26 answers

2 Year Old Still Has Bottle at Bedtime

my daughter just turned two at the end of last month. she still takes a bottle of milk at bedtime. my question is, am i doing her harm by allowing this still? she is always so excited for her bottle at bedtime. she sees me get it and just lights up. right now i just dont feel like robbing her of this security. she doesnt have any teeth problems, we brush often (its one of her fav things to do) i know a lot of parents ween their children from the bottle, but i really dont see the harm in it right now. am i wrong? please help?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank all of you guys so much for your kind words and encouragment. my intial idea was to just ride this wave for a little longer until shes done!!! thanks all of you so much for giving me the courage to follow my gut. i do get caught up in all the hype, to where your child should be off the bottle by one and potty trained by one and a half!!! thanks again!!

Featured Answers

T.:

Hi. You've already received a lot of replies on both ends of the spectrum. I fall on the transition off the bottle side of things. Not only for the cavity reason but more simply because it is much easier to make the transition sooner rather than later for both of you. My second son is 13 months old and this week we'll probably stop the nightime bottle which is the last one to go. I did the same with my first son with no issues whatsoever. Don't underestimate their ability to transition/adapt - as they get older it gets harder though. I love giving my son a bottle and its hard to let go of that closeness but there are other ways to replace it. You can still give her milk in a sippy and cuddle and then slowly water down or reduce that. Once you do transition embrace it and feel positive about it - kids really catch on to how you feel about something.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter is 18 months and has many things she loves also & it is difficult to take things away. You don't want them to be unhappy & you also want to avoid the tantrum for sanity. My daughter also loves milk, but she drinks it from a sippy cup about 30 minutes before bed & then I brush her teeth. I would suggest throwing all the bottles away. Out of sight & out of mind. She will be upset, but I promise it wont last more than a couple days & she will start drinking out of a sippy. I recently threw away all the binkys ( I had atleast 10 around the house)& I was pretty nervous, but after a couple days it was fine!! You can do it!!

Sounds like you got enough responses but I have to add this: My youngest got a bottle until he was 4!!!!!!! It was mostly out of laziness on my and my husband's part -- it was just easier to give him a bottle at bedtime. A week or two before his 4th birthday I told him on his 4th b-day the bottle was going bye-bye. On that day I dumped them all out and that was the end of it.

By the way, my son is EXTREMELY well-adjusted.

So don't worry about it.

More Answers

Dear T.,
You sound like and an awesome mom!
Breaking a kid from the bottle habit is not always easy and you have her down to only one a day, so you have done a great job!
You're not "harming" her by letting her have her night time bottle, but you have to ask yourself how long you intend to continue to let her have it.
It's no easier to take it away at 2-1/2 or 3 than it is now. In fact, it most likely would be harder unless she just gives it up on her own. And that doesn't usually happen.
One thing I know is that milk in a night time bottle is bad for the teeth even if you brush them diligently. The acids, etc have a chance to really work on their little teeth throughout the night while they sleep.
If she wants milk at night, she may want that until she's 5 years old. Or older. But you can try giving her the milk in a sippy before bedtime, just after bath while you are reading, etc. While you are transitioning, if she wants the comfort of a bottle, give her one, but only with water in it. She may not like it at first. It may be that she wants the milk and not so much the bottle. It may be that she wants the bottle regardless of what's in it. If you don't give her the choice to have anything in her bottle other than water, she may decide the bottle isn't worth it.
You're 99% of the way there as far as the bottle goes and she will be fine. I promise. I knew my son was done with his bottle when he didn't even drink any of it. He just wanted to have it and hold it. I gave him something else to snuggle and hold. It took a few nights, but he did fine with exchanging one snuggy for another.
Just know the world won't end if you don't take the bottle away right this minute. But, there is no time like the present to start easing her into not having it any longer.

Keep up the good work and I'll keep you in my thoughts!

