Ask Dr. John

Parenting Questions

Brittan writes: "My son is 18 months old and he still uses a bottle, but not for the purpose of being calmed, but because he won't use a sippy cup and he doesn't know how to use a real cup without having a lap full of juice. How should I help him so he can either use a sippy cup or a real cup?"

You are on the right track by trying to wean your son off the bottle. Recent research has found that babies using a bottle past 18 months have a greater chance of being obese toddlers and children. Most experts recommend that infants begin to switch away from the bottle at 15 months. Right now you are at that point that frustrates most parents. You want your son to switch to a cup, but also don't want to be constantly cleaning up after him. So you need to make sure the transition from bottle to sippy cup is slow and gradual. That way it won't be too big of a shock to him or battle for you. Here are some tips that might help. Skip a bottle feeding every few days and instead offer the sippy cup. Also, put more liquid into the sippy cup and less into the bottle every time your baby uses either. And put the liquids he likes best in the sippy cup and the ones he doesn't like as much into the bottle. You might also need to switch to a different type of sippy cup. Experiment with different kinds. Some babies like ones with handles, others like ones with smaller openings. Chances are your son has a favorite you just haven't found yet. This process could take a few weeks to even a few months and can become very frustrating at times. Remember to keep things consistent and something your baby sees as a good thing to do, even though you might be at wits end with the whole process. It will take some time and effort, but your son will eventually switch to a sippy cup and then a real cup.

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