Some might think there’s nothing more heartwarming than the image of a little baby contentedly drinking a baby bottle peacefully. However, at some point, that nostalgic moment for baby will have to end. Eventually, a baby has to be weaned off the bottle and move on to eating solid foods.
But, before mom decides to hurriedly kick the baby off the bottle, little ones do show some signs of how ready they are to give the bottle the hard goodbye.
Moms need to remember that all babies develop at different paces, and will undoubtedly achieve certain milestones more quickly, or slower than their peers. Being a mother and raising a little one should be a personalized adventure, not a competition to boast about on social media for brownie points.
Babies are tiny humans, have minds like sponges, and are very sensitive to their experiences in the world. For some babies, the bottle is not just something they look forward to for sustenance. A bottle for some babies is as comforting as the binkie or a blanket.
Be forewarned, there will be much wailing, discontentment, and potential physical and psychological consequences to an unhinged baby if the bottle is taken away from them too soon.
So, without further ado. Read on to learn whether it’s the right time to move the baby on to sippy cups and juice boxes, or find comfort in waiting a bit longer to make baby switch from guzzling down their liquids in a bottle.
15 Kick Them Off: Baby Needs Bottle To Sleep (Can’t Soothe Without)
Babies love to be comfortable. After leaving mom’s womb in a strenuous event known as childbirth, life outside the womb is a huge adjustment.
The baby no longer has the ability to fall fast asleep to the hum of their mother’s heartbeat and has to learn the art of self-soothing. Depending on how a baby is raised, whether mom practices co-sleeping or the baby sleeps with a cuddly stuffed toy, getting to sleep can be challenging.
Some babies just cannot go to sleep without having a bottle between their tiny hands. Babies are not going to sleep more easily solely because the bottle keeps their tummies full, so they are less likely to wake up with hunger pangs.
Freud might have been on to something regarding human development because there is something soothing about suckling on a bottle. There’s nothing like the comfort of mom’s womb, and the experience of feeding on a bottle may help little ones feel more at ease when left alone in a crib to go to sleep.
If mom decides to remove the baby’s beloved comfort item without offering any time for transition, or a new replacement to help the baby go to sleep, both mom and baby might be in tears for a while.
14 Kick Them Off: Baby Prefers Bottle To Breastfeeding
It seems that nearly all mothers have heard the rallying cry from hospitals, nurses, lactation consultants, and well-meaning veteran mamas, “Breastfeeding is best!”
However, even if moms are given the expectation to exclusively breastfeed their tots for their health, some babies will end up drinking formula, or being bottle fed pumped breastmilk. There is nothing like the bond that is formed between a nursing mother and her little one.
It is not always possible for a baby to exclusively breastfeed, because of mom’s work responsibilities, inability to produce enough breastmilk or digestive issues that require a baby to thrive on formula instead.
One fear that may loom over a mother regarding nursing and feeding her baby, is concerns about what to do when the baby prefers the bottle to breastfeeding.
What will those militant mamas who are all “Breast or bust!” going to think? What if the baby never wants to breastfeed again? And a mother is left feeling a bit torn and frustrated about this phenomenon, especially if they look forward to the experience of nursing their little one with their bodies.
Moms should not lose hope! There are bottles on the market that have nipples that mimic the letdown of milk like the girls. If a mom wants to alternate between breastfeeding their baby and using a bottle, they should opt for a bottle that mimics breastfeeding, so the baby will be less likely to prefer the bottle.
13 Kick Them Off: Bottle Is Causing Deformities
At some point all good things have to come to an end. And when it comes to babies and the bottle, eventually they will need to part.
Moms don’t need to only fret over their baby developing problems with their teeth and gums from eating too much sugar or being a thumb sucker. Because guess what?
If a baby is stuck on their baby bottle for far too long, sucking down their nutrients via the bottle can influence the shape and development of a baby’s palate, and teeth as they come in too.
Typically, a baby is going to move away from the bottle as they grow up. By the age of 6 to 9 months, most babies will be eating solid foods, as their pincer grasp continues to develop, and they practice their ability to swallow and chew.
However, if a mom has a little one that is approaching the 12-month mark, they really should be moving away from drinking their liquids from a bottle. It is far more appropriate for an older baby that is approaching toddler-age should be using a sippy cup.
