Trying to Get 19 Month Old off the Bottle!

Updated on August 12, 2009
M.A. asks from Dickinson, ND
14 answers

My daughter is 19 months old and we're really struggling with getting her off the bottle. She only takes the bottle before her nap and in the evening before she goes to bed. Other than that, she drinks water (sometimes juice) throughout the day in a sippy cup. She really can't have too much milk regardless because she struggles with constipation. Anyway, we've tried giving her the milk in her sippy cup, but she let's it sit there. She will not drink it if it's in the sippy cup for some reason. It will sit there all day if I'd let it! YUCK! Since she's a little on the small side and is a very picky eater, she still needs those calories from that milk. At night and before bed, I'll rock her and let her drink he bottle. It's a comfort to her no doubt. However, I always put her to bed fully awake, so it's not like she falls asleep on the bottle. I just don't know how to be rid of the bottle! If I try to just give her snacks and water before bed, she screams and cries until she gets that bottle. Is that what I'm going to have to do, just let her cry? It seems so much easier to just give her the bottle, but I know she needs to stop. I've heard it's bad for the teeth. Any suggestions? The least painful are preferred!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I would love to say that I know the answer but I am in the EXACT same spot as you. My daughter is 21months old and smaller and goes to sleep on her own. That bottle is such a routine!!! I would love any help as well. If someone has some magic trick to it please share withme too!

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answers from Des Moines on


This is one I hear a lot, mostly because when a child over 18 months comes into my daycare I tell parents the bottle has to go, because I do not allow it.
Try a nuby sippy cup that has the soft top nipple. And from now on, when you give her a bottle, put water in it. If the milk is in the cup and the water is in the bottle, it won't take her long to prefer a cup. And yes if she screams and cries until she gets a bottle, let her scream and cry. Our job is not as simple as keeping our little ones content at all times. Out job is to teach and mold, and sometimes that means we have to be the ones to say no. Whenever I hear a parent ask if they should just let their child cry I smile, because no child ever died of crying, and the only one who is truly trumatized by this whole thing is you.
As far as constipation goes, you have a couple of options. First, try adding a malt supplement to the milk. Malt is a natural laxative. In addition, if your child is small and you want her healthy, I suggest soy milk or rice milk instead of milk. I use soy with my kids every 3rd bottle to help keep their protein levels high, because they don't get enough protein in their diet. Take away the juice for now, unless it is fresh juice made with a juicer and you are juicing fruits and veggies together, which is what I recommend all parents do for their childrens health. You want your daughter to have 2 options, milk in a cup and water in the bottle. You can do fresh juice for breakfast with her normal morning foods, but then the rest of the day there needs to be a bottle with water or a cup with milk.
Believe me, if your child is thirsty she will drink from a cup. You can do vitamin drops if you are worried about nutrition, but as long as she is active and progressing on target, there is no need to be concerned even if she is low on the weight scale. Our daughter and son who are now 19 and 17 were in the 5th percentile their entire childhood and they are now taller than I am and both on full-rides to the college of their choice. And I let them cry it out more than often. You have to see this parenting thing as a long term job, not a here and now problem. Instead of worrying about how it will affect your child to cry for ten minute or even an hour, think about how it will affect her teeth and her speech to have a bottle in her mouth @ age 3.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Hi M.,

We started by switching to water in the bottle to help put our fears of rotting teeth to ease. I will admit we had the bottles thrown at us when we first did this, but we said it was water or nothing and then magically they (my twin boys) were fine with water. Warning: full diapers in the a.m.

Then we went cold turkey. When they were asleep we took the bottles out of the crib and then hid all evidence of them in a black garbage bag in the garage. When they awoke and wanted a bottle, we showed them that all the bottles were gone and that we didn't have any more. We offered a sippy cup, which wasn't pleasing to them. We set it in the bed with them but they never took it and after a couple days we quit giving it all together.

They did cry, but it only lasted a few nights and the first night was the worst.

