How to Get Her off the Bottle??

Updated on August 25, 2008
E.B. asks from Irvington, NJ
13 answers

My dsughter is 20 months old and is still using a bottle. I know its my fault because I got in the habit of letting her use the bottle to help her fall asleep and now she cant sleep without it (even if its empty). She still wakes up in the middle of the night looking for her bottle so I've resorted to leaving it in the bed so she can have it with her. I have never used a pacifier so I just look at the bottle as her security blanket in a way but now I think its time to give it up. My question is: how do I get her to use a sippy cup and stop relying on the bottle? and can I get her into a normal sleeping routine?

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answers from New York on

I know that she's a bit old for it, but how about replacing the bottle with a pacifier? Or simply giving her an empty bottle. I doubt that she'll suck on it for long, if there's nothing in it.

You do need to get the bottle out of her bed, and as soon as possible. Allowing her to go to sleep with a bottle in her mouth every night is an invitation for early tooth decay, which will cause her problems sooner or later, and losing her baby teeth too early may cause problems with the spacing of her permanent teeth when they come in!

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answers from New York on

didnt read the replies but heres my thoughts. you shouldnt give her the bottle with milk(or juice) to sleep with for fear of damaging her teeth. so you HAVE to stop that, but there is no reason whatsoever not to let her have a bottle of water every single night. you mentioned even if it is empty, so a bottle of water should be sufficient. just place it in the crib for when she wakes up. at her age, if she needs it, dont take it away but instead make it not be harmful(meaning only water).

as for the bottle thing, do you mean get her off it only at night or in the day as well. if you want her on sippies at night, they still can only be water, so i dont know if that is your issue. just get the nuby soft spout or even better is the nuby sport spout to transition to a sippy cup. leave that in the crib with the water at night.

for the day, i would give my daughter a choice of either a nuby cup of milk or a bottle of water. she would take the cup. then when she was used to that, i switched it to a regular sippy cup with milk or the nuby with water, then she chose the regular sippy. i personally like the age of just turning 2 to do all this as there is a level of understanding and it was truly use talking about choices instead of some struggle with a baby not understanding.

regardless, just dont worry too much about the bottle until she is 2 BUT switch to only water in the bottle at night right away. if she gets upset, jsut explain its a bottle of water or nothing. or if you think she is willing, tell her she can have a sippy outside her bed of milk or the bottle of water inside her bed and see what happens. then over time, move on to eliminating the bottle to all sippies. good luck!!!



answers from New York on

Well, I haven't gotten my son off the bottle yet either and he is older than your daughter. He drinks milk in a bottle before he goes to sleep but he gives me back the bottle before he gets into bed (to avoid tooth decay problems). He can drink water and juice from a sippy cup or a straw cup (he really loves those) and will sometimes drink milk in a cup if we are not home. I think suggestion of using water in the bottle at night (let her drink her usual bottle before bed and then only have one with water only in the crib) could help her transition. My son also loves his favorite blankie. Maybe offering her a blanket or cuddly animal before you try and make the switch will help. Good luck geting through this with minimal distress for everyone.



answers from New York on

Go cold turkey like someone else said for a couple of nights. My aunt did that until finally her daughter slept without it. You should do this right away because her front teeth got rotted as well from sleeping with the bottle. You are in charge not her. It will be hard doing it as she will cry but worth it in the end.



answers from Albany on


Personally I don't see the harm in letting her use the bottleat least for naps and bedtime. When we become parents, every one has the "perfect" way to do everything and the "perfect" time to do it. BS I say.

I would keep offering her the sippy during the day. Don't even bring the bottle out unless it is nap time or bedtime. You might have to try a few different kinds. It took me finding Parents Choice at Walmart before my oldest would stop his last bottle which was the one at bedtime. He was 2 1/2.

