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

S.,

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.

A.

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.

I hope you have better luck than I did. I took away my daughter's bottles at age 3 - cold turkey. She hasn't had one drop if milk since, and she is now close to 5. I've talked to the doctor about this several times, and while they tell me to keep trying with the milk they also assure me that kids can get enough calcium from other sources. Go online and look up calcium sources - you'll be surprised to see where you can find it. Good luck!

K.

You should make sure your daycare will even let him have a bottle. Most won't. And you will be surprised- once he is around the other kids all drinking out of regular cups, he won't even miss it.

Please heed the other advice here and get him to a dentist. It's past time. He needs to get used to the new place, new sensations, etc. of regular dental care. If your regular dentist doesn't deal much with young kids, consider finding a "pediatric dentist" in your area who specializes in children's dentistry.

Regarding the bottle -- You do want to get him off it before preschool because he very well may be teased by other kids if he brings one there. And I'd guess that the teachers would be very reluctant to hand a child a bottle in preschool whether you prepare it or not. Plus, at preschool he should be so busy and happy he forgets he even wants a bottle. I bet if they hand him milk in a carton or cup there, and it's the new, exciting environment of preschool instead of the familiar home setting, he drinks it because it's "what we big kids do at preschool."

I'd go with cold turkey, but presented as a wonderful big-boy milestone complete with maybe a new comforting toy he gets to pick out the moment he surrenders his bottle to the bottle fairy or puts it in a box to mail it away (I've heard of kids doing that to give up their pacifiers, maybe it would work with his bottles?) Please remember--he may fuss, fight, even cry and yell, but that will pass!

He will probably get a lot of negative attention from his teachers and peers if he still has a bottle at preschool. While this could work to help him break the habit, I don't know if you really want to make him feel bad about having the bottle. It's not his fault, and at this point it is a comfort to him.

I would increase the amount of dairy you give him in not milk form - yogurt, cheese, etc. and other calcium sources like green veggies. He doesn't need milk per se. I would just start placing bottle feedings with cups. One at a time, starting with no more bottles in public. Only offer milk and water, otherwise he is at risk of prefering juice over milk. Once he is done with the bottle, then you can increae the milk again since it is important to you.

You can't check his teeth for cavities - see a dentist. If you are brushing his teeth at least twice per day and not letting him sleep with a bottle, then they are probably fine. But he needs a professional cleaning and flouride treatment twice per year and professional inspection to see between the teeth.

Emphasize the big boy nature of things - only babies get bottles. Wean your 1 year old to a cup as is recommended by most pediatricians, and make it competative with your son - "the baby is learning to not use a bottle..." etc.

I also think your simplist and easiest route eould be "cold turkey." Just don't make it a punishment, and get him prepared and involved in the transition - picking out his own cups, letting him pour the milk, and fix his own snacks, etc.

You might try a Nuby soft spout sippy cup for his milk. I would guess that there is a great possibility that his preschool will not allow a bottle. My daughters preschool requires all 3 year olds to drink from a regular cup for teaching purposes.

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!

Your son is way too old for a bottle. They should be off the bottle at a year old. Want him to have bad teeth? They won't give him a bottle in school. Let your boy grow up!!!!!!!!!!! Since your daughter it 1. TAKE them both off the bottle. Buy ear plugs. If she does it he will. Also. If you talk to a doctor. He is getting too much milk.

We took away bottle from our oldest when he turned 1.....but when he was 23 months and his brother was born he wanted a bottle again. I was so out of it,I did not care:) He too had it in the morning, nap and night.He would get really upset if bottle was not avaliable. So one day I said enough is enough. Let's face it, 3 year old DOES NOT NEED A BOTTLE.We went cold turkey......said no more bottles,here is a cup. Girl, do you know how long it took for him to be ok with a cup?????Two days!!!!!!!!!!That was it.Our son has stuffed aminal that he uses for comfort.Stop worring, give your son a cup, he will be just fine.

I think that you have already gotten solid advice regarding taking your son to a dentist and soon. I also agree with everyone who is urging you to have him go cold turkey on the bottles in favor of a sippy cup. Perhaps he could help pick out the cup. As far as your concern with him getting enough calcium, I have a few ideas. Take comfort in the fact that calcium comes from a number of sources other than just milk--yogurt, cheese, leafy greens, etc. Even if your son's milk consumption drops temporarily from the switch to sippy cups, you could supplement with another item. What has worked for us, though, is taking a baby/toddler yogurt (sans fruit on the bottom) and mixing it with milk to make a "yogurt shake" in a sippy cup. Our 23-month-old daughter has loved this since she was about ten months old. She gets plenty of milk and calcium that way with only a small amount of sugar. You can even use adult yogurt, since your son is older, but you will want to strain out the fruit pieces so they don't clog the sippy spout. The bottom line is, if it tastes special, he may continue gulping down that calcium rich milk no matter what vessel contains it.