Mothers who want their little one to switch from the bottle to a sippy cup should look for cups with ergonomic handles, colorful eye-catching patterns, and be patient. A trip to the dentist for a little one should take place once teeth fully show up. And if a baby is 1-year old, the dentist visit is helpful for getting advice, and a health assessment.
12 Kick Them Off: Baby Can Handle A Sippy Cup
Most moms realize that their little one is indeed growing up, once the baby gets a better handle on their faculties and motor eye coordination with tools. I’m talking about babies who are finally capable of handling a spoon, holding a small toy, or even managing to grasp onto a sippy cup.
According to Parents, most little ones are ready to drink from a sippy cup once they reach the age of 6 to 9 months. If mom really wants to get baby to give the bottle the final goodbye, then once baby begins moving onto solids and walking, mom will want to remove the bottle from the baby’s presence once feeding is over.
It also helps if mom stops putting milk or formula in the baby’s bottle as they get older, and just fills the bottle with water. If mom is lucky, she could successfully manage to get her tot onto sippy cups, and ditching the bottle for good within a week.
Timing is everything, as most mothers should learn to keep in mind when transitioning their child from a bottle to a sippy cup. If mom waits until her bundle of joy turns 1-year old, it may be harder for the baby to let go of their bottle, and move on to bigger and better things.
11 Kick Them Off: Baby Is Overdoing Milk Consumption
If a mother has suspicions that her baby is drinking a little bit too much of the baby bottle, she might not be imagining things. After all, there is something to be said about having an unseen sense as a mother and developing a heightened awareness about your little one.
Childhood obesity, eating habit problems, and ensuring that a baby has healthy and safe weight gain and adequate nutrition mean a lot to a concerned mother. It’s not enough to believe that a child is getting the nutrients and vitamins that they need to thrive and reach milestones via bottle-feeding breastmilk or formula.
There is a possibility that a baby could be consuming too many bottles due to emotional eating, or using the bottle and eating as a comforting device to go to sleep. If mom is feeding her baby too often to quiet her little one, she could be sending the baby the wrong signals, and baby’s stomach will learn to take on more than it should.
At times, a baby will want to drink more often than previously because of a growth spurt. But if a little one is not showing additional signs of a growth spurt, mom might want to look at the baby’s feeding habits and make sure she is feeding her child a healthy amount via the bottle.
10 Kick Them Off: Cleaning All These Bottles Is Tiring
Mamas might be mentally prepared for the sleepless nights, having to change soiled diapers, and have a couple of lullabies memorized to soothe a crying baby. However, one thing that seems to get pushed to the backburner when it comes to motherhood and raising a little one, is the sheer amount of cleaning that will have to get done.
At first, some moms think that cleaning won’t be a big deal, because little babies can’t possibly contribute to making too much mess around the house. After all, little ones are pretty much limited to hanging out in playpens, cribs, baby bouncers, and the swing. Right?
When a baby is developing their digestive system and needs to be bottle-fed, mom understands having to clean bottles, make formula, or add pumped milk comes with the territory of motherhood.
However, as a baby begins to get a little older, can mouth a few words, has gotten some teeth, and has moved on to solid foods, having to still put up with regularly cleaning baby bottles can quickly escalate to a mom’s pet peeve.
If the baby is old enough and willing to give solid foods a chance, mom can get slowly get the baby accustomed to using a sippy cup over the bottle. Say goodbye to those pesky bottles making up 50% of the dirty dishes!
9 Kick Them Off: Baby Is Approaching The 12 Month Mark
Once a baby approaches their first birthday, it’s a milestone that really cements that a little one is quickly transforming into a toddler. The transition between age-appropriate behaviors, coupled with developing the physical and mental skills needed to act one’s age is a challenge for babies.
Although a little one might be walking earlier than their peers, or has had nearly all their teeth for the longest, some things are hard for a baby to kick. Namely, the baby bottle.
If a little one looked forward to their baby bottle being a part of their daily life, it can be more than difficult to let that bottle go. The baby bottle serves so many purposes for a little one. It’s a source of food, a source of comfort, something familiar, filled with something delicious and life-affirming. The idea of a mom taking away the baby’s bottle sounds heinous and blasphemous.
However, because of the risk of developing health problems for the teeth and gums, a 1-year old is going to have to move on from the bottle.
If mom supported bad habits, formed by letting the baby continually rely on the bottle to keep quiet, go to sleep, or if baby showed an unwillingness to move onto solid foods and sippy cups when at an age where it is possible to do so, things can be really hard for both baby and mom.