1 mom found this helpful

If there is one peice of advice I can give it's to not listen to everyone's advice! :) You know your child better than anyone and if your baby wants to have a bottle at bedtime, LET HER :) She'll let you know when she's done with it. I think the biggest problem is that there are ALWAYS going to be people in your business telling you how to take care of your kids because they were the very best parent on the planet but nobody knows your child better than you. Don't listen to everyone else. Take her off when YOU think she's REALLY ready. I had people asking me WHY I hadn't been more strict on potty training my 2 1/2 year old. I showed her the ropes but didn't push the issue. The same people that pushed the issue were CONSTANTLY changing accidents. Well with both of my children I let them do it when they were ready and my daughter doesn't even have NIGHT time accidents (it's been 4 months now)....she was just ready. I know that sometimes it's going to be hard but just try your best to block everyone else out andtake care of your family in the way that is best for them. You'll know, it's motherly instinct :) Congratulations on your baby :)Enjoy it because it flies by!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.,
ok for me we had weened our daughter off the milk when she turned 1 at bedtime of course. But she stilll ike the security of the bottle at night. So what I decided to do was fill the bottle with water instead of milk. now when she says nite-nite she grabs her water bottle and goes to sleep. She still has her 2 bottles of milk during the day but out of the advent bottle with the sippy cup top instead of the nipples. that way she feels like a big girl and she keeps the actual bottle at night only. we are still tryin to get her to ween off the binky tho... she loves that thing.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm sure your daughter loves the bottle in part because it's a time when she can cuddle with you and have special mommy time before bed. You should really start weaning her off the bedtime bottle though. She may not have apparent teeth issues now but I've seen plenty of kids that have bad teeth due to bottle rot. The milk sits on her teeth all night and that is what causes the tooth decay.

Try starting a new bedtime routine with her. Include reading, soft music, lay with her, etc. At the same time, cut the amount of milk in her bottle by half. Then the next week, cut that amount by half - so she gets used to less liquid. During this period, you should also talk to her about not using the bottle anymore. Don't just take it away. Talk to her and let her know that she is a big girl and big girls don't use bottles.

You can replace the bottle with a new stuffed animal she can cuddle at night. Once the bottle has been removed from the bedtime routine, you have to be firm. You can't give it back to her or else or your efforts will have been in vain.

Even though she loves the bottle and is happy with it, we can't always give in to what our children want. As their parents, we have to direct them and give them what they need. Good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful

T.:

Hi. You've already received a lot of replies on both ends of the spectrum. I fall on the transition off the bottle side of things. Not only for the cavity reason but more simply because it is much easier to make the transition sooner rather than later for both of you. My second son is 13 months old and this week we'll probably stop the nightime bottle which is the last one to go. I did the same with my first son with no issues whatsoever. Don't underestimate their ability to transition/adapt - as they get older it gets harder though. I love giving my son a bottle and its hard to let go of that closeness but there are other ways to replace it. You can still give her milk in a sippy and cuddle and then slowly water down or reduce that. Once you do transition embrace it and feel positive about it - kids really catch on to how you feel about something.

1 mom found this helpful

My kids were the same way and they are just fine!! I started watering doen the milk little by little until it was mostly water and then they just didn't want it anymore. By the time they were 2 the only time they wanted a bottle was at bedtime and all during the day they used a sippy cup. THey too brushed ofter and never had teeth problems! Do what your gut tells you! She is your child and you will know what is best for her! GOOD LUCK!

Hi T.,

My son was a little over two in half years old before I could get him fully off of the bottle. It was the same scenario he would be fine during the day with no bottles but then when he went to bed he wanted one to go to sleep and then eventually when he was ready it was able to be stopped. As you said your daughter is fine with her teeth and it is also a security thing for her so by all means I would keep doing what you are doing till she is ready to be done with the bottle. Hang in there mom.

M.

My doctor said that children should be off the bottle by 15 months old and transitioned to a sippy cup. I breast fed my kids so I didn't have an issue with the bottle, but I'd say that your daughter should transition fine to a sippy cup, she may protest the first couple of times but like most anything this too shall pass. But be persistent, once you start the sippy cup at bedtime don't go back to the bottle (their might be some crying, both her and yourself!!) but persistence pays off.

I agree with many on both ends of the spectrum. Go with your heart, but remember the possibilities of the teeth problems that aren't always visible.

What if you gave her a milk bottle maybe an hour before bed, then gave her a bottle with water to take to bed. And you might begin 'talking' to her about 'someday' she won't need the bottle at bedtime and have her get comfortable with something else (stuffed animal, blankie, etc.)