My boys were around 20 months when we finally got rid of them. It's hard to do at this age, but completely worth the effort.

In terms of calories, I feel your pain. My boys were small and we had to work hard to get them onto the growth charts and up to the 50th percentile they are at now (almost 3). If your daughter doesn't like milk and you're worried about calories, the best thing to try would be an Ensure drink, or Boost, or something like that with calories and nutrients. Also, have you tried vanilla soy milk? She might like the flavor of that better. If you haven't had soy milk before, just know that not all brands are the same. They each taste different and you'd have to try around for a brand she'd like. I don't suggest chocolate because it can be too addicting at this age, but a vanilla might be ok.

Just my thoughts and my story. Good luck!



answers from Cedar Rapids on

I am struggleing with this 17 month old is very attached to her bottle and I was going to post a question so I will be very interested in seeing your responses.

I have read a few things like always affer the cup first. Which I have done but she will really throw a fit, crying and acting like she is going to throw up. She even makes gaging noises at the milk in a cup and refuses to drink it. I keep offering but the cup isn't working yet.

I also read that putting only water in the bottle and saving the milk for cups, which I tried but she likes drinking water too and didn't seem to care that it was in the bottle.

She doesn't carry around a bottle so that was good she only gets it at nap and bed time too. I asked the doctor about it and he said he wasn't too concerned becasue she wasn't carying a bottle around with her all day.

I also read that taking them to the store is a good idea for them to pick out a cup but while your at the store you also buy a slow flow nipples, that way it will be harder for them to get the milk out of the bottle and then they will want the cup.

Someone even suggested putting the nipples in really really hot water as it can seal the nipple hole and then the nipples won't work on the bottle and then the kids will not want it.

Good Luck I hope to have our bottle gone soon.



answers from Minneapolis on

What is the problem with letting her have a bottle at nap time and bedtime?? My daughter had a bottle at nap and bed until she was three. No crying, no problems, no bad teeth, everyone happy and healthy, and comforted. I don't get who writes the rules about when things "need" to be taken away from babies. If you put her in bed awake, then you can have her rinse her mouth with water or even brush between the bottle and bed if you are worried about her teeth. (I did not do this with my daughter and her teeth are perfect, according to our dentist.)



answers from Omaha on


We too fell into the bottle habit at bedtime, it is just so much easier. I have two daughters and they both took the bottle until 15 months. My first daughter we started putting more and more water in her bottle every night, but she knew. She would take a drink look at her bottle and throw it back at us and say milk. So we ended up cutting her off cold turkey, it took a week of her crying every night but we didnt give in and she finally stopped. She is now 3 and still has to have a sippy cup of water by her bed, for comfort.

My 2nd daughter, we did the bottle fairy. She helped me find all of the bottles, and we put them in a box and left them outside the front door, telling her the fairy was going to take the bottles to babies and she will get a prize. Later that evening my husband replaced the bottles with brand new, neat looking sippy cups. She loved it and we never looked back again. However, make sure you find all the bottles the first time, she is now 20 months and if she finds a bottle she puts it by the door and waits for the bottle fairy. Good Luck




answers from Sioux Falls on

You just have to take it away. Period.
One of my children literally screamed for 2 1/2 days,
So I suggest you be strong and not give in. Otherwise, it will just be a battle. A suggestion for the future, which I had to learn the hard way, take the bottle away when the child is a year, it goes much easier....
Good luck.



answers from Duluth on

never give bottles of milk to kids at bedtime, the milk leaks out the bottle and can cause lots of dental issues (which no one notices because no dentist in my area takes kids under 3!!)

so at bedtime i would only give her water.

dont worry about her drinking milk if she eats fruits and vegetables and has a vitamin that she takes every day. milk, believe it or not, is not necessary, and there are soy milks, and almond milks that are MUCH more healthy. dont get me wrong, i still drink milk, but from what i have learned it causes health problems more often than not, and people dont even realize they are lactose intolerant. there is also nothing wrong with giving her only skim milk

good luck with the bottle thing. its SO hard to get rid of once they have it. do you want to use a pacifier? that might help, though then you have to get rid of that too! might have some suggestions you might like.



