27 answers

Need Help Getting 3 1/2 Year Old Son to Give up Bottle

My son is almost 3 1/2 years old and will be starting preschool this fall. He drinks whole milk from the bottle once in the morning, once in the afternoon before his nap and once before bedtime. He has no problem drinking from a sippy cup or a regular cup for all other drinks except milk. Or if he drinks milk from a cup, its not as much compared to how much he drinks from the bottle. Since my husband and I are pretty small in height, I want my son to continue to drink the amount of milk he is now. Plus, I've been constantly checking his teetch for cavities that might have been caused by his bottle drinking and have not detected any, which also makes me not mind his drinking from a bottle. But with preschool fast approaching, I'm not sure what to do. Do I prepare his bottles so that his preschool teacher can give it to him? Ideallly, I want him to be off the bottle before then, but need some suggestions on how to do so.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

So its been about half a week now where we have swapped all daytime bottles with sippy cups and allowed him to drink one bottle at night. We plan to take away or swap out the night time bottle within the next week or so. And everything has been going well. There was no tantrums or crying, just a lot of talking and explaining to my son that he is a big boy now. Thanks to all the mothers who offered their advice. Also, I've scheduled a dentist appointment for my son as well.

Featured Answers

Okay, this might be kinda mean, but I just threw the bottles away when he wasn't looking. Then feigned 'I can't find them', SO we 'looked & looked' for them to no avail. So then told him if he wanted something to drink, he was gonna have to use the sippy cup or a regular cup/glass. So he still had a choice- he went with the sippy. He did try to pull the let's go buy new, But I told him they just didn't make bottle for 3yo's.( I admit to using the same 'they don't make them' mentality for getting him out of pull ups too.) Good luck!

First of all, when he goes to preschool, the other kids will be drinking from regular cups, not sippy cups or bottles. So I would not send a bottle to preschool, he will most likely be called a baby.

I would work on switching both kids to the cup, and get rid of bottles, or tell him that the new baby will use the bottles, and he's a big boy so he can use a cup. Have him wrap them as a present to his new sibling.

And finally, by the time you can see a cavity in his tooth, it is WAY too late. Take him to the dentist.

Hi S. -

It looks like you've gotten some good advice -- I agree about the dentist and giving up the bottle. Have you tried leaving the bottle for the "Bottle Fairy" in exchange for something else (a new toy, etc...)? Just a thought. A girlfriend of mine did that successfully with one of her daughters at 3 years old.

Good luck
A. T.

More Answers

It's time to let the bottle go. Since he is your oldest it's hard to know what to do, but if he's old enough for preschool he needs to give it up. Bottles are literally for babies.

Wean him down to one bottle at night, then switch the bottle to a sippy cup. Straws are also a fun way to drink--maybe milk w/a fun straw. I sound tough but I admit my daughter still took a sippy of milk to bed until age 4. We gave her a deadline (saturday, next monday, his birthday, whatever works) and did a huge countdown and made her give it up--we talked about how big she was. She didn't look back. He'll take milk eventually--kids are very resilliant. Time to move forward!! It may be you don't want to let your "baby" go but believe me as they grow it only gets better and better.

One other thought--when I sent my daughter to bed w/milk I realized she would hold back on her other food knowing milk was coming later. Your son needs all the nutrition he can get so don't load him w/milk so he is too full for food.

1 mom found this helpful


My daughter is now five. At 2 1/2 I made her give up her bottle. I had a purchased every kind of sippy cup made trying to find one that she would drink milk out of; she wasn't interested in any of them. One day I couldn't stand it anymore, and very loudly threw out all her sippy cups, which got her very upset. But I realized a couple of things after this incident.

She likes her milk warm and she liked the cuddle and comfort of drinking milk from her bottle. I decided the warm milk wasn't an issue, so I continue to warm her milk. She prefers soft straws on covered cups rather than hard plastic sippy cups. When she first switched to a straw cup, she sat in my lap to drink her milk, so she still got the cuddle and comfort. I still bring her milk in the morning, so I know she's gotten some hydration right awasy (hey, my husband brings me coffee; it's just a nice thing to do) and she drinks milk for breakfast, so she is getting the recommended amount of milk first thing. When my mother got me off the bottle (finally), I refused to drink milk at all, much to her chagrin. I add a splash of vanilla Pediasure to my daughter's milk, just to be sure she still likes it. Low-fat chocolate milk is okay, too. It has less sugar than fruit drinks.

