How Can I Get My 14Mos Old to Drink Milk So I Can Wean Him?

Updated on July 28, 2010
S.M. asks from Bradley Beach, NJ
14 answers

Hi Moms - My son is 14mos old and still nurses at night and in the mornings, which is something I am trying to stop. The problem with weaning him is that he will not drink milk. He has never had a bottle (well we tried a few times so I could catch a break, but he would rather starve) so I don't want to try giving him milk in a bottle now that he is this old. I purchased some new soft tip sippy cups thinking that might encourage it rather than the hard tipped ones he is accustomed to using, but no go. I have tried introducing the milk cups to him during the day when he is looking to nurse but he will take one sip and turn his head. (I have been refusing to nurse him during the day and just rocking him to get him to sleep or distracting him if it's not nap time). This week I have tried giving him the breast briefly when he wakes in the morning then pulling the switcharoo to the cup - No Go. I have tried going downstairs and warming up milk and giving him the cup with no nursing and he screeches like he is being stabbed and wakes up his sister and all the dogs on our block. I just don't know what to do. Neither of my kids like to drink milk and since I can't stand it I am not setting an example by drinking it. I give calcium suppliments and my 3 yr old has to have one cup a day which she will only drink if flavored, but even when the little one steals her sippy he will not drink it when there is milk in it. Any suggestions on how to wean and get my son on milk? I feel selfish cutting him off nursing but we are going away for the wkend in October and he needs to be weaned by then not to mention the fact that I have been pregnant and nursing for four years now and could use a break. THANKS Moms

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So What Happened?

I am really grateful to everyone for their thoughtful suggestions. Weaning is a hard decision and I actually feel GUILTY about it since I nursed his sister until she was 22 months old and I was 28 wks prego with him, but this w/e away in Oct is actually the wedding reception we never got to have due to the suprise of our daughter and my dad's illness so it is impt to me (and my husband) to be able to do it - Can you imagine trying to nurse in a wedding dress???? A few of you suggested pumping and giving him breast milk in a cup then mix with milk, but wont that increase my supply all over again when I am trying to decrease? Also he refused breast milk from anything other than the source as as infant so I am not sure he will take it now. I am going to get a qt of goats milk and try that and see how it goes. He does eat yogurt and cheese and calcium rich veggies so maybe I am making it harder on myself by trying to replace breast milk with regular milk since several of you suggested that he just might not like it/tolerate just like me. I will see if I can get dad to offer the night time cup to him and put him down, but not sure he can take over the 5:15am since he works 12 hrs a day. I know it is just a comfort for him and he has been very reluctant to give up his daytime nursing which has affected his napping. I actually think the hardest one for him will be the morning one since he's been away from mom for a while (he slept in our bed until a few months ago when I realized the only way to get rid of the middle of the night feedings were to close the all nite diner!) I will keep you posted and probably come back to you for moral support since as much as I need to do this I am very sad about it as well. Thanks again mamas!!

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answers from New York on

Hi - yes you need a break! How about doing this in a few steps.. pump breast milk and let him recognize that he is getting the same mom's milk but in the sippy cup. Try this a bunch and once he starts using the cup, start putting 75% breast milk and regular milk, and slowly decreasing?

Good luck!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

What if you offer him milk, either in a regular cup or a sippy, at times when he doesn't want the breast, like during playtime as a snack with a few teddy grahams or something that he likes? That's what I did with my daughter. I would offer it up like a snack instead of trying to replace it with a nursing session or quickly taking the breast away and giving milk. It was easy for me because my daughter was basically weaning herself, but I KNOW my son is going to be a challenge, I can just feel it! Don't feel selfish about weaning, your son is 14 months old and there is no longer any nutritional need to nurse your son, it would mainly just be for comfort. My daughter was never a big milk drinker, she only drinks it occasionally and she is very healthy. There are other ways for your son to get calcium. Maybe when your son wants to nurse, try to distract him with a game or something. Good luck!

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answers from Washington DC on

well, it'll be harder now because he associates the cup with something he doesn't like. the best thing would be to give him breast milk in the cup, so he's getting something he actually likes. then you can slowly start mixing milk in with the breast milk. but your first step is to get him drinking from the cup. you're not being selfish, but he's probably feeling hoodwinked. no switcharoo, and no milk until he's okay with the cup. then make the change slowly.

