Using a bottle like a dummy? How to cure your toddler of their bottle obsession

Posted in Bottle Feeding.

A recent episode of Helpline highlighted the pesky problem of toddlers who like to keep their bottle close as much as possible. 

Toddler using a bottle like a dummy

“My 2 1/2 year-old daughter is obsessed with her bottle,” our Helpline caller explained.

“She uses it as a dummy essentially. She has it for day naps and constantly asks for it during the day. I fill the bottle mostly with water and a splash of milk, otherwise she would have litres of milk.”

“She goes to daycare two days a week and doesn’t have it there. I know I should be strong and just say no, but when I do she loses her little mind and without it bedtime is a nightmare. I should also mention she has a six-month-old sister.”

Mothercraft nurse, Chris Minogue responded to this bottle dilemma with some sound advice. Here’s how Chris would wean a toddler off of their bottle:

“The first thing I’d do is reduce the amount of fluid she’s having,” Chris advised. “She’s certainly at an age where she doesn’t need that fluid.”

Noting that this bottle-toting toddler might have been impacted by the arrival of a new sibling, Chris explained that now that everyone’s a little more settled-in, it’s a great time to address this issue.

“Now your baby is six months old and she is six months older as well, you can reason with her now. She may not like it, but you can definitely reason with her,” Chris says.

“With a 2 1/2 year old, it’s all about how we transition them to the next stage. How are we going to get from two or three bottles PLUS demanding it during the day, to not needing a bottle at all?”

One, two, three, bin!

Chris broke the ‘weaning’ process into a series of gradual steps.

“The first thing I would do is praise her for the days where she doesn’t use it, which are her daycare days – ‘Mummy’s very proud of you; you didn’t need the bottle today at daycare’ – mainly because she doesn’t have it. We’ll use that. Praise her for the good bits.”

“The second thing I would do is explain to her that we’re only using bottles in bed,” Chris suggested, “and that she doesn’t come out of her cot or off her bed until she hands you that bottle, so that she’s making that decision of when to let go.”

“She’s certainly going to get fragile about this and say ‘no Mummy’ and you say ‘Well, you need to sit on your bed until you’re ready to give Mummy that bottle’. ”

“The other thing I would do is put half the amount of liquid in her bottle. In about three or four night’s time I would put it down to a third … So she’s getting less satisfaction from the bottle and we get her drinking more from the cup.”

The very bad weekend

Chris suggests switching to a new, special cup and transitioning the fluid from bottle to the cup.

“It’s going to take you three or four weeks to get her to having it just during her day nap and when she goes to sleep at night,” she says.

“From that point, you’re going to have the very bad weekend. You need your partner and support around you and you actually say to her ‘tomorrow you are not going to have any more bottles’.”

Chris suggests throwing the bottles in the bin and bracing yourself for what lies ahead.

“I do use a bit of bribery and corruption at this point,” Chris admits, suggesting at this point you go together to buy a nice snuggly bedtime toy to replace the comfort of a bottle.

“Then deal with any tantrums about bottles as we would any other tantrum,” she continues.

“If she has the tantrum, let her have the tantrum, then say, ‘I know this is difficult, but let’s go and find some blocks and build a house.’ So you have to use that distraction.”

“It’s slow transition and distraction that will get you through this. Have a plan,” Chris stresses.

You can watch the full episode of Helpline below.

If you've had a tough weekend wrangling small people, now is your chance to get help! It's time for Helpline with mothercraft nurse, Chris Minogue. Just leave your questions in the comments box below or call us on 1800 543 722.

Posted by Babyology on Sunday, 16 February 2020




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