8 Kick Them Off: Bottle Is A Comfort Item, Like The Blanket
Babies thrive on positive attention, but should not always be the center of attention. Mom should have a life too outside of focusing on her little one. And babies should learn the art of self-soothing at varying stages.
However, there is no excuse for a mother to blatantly ignore her baby, or not give her little one sufficient one-on-one personal time. Bonding time spent while being nursed has a lot of benefits for both baby and mom.
If a baby is not getting enough attention from mom or another caregiver, they might turn to the bottle for comfort in a time of need.
According to Cafe Mom, sending the baby to bed with a bottle in tow can lead to dependency on the bottle to sleep. After 9 months, babies don’t really need to feed in the night, so mom can skip on giving their little one a bottle at the point.
Moms should be cautious about handing the baby the bottle every time the baby puts up a fuss, because babies who are bottle-fed are more susceptible to overeating, according to The Bump.
As challenging as fighting early childhood obesity or emotional eating can be, it would behoove mom to learn the signs that her baby might be overeating because they use their baby bottle to soothe themselves when tired, sad, or lonely, beyond being hungry.
7 Kick Them Off: Baby Can Sit Up And Is Eating Solid Foods
As much as a mom might want to hurry her baby into eating solid foods, the baby is going to definitely have to display some physical prowess first. Even though most baby food is processed, mushy, and shouldn’t prove a choking hazard per say, if baby cannot even sit up on their own unassisted, mom should wait a bit longer before feeding baby solids.
If mom wants to help support their little one’s progress, they are going to want to make sure the baby gets ample time to explore their environment, has tummy time as needed, and applies patience.
If mom is always carting the baby around in her arms and doesn’t give the baby the opportunity to build up their strength and stamina, it can delay the baby’s progress in reaching milestones.
Once baby can repeatedly sit up unassisted in a booster seat, high chair, or propped up on a couch, mom can consider safely moving forward with introducing baby to solid foods.
And even if baby can sit up on their own, mom needs to consider the baby’s age. According to Today’s Parent, the recommended age to introduce baby to solid foods is 6 months. However, mom should make sure baby has good control of their neck and can accept food from a spoon comfortably. Moms should beware, the baby might spit out their food on the first try, and may not be interested despite the loving preparation mom may put into her baby’s food.
6 Kick Them Off: Baby Has Routine Mealtimes
Babies really appreciate having a routine. If mom can successfully develop a schedule for their little one, and stick to it consistently, it really helps to reduce headaches in the long run.
One sign that baby may be ready to kick the bottle to the curb, is if mom’s little one can stick to regular recurring mealtimes.
Children begin to learn and expect certain things at specific times, and if mom wants their tot to be more compliant with letting go of their baby bottle, and drinking from a sippy cup instead, it helps if the baby isn’t too hungry.
Regular mealtimes keep the off chance of a meltdown to a minimum, and encourages a little one to want to participate in their meal, and learning appropriate behavior.
Once a little one has the ability to regularly sit up on their own, can swallow their food after accepting it from a spoon, and is even using the pincer grasp to grab small pieces of cereal or fruit to place in their mouth, it will make letting go of the bottle much easier.
If the baby has so many new exciting things to focus on revolving around mealtime, then before mom can believe her eyes, the baby will have happily moved on from the bottle.
5 Wait: Mom And Baby Not Emotionally Ready Yet
Nursing a baby is a huge bonding experience for mom and baby. And realizing that it is time to help baby make the adjustment from using a bottle, and moving on to a sippy cup can be hard.
Not surprisingly, letting go of the ritual of cleaning baby bottles, preparing formula, or filling a bottle with pumped breastmilk to feed a little one can be a chore, but a welcome part of motherhood. When a mom has to make a change, it can be just as difficult to adjust as it is for the baby.
Sometimes babies can manage to wean themselves off of the bottle if offered an alternative like a sippy cup at mealtimes often enough. Other babies are not quick to let go of their baby bottle and need time and patience to make necessary changes. After all, if a baby is allowed to use a baby bottle for too long, it can contribute to tooth decay, or alter the direction and growth of incoming teeth.
If mom and baby are not ready to fully let go of the bottle for convenience sake, emotional ties, or nostalgia, both mom and baby might need a little bit more time.
