A Parent’s Predicament: Taking Away the Bottle or Pacifier

Knowing when to take away the pacifier or bottle can be difficult for any parent. These tips can help make this process easier for both parent and child.

Making the choice to no longer offer a pacifier or bottle to your baby is a very difficult decision. The bottle and pacifier both provide comfort and entertainment to your baby (and a break for many stay at home mothers). It is often just as difficult to wean the parents of these useful commodities as it is for the child.

When Should One Stop Giving Their Child The Bottle or Pacifier?

As with any habit, it is easier to break sooner than later. The pacifier and bottle are more than a habit for your baby; taking these items away from your child is more than removing objects – it is the process of teaching your child to soothe and comfort themselves. It may take a lot of time for an infant to adequately learn these skills; the process should be approached with love and respect.

  • Begin by teaching your baby that they do not need the object – encourage coping with their emotions in a different manner. Presenting your child with a new blanket, teddy bear, or an exciting cup may assist in the process.
  • Only begin this process when your baby is healthy, happy, and free from all other developmental stresses (i.e. teething, arrival of a new sibling). Removing these objects at the wrong time can produce additional distress for your child.
  • Be patient with the process – approach it slowly. It is important to take it a day at a time. Consider this procedure similar to the act of learning to walk – any progression takes time. Be sure to provide additional love and comfort to your child during this time.

It is recommended that your child is weaned from the bottle by 18 months of age and that they discontinue the use of a pacifier by age three.

Why Remove the Pacifier/Bottle?

There are many reasons why the bottle or pacifier should be removed your child’s lifestyle. When a young baby receives a bottle, they do so in their parent’s arms. Once the milk is gone or the baby is asleep, the baby no longer has access to the bottle. As your child continues to grow, they will want to hold the bottle in the crib with them and eventually walk around the house holding the bottle. This habit of constant exposure to milk is not good for young, growing teeth and appetites. Children who have constant access to their bottle do not consume as many calories in their meals and many times struggle with nutritional deprivation – not to mention tooth decay from chronic lactose exposure.

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  1. This article won a “Triondy” for w/e 6/15/08. Thank you for a great read. I know others will find this article very useful too.

  2. For us the cold turkey approach was the best one. We started introducing a sippy cuppy several months before, but as soon as our kids had their first birthday, the bottle was gone.

    We had one child who wouldn’t do anything with the sippy cup even right up until the day the bottle was gone. I had a few anxious moments, but she realized it wasn’t coming back and adapted within a few hours.

    It helped that we rarely put our kids to sleep with a bottle. I don’t think they were as attached to it as a comfort item.

    Our last child started using a sippy cup at seven months old and was never really interested in a bottle again. We were very blessed.

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