My last piece of advice is for you to begin offering him open cups at meal times, saving the sippy cups for on-the-go times. While he is in a high chair or booster seat, his messes can be more easily contained, and he will get practice at using an open cup. Our daughter also loves drinking from open-mouthed water bottles. It teaches them to sip and control flow without as big an opening as a traditional cup or glass.

Best wishes.

Does he have a doll? Perhaps he can feed the doll a bottle, which in turn makes him feel important and helpful, but also nurturing, turning the nurtured event (bottle) into a nurturing event (helping baby doll)

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.

Get rid of the bottles NOW! There is no reason for a 3 1/2 yo to use a bottle. Really think of why you've let him keep it this long. Then give him a deadline and that is it. It will be hard for a little while but you have to do it. He may just want them to be a "baby" like his sister. Simply tell him big boys don't have bottles only babies do. Then when he asks to do fun "big boy" stuff (riding his bike, skateboard, scooter, etc.)tell him that little boys who drink from bottles aren't allowed to that it is only for "big boys". A few days of that and he should be done. Make sure you stop your daughter a lot sooner than 3 1/2.. Good luck.

My kids are the same age as yours and cursed by our short stature. Sadly, no amount of milk will change their genetics, they are just small and we'll hope for growth spurts later on. My son has been off bottles since he was 16 months, and only uses sippy cups while on the go and in his lunch box for school. He drinks very little milk, but he does like it with Ovaltine added, or the individual Horizon boxes (because they look like juice boxes). He'll also drink it around his friends if they are drinking it. I now beleive milk doesn't agree with him 100%, so I get most of the dairy into him with yogurt products and cheese. He and my daughter love Kefir yogurt drink. I buy one flavored bottle and one plain and mix them to reduce the sweetness. We call it "smoothie", although I often make real smoothies in the blender with plain organic whole milk yogurt, frozen berries, OJ and ice. I pack a Yobaby yogurt in his lunch every day, and he often eats plain yogurt with berries or fruit preserves when he's home. I also credit the probiotics in yogurt with keeping my son healthy despite being in daycare.
Regular milk is not the miracle food we are led to beleive. If his body needs it, he'll drink it.
As far as sippy cups, my daughter just gave up bottles on her own at 14 months in favor of the Nuby soft spout sippy cup. I think she prefers the variable flow.
Otherwise, I agree with all the other posts. Good luck!

I think at 3 and a half years old and entering preschool its time to give up the bottle. Has your son seen a dentist yet?
It sounds like your son is using the bottle for comfort so maybe you could just tell him straight. Have a tal with him and tell him that he is a big boy and its time to give the bottles to a baby who needs them. Have him put the bottles in a box, wrap it up and put it out by a tree or something for the bottle fairy. In turn you should get him a new comfort, either something that he picks out or surprise him with something hes wanted that he can have at nap and bedtime. You will probably go a few days to a week with crying but don't give in if you want him to stop. The sooner you do it the better it will be when he is in preschool since he will be used to it by then. Best of luck to you.

will he is a nuby sippy cup they have the same type of plastic nipple (different shape) that he might like.

Just saw this short article on babycenter:

http://www.babycenter.com/404_my-toddler-refuses-to-give-...

Hope this is useful.

Wow, all of a sudden I feel really lucky.....my older son (now 12!!!) gave up the bottle on his own at 12 months. He never showed any interest in holding his own bottle and we always rocked in the chair during bottle time. He was WAY too busy and curious to let mom hold him back and he knew that he got juice and water in sippy cups and was allowed to "roam" while drinking those. So he started taking his milk in the sippy cup too. It was great! I also started him out with regular milk in the sippy cup while transitioning from formula to milk.....formula was for bottles and milk was for cups.

Maybe you could try to put a little chocolate powder or something "special" in the sippy cup with milk. Only give him "plain" milk in the bottle. He'll realize the good stuff is in the cup, not the bottle, and then you can start to "water" the flavor down by adding less and less if you're uncomfortable with him having chocolate milk instead of regular.

But definitely, definitely, definitely get your son to a pediatric dentist as soon as possible. Baby teeth are actually the foundation for our permanent teeth, so he needs to be checked to make sure there aren't any soft spots on his teeth now that can lead to cavities later.

Oh, and I like the "bottle fairy" idea -- I did that with the Binky for my first son....it was Christmas time and the baby reindeer needed binkies so we had to give them presents because it was just the "right thing to do." We tied bows on each one and put them in a basket next to Santa's milk and cookies with a note. It might work for the bottle too!

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.

Well, I have a one year old, and he's not really having a problem with the bottle transition (pacifire-another story:),but I think if I had that issue, I would encourage him to be a "big boy" for not drinking out of his bottle. I would give it to him less and less and let him know bottles are for babies, and big boys drink out of cups. Let him see you doing it, bring it to his attention that you (or dad) don't use a bottle...

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