Emotional readiness and the ability to accept change is important too. Progress is not always solely based on physical readiness and a baby’s maturity.
4 Wait: Baby Not Interested In Eating Solid Foods Yet
Even if a baby has finally reached the 6 to 9-month mark, they still might not be interested in eating solid foods yet. Some babies only want to cleave to their mom for nourishment, while others are stuck on the bottle.
If a baby staunchly refuses to give solid food a chance, mom might just have to wait things out. And having to give baby more time to give solid foods a go is not always a bad thing. Giving a baby’s digestive system more time to develop and mature is helpful for a baby transitioning away from the bottle.
Even though it is recommended to start babies eating solid foods at 6 months, their gut might not be able to tolerate and easily digest their new form of food.
Although it is helpful to introduce new foods to a little one to see if there are allergic reactions, forcing a tot to eat when not interested is not helpful, and can prolong things.
According to Cafe Mom, giving baby more time to show interest in eating solid foods allows the cellular lining in the intestines to fully close. Moms should know that the more complex carbohydrates and fats in foods are harder for a baby to digest. When under the age of 9 months, a baby’s body has yet to begin producing the necessary enzymes to break down foods, and are more likely to experience bouts of vomiting, painful gas, and constipation.
3 Wait: Baby Cannot Sit Up On Their Own
It is so critical that a baby can sit up on their own before ditching the bottle, and attempt to gain sustenance from solid foods. A baby who cannot sit up on their own is more likely to choke, vomit, and not manage to get enough nutrition successfully from solid food on attempted feedings.
Once a baby can sit up on their own, there should be a reduction in the baby’s display of the tongue thrust reflux. The tongue thrust reflux is a mechanism to help prevent a baby from choking, but it is easy for foods that are pureed to get past a baby’s defenses.
Babies need to develop a lot of strength before moving on to solid foods. The muscles of the neck need to be able to support the head, so it doesn’t droop once baby takes a morsel of food from a spoon.
A baby should be able to swallow without problems and even support their weight with their hands to stabilize themselves if need be.
If mom is feeling a bit impatient, waiting is best. Once a baby is physically ready, emotional readiness and interest in food can be better served if the baby is given enough time to develop. Until then, the baby should stick to the bottle to make sure they get the nutrients and vitamins they need.
2 Wait: Baby Is Not Dealing Well With Weaning Process
Adults are not the only ones who can be late bloomers in life. Sometimes a little one just needs more time to get adjusted to changes. Transitions in habits and routines revolving around feeding and the delivery of their food can be hard for a baby to deal with. Moms who are seeking to wean their baby off the bottle must have patience.
According to Cafe Mom, a lot of parents make up their mind incorrectly about a baby’s readiness for solid foods. Sometimes a baby might want to eat more, reaches out for mom’s plate, or wakes up in the night fussing because of supposed hunger.
However, some behaviors that a baby display may correlate with something other than an interest in weaning off of the bottle.
Moms should consider the age of their child, the development of their gut and enzymes used to digest food, and how much interest the baby is really truly showing. Pressuring a baby to learn new behaviors, or to accept new forms of nutrition may actually cause more harm than good.
If the baby is not interested, fussy, or losing weight because mom is taking away the bottle and offering solid food instead, the baby should be given more time.
Weaning is not an overnight process, and just because a child is at the 6-month mark, doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to move forward from the bottle.
1 Wait: Baby Isn't Big Enough Yet
Making sure the baby is putting on healthy weight and keeping it on is important. Babies need to have a healthy weight to support their immune system, pad their organs, and have the strength to reach specific milestones.
When weaning a baby, mom really wants to introduce solid foods while still allowing their little one to have some milk or formula alongside. It takes a lot of time for a baby to transition from a liquid-based diet, and to readily accept and successfully digest solid foods.
There are certain points where a baby’s weight will drop during a growth spurt, or at certain milestone ages. However, if a baby is not getting enough calories from solid food, is rejecting the solid food in lieu of a bottle of milk or formula, and is not at a healthy weight, mom should wait things out.
Sometimes babies do incur digestive issues or have other health problems which can contribute to poor weight gain.
Mom shouldn’t try to switch baby to only solid foods and kick the bottle to the curb immediately. A baby might not get the nutrition and calories they need if they don’t get a chance to have a bottle. A baby’s weight should be healthy and fairly stable, and weaning from the bottle should be gradual.