all the help you can get to guide your baby in the right manner.
When is The Right Time To Start Bottle Weaning?
Many parents believe that the weaning process should start as early as 6 months. While this may work for some, it is generally not recommended since six months is pretty much the age when your child is starting to get the hang of things. Up until then, the feeding is not streamlined and also your baby needs to get all the milk that he can, as much as he can.
Most parents choose to initiate weaning as the baby starts approaching closer to the year mark. Having completed around 10 months or so, you can start introducing a cup to your child or even take gradual steps in weaning bottle with a spoon or a sipper cup for him. Some babies might respond to it positively, while others might want to stick to the bottle. Give each baby his own time.
At no point should breastfeeding or consumption of breastmilk stop during this stage. The initial phase is to get your baby used to a different way of drinking fluids. If your little one has started having solids, then you could use a sipper or a spoon to give him some water after each meal and get him used to it accordingly.
Why Should You Bottle Wean Your Baby?
Babies tend to learn by repetition and, right around more massive months; they start getting used to drinking milk from your breast or the bottle. Once a child learns it, he will love it, and you will come across instances when he doesn’t let the bottle go even after he is done feeding. A sense of attachment starts developing, which can make the process of weaning even more difficult than it has to be. Apart from working this out, there are a few health-related reasons as well that make it necessary to remove the baby’s dependency on the bottle.
- Throughout the early months, most babies tend to feed by the bottle in a position that involves lying down on their back until their feeding is complet. This happens even when the baby has learnt to sit upright. That style of feeding isn’t a natural one for a lifelong habit. Also, some doctors believe that continued feeding in that manner could increase the risk of ear infections in the child. There hasn’t been a study to provide conclusive evidence in this regard, but it still works in your favour to take preventive measures as soon as you can.
- As your baby grows up, his appetite increases and so makes his demand for milk. This can be very evident by his way of sucking. As your child grows up and begins to take in solids as his proper food, there is a need to stop him from asking for your breast or his favourite milk bottle to keep drinking milk as usual. The process of weaning is a tough one since babies are averse to change. Initiating it at the right time and using some great tips can help ease the process. Pressure increases, causing him to drink larger quantities of milk than before. The bottle is a primary culprit in this regard since intense sucking can provide an increased flow of milk that satisfies the baby to quite an extent. However, such kind of aggressive sucking, when continued for a long time, starts affecting the formation of your baby’s jaw, which can even result in the manifestation of an overbite.
- Some babies might seem averse to trying out solid foods primarily due to their addiction to the bottle. Eating solids requires an effort in matters of learning how to eat them as well as an increased movement of the mouth, along with getting to terms with different tastes and textures. Staying in the comfort zone of drinking milk from the bottle is a much more comfortable alternative for such babies. However, such a behavioural pattern can be easily broken by shifting him from the bottle to a sipper cup, especially when intersected with solids.
- There may not be a fully established link for this observation, but there have been multiple instances where babies who have been dependent on the bottle for longer durations, have grown up to be children with obesity problems. The result does make sense once you understand that a container does not provide any regulation in the amount of milk your little one drinks. This could cause him to drink a lot more than he needs, resulting in a weakening of the stomach signals that let him know when he’s full, and making overeating a lifelong habit.
- Another habit that most babies who stick to bottle feeding are that they prefer leaving the bottle in their mouth, even after they have had their fill. They might not suck on it, or might do so occasionally, but the presence of the bottle’s nipple is comforting to them. The downside to that is such behaviour keeps tiny puddles of milk present in the mouth, putting them in direct contact with the nascent teeth emerging at this age. The chances of tooth decay and cavity formation ramp up surprisingly. Try using a pacifier if this seems to be the case with your baby.
How To Wean Baby From The Bottle?
When deciding weaning from a bottle to a sippy cup for your baby, there are a few ways you can go about it, since not all of them might suit your child.
- Understand your baby’s general demeanour to how he reacts to change and make a decision whether you’d like to introduce a sipper or a spoon slowly or would like to directly stop the bottle altogether and bear his tantrums while he gets used to a sippy cup.
- It is best to try this out once your child can sit up straight and interact with you to some degree. Too many changes in the very early stages of his growth could make it difficult for him and even a tad overwhelming at times. If there are other changes already taking place in his environment, then it is normal to delay the weaning for some time.
- Choose to bring out the sippy cup filled with some water and use it once he is done having some solids. If he tends to push it away, let him have the sipper cup as it is without anything inside it. Allow him to get used to it like a toy and pretty soon he would be okay with consuming different fluids and even milk via the cup.
- Stay consistent in your approach even if the baby might decide to push it away one fine day. Keep the bottle out of sight when the progress seems right and give your baby love and support to help him through this change.
Weaning toddler off the bottle is one of the first times when you might feel like your baby’s enemy. But know the fact that this is being done for his benefit and not manifest the bottle drinking as an addiction. It won’t be long before he will be maintaining a right balance of solids and milk and might even start drinking milk from a cup, just like you.
Also Read: Baby Weaning