Sounds like you're doing a good job allowing her to just be a baby, and there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes we expect our children (at any age) to grow up too fast.

Blessings,

B.

My daughter took a milk bottle at bedtime up to age 4 without any problems. If anything, I think it helped her get a lot more protein and calories, which was a concern for us being that she tends to be smaller. There's no way I could have gotten that much milk into her during the day.

I would watch for her to fall asleep and then take the bottle away so that it didn't pool into her mouth at night. Usually she'd be just awake enough to fuss around and swallow a few times to clear her mouth. In any case, despite all the warnings we never got any milk cavities.

Hi T.-

My son is 22 months and I still give his bottle. I believe he will out grow it in time. If your taking care of her teeth, then I think you you should wean her when you are ready. Take it easy on yourself, and you will know when the right time is to wean her off the bottle. It's amazing that your 19 and a Mom. It's so hard being a mom at 34, I can't imagine being a Mom so young, and alone. Take care of yourself, and trust your judgement.

My kids sort of weaned themselves sometime before they turned 3 I believe. When they used sippy cups, they would often ask for a sippy cup just before bed too. It is very comforting to a child. I don't believe in rushing children and traumatizing them just to keep up with some social norm schedule. You can start introducing sippy cups and regular cups and see if you can little by little get her to adapt but I agree with you. She won't be wanting the bottle when she's 15 or even 5 so what I'm saying is you won't ruin her for life!

The only concern is the teeth but it sounds like you are on top of that. If she doesn't fall asleep with her bottle, perhaps you can have her brush after the bottle?

Hi,
I am a Grandma,raised 2 kids, have 3 grandchildren, and tons of nieces & nephews, and Great neices and nephews, and Great Greats,(large family) Since I was about 12 I was always the one to go and stay w/New Moms when their babies were born, and take care of older siblings.(I Love Kids) I have seen 5 year olds come home from Kindergarten and demand a bottle.
(so wrong)But the majority of parents usually wean from the bottle between 1st Birthday and 2 years. Does she drink the whole bottle? Start out by having her drink half of her usual amount from a cup, rest in bottle, gradually decrease the amount that goes in bottle, till there isn't any left. Maybe make it an night ritual to sit at the table, both of you have something to drink, brush teeth,talk about plans for the next day, hugs and kisses, Nite Nite....G'ma C.

My pediatrician and Dentist said to have her off the bottle no later than 15 months. Most of my friends transitioned to a sippy cup at 12 months, but I waited a couple extra months. I think she should be fine using a sippy cup only. I think it is better for their teeth. Do you brush her teeth after she drinks her bedtime bottle? I used the Nuby sippy cups, which are most like a bottle, because they have a soft tip. My daughter doesn't have milk at bedtime, but she does have it when she wakes up. She screamed for 3 mornings when we took the bottle away and then she was fine.

as always check with your pediatrician...

you don't mention how much milk in her bottle. My little guy has a small glass of milk before bed each night, and I don't think that's a problem. But I'd get here off the bottle as soon as possible and use a sippy cup and then get her off that by about 3.

my pediatrician had us ween our son (now 3) off his bottle at a about the same time he switched to whole milk (13 months) because apparently they only need about 8 ounces of milk a day plus their other dairy options.

I would stop the bottle asap. I am a dental hygienist and have seen the harm the nighttime feeding can cause. Don't try and ween her off the bottle, it will be too hard. When my twins were 18 months old, I packed all their bottles and hid them in the garage. I told them that an elf came and took them for the younger kids to use. They tore up the house looking for them, but couldn't find them. They whined about it for a few days, but got over it.
Good luck!
L.

My girls have never taken the bottle. When I tried to get my first daughter on it my pediatrician said no-it will be another thing you have to ween her from. So I never did. However my sister gave her daughter a bottle at bed time. She turned 3 in May of this year. My sister is a fanatic about teeth cleaning. However her daughter needed that to go to bed. She finally just stopped needing it a couple of months ago. We were all worried about her daughter at 3 years taking the bottle. Well everything turned out fine and she now goes to bed with out it. So I think it is fine. There will come a time when she no longer needs that.

I don't see the harm in it either. I let my daughter have her night time bottle past 2 and she is fine. Take care, C.