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answers from New York on

In my experience, if you just commit to weaning, it's over in 3 days - the longer you give in the longer it's screaming as if dying. The distraction thing worked for us for the mid day feeds, too. I found bribing (which I NEVER do) worked - give him something else he never gets - I used animal crackers. My friend used Ghiradelli chocolates - everytime the child wanted to nurse when she was doing the final 'no more ever'.

Re: Milk. Just give lots of green veggies in his life and he'll get the calcium. If you hate and they hate it, call milk quits. Give him lots of running around time (builds strong muscles and bone density), a few hours outside every day - for vitamin D absorption - so calcium is absorbed.

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answers from New York on

I am a total sucker about nursing (forgive the pun) - even longer term nursing - but also completely sympathetic to your challenge. Your son is 14 months old, not 6 months old, so you have given him a great head start! Between the two of yours, you have been nursing them for years.
But also, some of us are just not built for cow milk. My brother and I could not tolerate it. Sometimes babies turn away for good reason. My bro and I have had digestive woes since babyhood, not having been breast fed (though the other three did fine.)
I wonder about goat's milk for your little ones. It is expensive, but I used it for years when my younger son developed food sensitivities and health problems (around age two.) The protein in goat's milk is much more easily digestible by human babies - more similar to the protein in human milk than cow's milk protein from what I know. GM is an acquired taste for some, but my guys loved it as (homemade) yogurt in fruit smoothies for years. They did not like "regular" cow's milk or cow's milk yogurt for years - now one does. Milk is not really needed after they are about three, IMO. Somehow I doubt you are looking for a time-consuming solution to your problem (ie making goat's milk yogurt) but just in case you want to try it, you can get yogurt makers on line. In any case, hang in there, and good luck with finding your solution.

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answers from New York on

Dear S.,

I'm going to be brief, since others have brought up related things, but if neither your baby, your older kids, nor you can stand cow's milk, there's a good possibility of a heredity dairy intolerance in your family -- whether it's the lactose, the protein, or something else. I really recommend taking this problem seriously and considering the alternatives that others have suggested in this thread. My own son cannot have any dairy. He gets his calcium from "green smoothies" made with spinach or kale and his fatty acids from fish and avocado. He's a healthy, super-smart little boy who started reading at three-and-a-half. So don't believe everything the corporate milk lobby says :)


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answers from Detroit on

Hi S.---You don't need cows milk to wean your baby from nursing. This may not be exactly the answer you are looking for in terms of weaning suggestions, but, I am hoping to help relieve some of your anxiety about what to give him to drink. (it's been a LONG time since I've weaned my youngest)

I work with a Naturopath who has her PhD in Nutrition. I've learned that cows milk is not a health food, in fact, it actually causes many problems in the human body. Please explore and it's parent website And read The China Study by T Colin Campbell. Also, lots of info at (?).

Healthy plant based substitutes include soy, almond, rice and coconut milks. There are others. Just keep trying to see what it is that you and your kids will like. Again I just drink water and use one of the plant milks for cereal, baking, smoothies and even mashed potatoes.

I have great charts that lists calcium content from various food sources. We get more absorbable calcium from green leafy veggies such as broccoli, kale and bok choy and from sesame seeds, almonds and soy that we would ever get from cows milk. At our house, we also use a whole food based supplement (that is available in gummies) that has all of those wonderful greens in it.

But for the weaning, loving persistence and patience is in order. Keep trying. It takes several tries to introduce a new habit. Oh, check out to see if he has any suggestions. I have the honor of working with the Dr. Sears family so I know that they are very astute, conservative and well-loved by their patients.

Good luck. Let us know how it turns out. And, btw, it just may take the seperation for him to realize that now is the time to adjust to life no longer nursing. He may not like it, nor you, but you will all be fine. In health, D.

PS. I'd be honored to help with any other questions you might have about optimal health and nutrition.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I won't repeat any suggestions you have, as you have some great ones already - I think Jennifer L's sounds very logical. But have you tried a hard-tipped sippy cup? My son was still nursing at 12 months when I started to wean him. I tried soft-tipped sippy cups and he'd BITE them. didn't want him to bite me too, so got rid of those and used a hard-tipped one (Take N Toss).