I wish you the best and DON'T stress yourself. It sounds like you are doing a great job with your daughter. We all enjoy our pieces of comfort whether it's a food or a sweater or whatever. Our little ones need that too sometimes. :)


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answers from New York on

Please, please, please don't ever let her sleep with a bottle. I never did this and brushed every tooth since she got her first one. She still got cavities and it's heart breaking

good luck




answers from New York on

Hi. I have the same issue, and as for the posters who decided to berate us for giving our babies a bottle in bed, this is a site to ask for help and support, not to be scolded. I am a 40 year old mom with 2 small ones. My daughter would scream for hours when I tried to let her cry it out, and giving her a bottle was the only thing that worked. She finishes the bottle, then rolls over and holds onto it for dear life.

I have heard about just going in for a minute, and then spacing out the intervals, but she gets MAD, seriously po'd, and of course wakes up my almost 3 year old who is suddenly afraid to be asleep in his room by himself (he was a GREAT sleeper until recently).

I need to try again, though, b/c it's getting ridiculous getting up 2 and 3 times a night with a 15 month old.



answers from New York on

Hi E.,
A baby should never be put to bed with a milk bottle. This exposes their teeth to sugars and if they have milk before bed, they need to have their teeth brushed after the milk.
Water is okay, if she's sucking on an empty bottle I'd imagine she's getting all kinds of air in her belly. But I don't think a sippy cup is the solution - nearly 2 year olds just don't need to wake up and drink during the night. Unfortunately, you've set a habit that may be painful to break, so you need to choose whether to allow her to keep doing this, or to simply make the bottles in the night disappear and deal with the consequences. Good luck!



answers from New York on

Bottle weaning is a tough thing. I learned the hard way with my daughter, who used it until; on her 4th birthday she threw it away. I did the same thing you're doing. I felt so guilty when I took it away. So, I'd give it back or leave it at night.

In the end she got baby bottle syndrome, most of her teeth were rotted and she had to have suregry to correct them. After much pains and about $20,000 after the surgery and early braces she has perfect and beautiful teeth.

With my son...I took a 3 day weekend of crying and whinning, but by 2 years old he was off the bottle. Take the sleepless weekend and it will be over. Don't chance ruining her teeth, because you feel guilty or feel bad taking it away. Don't give her the pacifer either. That would just be replacing it for something else to get her off of.

During the day start giving her the sippy cup only or a regular plastic cup with just a little water in it, no big deal if it spills. Don't even put the bottle in sight and throw all of them away except one. You will also get tired of washing that one. If you have a sitter, insist that she do it this way.

With Labor Day Weekend coming up, it would be perfect to do then. Throw the last bottle away (out of the house). Start Friday night, by the time Monday comes, the crying & whinning will be reduced to "Ba Ba?". You just tell her no more, she is a big girl now and kiss her good night. Everyone in the house will be able to sleep ready for work on Tuesday.

Good luck to you. You sound like you're ready :)



answers from New York on

What about replacing the bottle with another "lovey" or security item? A stuffed animal is certainly nicer to cuddle with than a bottle. And its okay for her to have a security item.

To make the switch: Praise and encourage her whenever she has the stuffed animal to provide positive reinforcement. Also, try not to react to her having the bottle. If you ignore the bottle and shine attention on the stuffed animal, then she'll eventually start ignoring the bottle too.



answers from New York on

Hi E., Some children need the comfort and the sucking longer than others. You could suggest the cup but if she resists then bring it up at another time. I don't know that there is a time limit on bottle use. Why mess up her sleep routine when you have to get up in the morning. Go with your gut, not someone elses rules. Grandma Mary



answers from New York on

Just go cold turkey, 2-3 days it will be a night mare(been there) but it will worth it at the end. Our God daughter is almost 4 and is still on the bottle, 4 of her front teeth are all rotted is so sad.



answers from Rochester on

What I would suggest unfortunately is hard for any parent to do. When she wakes up during the night, go in there (don't pick her up!), let her know you're there and then a minute later leave. I had to do this with my daughter (I was always giving her the bottle at night like that and she would cry all the time) and it worked wonders! It took a few days, but after that we had no more problems. As for the sippy you still give her formula/breast milk? or juice, milk and water? If you still give her the former, then give her the latter in a sippy cup only. Don't give up, even if she's not drinking...she'll drink when she's thirsty, I promise! Stick to your guns, I know it's hard but you can do it!

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