How long will your son be in preschool? If he is only going to be in school for three hours, just pack a light snack with a box drink. You can buy milk in small boxes, too. BJ's sells New Horizon organic milk drink boxes for a reasonable price. But don't send a bottle, the teacher is not going to mess with it at all, and you might get an earful from her about "babying" your son.

I hope your son is out of the high chair/booster seat by now, so potential mess and spills can be an issue. With a one year old and a baby on the way you don't need to make extra work for yourself. I don't think the straw covered cups are as questionable as the spouted sippy cups. Adults still drink through straws, and since the drink is directed more to the back of your mouth, past the teeth, the liquid is less likely to wash against your teeth.

By the way, you can't see cavaties. The dentist finds them with a probe because they start out as soft spots in the enamel. So I echo the other posters that you need to get your son to the dentist asap. Some dentists think you should bring in your child when they get their first tooth. Others say wait until the child is 2 1/2 or three. If you see a rotten tooth, it's too late and the tooth is lost. And improper dental hygiene is not always the issue. My daughter had three cavaties in her molars because the groves in her molars are so deep. No amount of brushing would have prevented the cavaties. You can also buy pre-threaded flossers with a small arm spread (I think it's make by Oral-B). You can teach your son how to floss without having to wrap floss around your fingers or his.

I hope this helps. Your son probably still lides the bottle because of the comfort associated with it. You can get rid of the bottle but still keep the comfort.


1 mom found this helpful

Umm this is a tough one for moms. Basically babies/kids hate changes. But as an adult and so much help and insights from other moms you will have to make that growth change.
You can't just throw away all the bottle 'cause he can always borrow one from his sister :)
This one takes co-operation from everybody in the house. You can take him shopping and pick that special sipper for milk. You or your husband should try and help him out in the morning before you leave to work and one at night. Don't worry about his afternoon milk. He should be eating more solids anyways. Try cheese and yogurts to replace that afternoon milk.
I was in the same boat when my husband decided they were done with the bottles when my girls turned 18 month. And I really thank him for that. Now they both drink 6/8 oz in the morning with their breakfast and another 8oz in the evening. My married life was pretty tough until my girls turned 2 :), too many decisions to take about the changes in the food.
And for their weight, I add nestle carnation powder to the milk.
They drink their milk in cups with a straw. One of my twin has started to drink in our coffee mugs without the straw :)
And you know what, once he goes to preschool he will see other kids drink out of a cup or with straws and he will learn.

1 mom found this helpful

You said he will drink milk from the cup, but not as much. I would experiment with different types of cups and just trust that after he gets used to the cups, he will drink the appropriate amount.

If he goes to school still taking a bottle, he will likely drop it quickly as I can't imagine many other children will still be on a bottle. Peer pressure, particularly the desire to fit in, can be a friend.

Hi S.,

Take some parenting classes and learn some ways to discipline your children.

Contact resource for information:

www.kidspriorityone.org or ###-###-####

Hope this helps. Good luck. Donne

We did it cold turkey too. We packed up all the bottles and nipples ( and I mean ALL of them, not keeping one for "emergencies" lol), put them in a trashbag and let our daughter put them in the trash can while singing a " Bye Bye Bottles" song. She asked for " milk" at bedtime but I made her recall the " Bye Bye Bottle' song and she said " OK" , grab her Teddy bear and went off to sleep. I realize that other kids will not act like that but I can tell you if you make it clear to your son that there will be no more bottles and he is envolved in the disposal proccess, he will be just fine.

I had my kids give up sippy cups at 3. They need to learn to drink responsibly from a cup. Sippy cups maybe for traveling. Most likely you are the one comforted by the bottle because you know it makes him happy and you don't want to experience his upset. I know this because that is why I let my 3rd child keep her bottle until 18 months. Do not let him take a bottle to preschool! Get rid of all of them - no backups. You can do it, MOM!

Also regarding his teeth. I thought my 2nd child who is almost 6 had beautiful teeth. She took such care of them, brushing so enthusiastically morning and night - no noticeable spots on them. She went to the dentist yesterday and after he reviewed her x-rays she has FOUR (4) cavities between her teeth. I couldn't believe it!

i would switch the younger child to a cup. then you won't be having this battle again in two years. perhaps when your son sees the baby drinking from the cup it will help him want to be big. or maybe ask him to give up the bottles for the new baby. most 1 yo's can drink from a cup.

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