Don't feel selfish cutting him off at 14 months. Many babies don't get BF for that long, so you are a very self-LESS M.. He'll thank you one day. Hang in there!



answers from New York on

My daughter didn't like milk at first so I mixed it with formula (she was breastfed until 8 months, then switched to formula) to get her used to the taste. If you can pump, maybe mix 3/4 breast milk with 1/4 regular milk and slowly changing the ratio.



answers from Tampa on

my son at 12 mths didnt want milk either or water. he just wanted him formula....i couldnt i started to try different things. since he didnt drink milk i started trying the different flavors they sell at walmart of "milk" in da baby food isle. i forgot the name but they are lil yellow bottles. he started drinking those and of course the pediasure flavors of strawberry and vanilla. now he drinks reg milk but it has to have strawberry quick so i only give him 2 cups a day and the rest is juice and solids.

at 14 mths he can be getting the most of his nutrician from solid foods and juice. dnt worry so much about milk but try those items i mentioned above. it did wonders for my son.



answers from New York on

My son didn't want to be weaned at 12 months but it was time. When I got him down to just a morning and night feeding, I decided to wean the morning first, since the night helped him sleep. In the morning, I offered him a sippy cup...he didn't want it at first so I gave him food. Kept giving him the cup...and he pushed it away. It really took a few days...but when they realize that's all they are getting to drink, they learn fast...they won't starve. Then the night one is easy...I did all the other parts of the night routine...rocking, teeth brushing, singing, reading. He forgot about the missing milk. Now my boys are 2 and 3 1/2 and the sleep 12 hrs a night...both drink from cups with straws and no drinking after 6pm. Hang in there and good luck.



answers from New York on

When I weaned my daughters (both at 14mos), I mixed breastmilk with warmed organic whole milk . You can start out with mostly breastmilk and just 1/4 whole milk and then slowly over a week or so, increase the whole milk until it is only whole milk. My husband was the one to give it to them at bedtime. That was the 1st nursing I removed. Then we switched to a sippy with whole milk for both naps - one at a time. From start to finish, we weaned over about a month. Although at 14 months, they were only nursing 4 times in a 24 hr period (after breakfast, for morning nap, afternoon nap, and at bedtime).

It sounds like you also need to tackle getting him through the night w/o nursing. That, to me, is a separate issue.... I would personally probably work on him making through the night first, and then wean him during the day.

Good luck!



answers from San Diego on

How about pumping and giving him breastmilk? You have nursed for so long that you obviously know the benefits of breastmilk. I still nurse my 33 month old, which isn't for everyone, but he had a horrible stomach virus a few months ago and the only thing keeping him out of the hospital was the fact that he could keep down the breastmilk about 1/2 hour longer than anything else!

I detest milk, we don't drink it, so no suggestions here on how to get him to drink it.

The question you need to ask yourself is what does your son need from the breastmilk nutritionally. I don't know what kinds of solids he is on, so I can't help. Does he need calcium, vitamin D? He can get all of that from lots of foods, so just take a hard look at his diet and figure that out. Will he eat yogurt? That has everything that milk has and more.

I am just not a big fan of milk. We drink water at our house...but then again, both my boys nurse I don't worry too much about their nutrition.



answers from New York on

Mom...I'm sure my answer is not a "medically sound" one, second child never DID make the switch to milk, with or without a bottle. When I thought it was time to start weaning him, I started shortening his feeding sessions. As soon as his gaze wandered, or he came off to look around, I put it away. After a week or two of that, there was just so little milk left! Oh, and I only offered him the breast if he asked for it. Eventually, there was so little milk left, he actually screeched if I DID try to nurse him! (he was about 12 months old at this point.) We tried bottles...and he HATED them. So he didn't have milk. He would eat some cheese, and we made sure to give him TriViSol (a baby vitamin). Around 13 months, he suddenly WANTED bottles, with milk. 5 days later, he caught a NASTY stomach flu, and wanted nothing to do with bottles again. Fast forward to 20 months old. He's suddenly CRAVING milk, and will drink two-three sippy cups a day.

I guess my point first child was weaned onto bottles at one year, and weaned OFF of bottles at two years. My second child....was just weaned, and didn't drink any milk for nearly a year. I made sure to find him apple juice with calcium whenever I could, but even so...he grew up just fine. He's a strong and healthy (and opinionated!) little man!
Do what works for you. the end of the day, do what makes you comfortable. I had a sister who drink (exclusively) chocolate milk for nearly a year. She had gone on a milk strike, and my Mom couldn't get her to drink milk, or eat cheese...or drink anything else, for that matter. She was two, and very nearly put herself in the hospital. (Stubborn runs in my family.) Then, one morning, she came downstairs and said, "God told me to drink chocolate milk." And that's what she did! hahaha

Good luck!

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