answers from Minneapolis on

I like the Nuby sippy cup as well. It is all silicone and is like a giant nipple, except shaped like a normal sippy cup spout. That helped my son get used to the shape of a sippy cup and then he was able to transition to a regular one. I like the Playtex Insulator personally because it truly does not leak. You might also want to try one with a straw. I bought a Munchkin brand sippy cup that has a soft straw that can fold into the top and gave it to my son around 13 months and it only took him 5 minutes to figure it out. Once they can drink from straws they can drink from anything. She might like that idea better...and you can buy a few cool looking straws to get her excited about it.
Maybe you could let her have milk in the bottle during the day and only water before bed? Or if she does want milk before bed, let her drink it but make her brush her teeth afterwards.
Either way you will only be delaying the inevitable. At some point the bottle will have to go, so it is probably better to go cold turkey. She will be fine even if she refuses to drink out of anything for a day or two.
When I rock my son to sleep I give him a sippy cup with water in it, and when I put him in the crib [fully awake also] I let him keep the sippy cup in there. He holds it in his arm like he would hold a stuffed animal and hugs it all night when he is sleeping. The Playtex one does not leak at all, so he has it for comfort and if he wakes up in the middle of the night he can drink from it and I don't have to worry about wet sheets in the morning. I have tried taking it away and trying to get him to hold his favorite stuffed puppy instead, but have given up because it is doing no harm.



answers from Green Bay on

Hi M.

You need to take her shopping with you and let her pick out the sippy cup she will use . And have her throw the bottles away and just tell her big girl and no more bottles no matter how much she cries . My nephew had a bunch of teeth pulled because they were so bad from having the bottle up tell he was 2 . My brother said it was not much fun .



answers from Duluth on

When we adopted our daughter, she was 22 months old. Because of the great bonding of snuggling the baby while giving her a bottle, we let her keep it till she was three. We also put her to bed awake with no bottle. She has great teeth, no cavities. She's twelve now and just starting orthodonture. The fact that she is small and has large teeth has nothing to do with bottle use. Her teeth overlap and the second teeth are coming in on top of her baby teeth. Simple crowding.



answers from Madison on

About a month ago I went through almost the exact same thing with my now 19 month old. The only difference was that I put him to bed in his crib with his bottle which he started to wake up for in the night as well (even though he's been an all-night sleeper since he was about 2 months old). One night he took the bottle off the table while I got the milk from the fridge and he was having too much fun with me chasing after the bottle so I decided he just did not get to have it that night. I am a tough love type of mom so I let him cry it out for about 25 minutes before he fell asleep (it was never an extreme cry). That night he slept through for the first time in about 4 months. At his next nap I did not give him a bottle again and he went right down. That night, it took about 15 minutes of sobbing and about 5-10 minutes the 3rd night. By the fourth night, things went smoothly.
Nutrition-wise, have you tried to give her something like Boost?



answers from Milwaukee on

M....I'm in your same exact boat, but with my twins. My Mom and my MIL tell me the same thing as Sue W. Why do you need to take it away? They said they never did when us kids were little and we turned out fine. I still would like to get them off of it, but not if it requires days of screaming and no sleep. Anyway... good luck, would love to know what you end up doing. BTW...nuby sippy cups are not necessarily the magic cure...I've spent lots of money on lots of different sippy cups (including the nuby ones) and my twins just don't like them.



answers from Minneapolis on

With my 2 older boys, I just started putting only water in the bottle and then, after a few weeks, tell them the bottles are going bye-bye. Each of them only asked for a bottle a few times and were sad when I told them they were gone, but it was not bad at all. They transitioned well.
Your daughter will most likely start drinking milk from a sippy if that is her only option. If she doesn't, she can get the calories and calcium from other dairy products like yogurt and string cheese.

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