Congrats on brushing her teeth often, that's great. My son still hates it (and so do I)

Maybe what you could do is get a "cool" sippy cup (go for the soft spout kind as she'll want something soft and comfy at bedtime) and tell her she can have it (with water) OR her regular bottle with milk? I dont know if that would work but it could be just that she is happy to get something from you so she's not going to sleep thirsty and has the opportunity to suck something?

My son *has* to have a cold water bottle at bedtime. It is great when little ones can figure out the screw top lids for water bottles (esp when in the car!). We use a flip-straw top "juice box" style drink bottle, an insulated straw sippy cup, and plain ol small water bottles. Usually pre-frozen with an inch or two of ice and topped off with water.

My daughter is 18 months and has many things she loves also & it is difficult to take things away. You don't want them to be unhappy & you also want to avoid the tantrum for sanity. My daughter also loves milk, but she drinks it from a sippy cup about 30 minutes before bed & then I brush her teeth. I would suggest throwing all the bottles away. Out of sight & out of mind. She will be upset, but I promise it wont last more than a couple days & she will start drinking out of a sippy. I recently threw away all the binkys ( I had atleast 10 around the house)& I was pretty nervous, but after a couple days it was fine!! You can do it!!

Hi T., My son sounds very much like your daughter. He loves his bedtime bottle and I wouldn't dream of taking it away from him. He gets giddy when he sees it. We have such a lovely bedtime routine: bath, books, bottle, bed (we call it the 4 b's. We count them down each night.) and I think a happy bedtime will serve your child so much better in the long run than feeling like you must take something away because other people say so.

I agree with Jennifer Y - You won't ruin her life by giving her a bottle past the age of 2. Do what YOU feel will be best for her and good luck. It must be tough being a 19 year old single mom. Take care.

Dear T.,

I would let her keep the bottle for a while. If she's three, it's a little different, but she just turned two. Congratulations on her loving to brush her teeth!

E.

Sounds like you got enough responses but I have to add this: My youngest got a bottle until he was 4!!!!!!! It was mostly out of laziness on my and my husband's part -- it was just easier to give him a bottle at bedtime. A week or two before his 4th birthday I told him on his 4th b-day the bottle was going bye-bye. On that day I dumped them all out and that was the end of it.

By the way, my son is EXTREMELY well-adjusted.

So don't worry about it.

Hi T.
Our son is a year old and his teeth just came out in the last few weeks. Usually he falls asleep with the bottle (at night only) but we decided to stop. first because it can damage the teeth and secondly since it creates a habit. Since we know how calming is the night bottle for him we decided to make a family time out of it and started giving him the bottle half an hour earlier and read him a story in a quite atmosphere. After he finishes the bottle, he's already in a sleeping mood and than we let him brush his teeth and put him to sleep with a pacifier. It take a longer while till he falls asleep by himself (we don't rock him to sleep) but I believe it's better for the long term. We often use Tracy Hogg's book:"The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems" since she has great tips on these issues. very recommended. good luck!!

Hi T.,
Check out my profile to see my dental experience. You are taking a big chance with her teeth if you don't brush after the bottle. It isn't a given that your daughter will develop cavities, but you are putting her at risk. Just because you can't SEE any cavities/problems doesn't mean there are any. In fact, once you can see a cavity it can be much worse. I suggest what another mom did, brush her teeth right after the bottle, before you put her to bed. Early childhood caries is on the rise in the U.S. and is becoming a problem. Trust me, you don't want to deal with cavities in a little one and just because these teeth are going to fall out eventually doesn't mean they shouldn't be taken care of. If/when you want to wean her from that last bottle, try getting a special sippy cup and only use water in it or start watering down the milk until it is all water. I went cold turkey with my daughter and did the special cup thing. It took about 3 nights before she quit asking for milk. I took her to the dentist before we did this and had the dentist tell her that she can't have milk at night after brushing her teeth as it would feed the tooth bugs. Email me if you have questions.
Sincerely,
L.

I know this is late, but I thought I would add the suggestion of switching to water in the bottle at night. My daughter got the stomach flu, and we switched to water. When we reintroduced milk, it was only in a sippy cup and not at bedtime. She's 3 and half, I have been telling her, no more bottle when she turns 4.

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