Slowly diluting her bottle of milk with water makes it less appealing.

How to Get a Bottle Away from a Toddler

by Christina Schnell

You have visions of tossing her beloved "baba" out the car window every time you find another plastic vessel of sour milk. And when the dentist tells you toddler's bite if forming incorrectly, or that she has cavities from sleeping with a bottle, your suspicions are confirmed. The truth is, your little one doesn't need a bottle after her first year, and delaying the transition to sippy cup only increases her chances of malformed teeth and dental decay. Also, giving your toddler a bottle of milk or juice fills her tiny belly up, meaning she'll be even less interested in eating the healthy food you've worked so hard to prepare. How to get your toddler away from her bottle depends on your child's age and your own tolerance level for screaming.

Host a "Hello Big Kid, Bye Bye Bottle" celebration party where you present your toddler with a new "big kid" cup and ceremoniously discard all her bottles. This approach works best with toddlers who are at least 2 years and older, so she understands what's happening. The success of this plan relies on your enthusiasm, lots of buildup to the big day and your commitment to actually throwing out every single bottle in the house.

Make a big deal about how, now that she's a big kid, she doesn't need bottles anymore. Take her on a special shopping trip to pick out a few big-kid cups (aka sippy cups) that she finds particularly appealing. That evening, have a special ceremony where you present her with her new big-kid cup and allow to her toss her bottles into the recycling bin. She may still protest when her regularly scheduled bottle time arrives, in which case you'll need to remind her that she's now a big kid and you don't have any bottles in the house.

Dilute her bottle of milk or juice with water over the course of a few weeks. Start out with one part water and five parts milk, and increase the water content by one part each week. This is a good approach for younger toddlers who won't necessarily understand the fanfare of a "Bye Bye Bottle Party" or the concept of "big kid" cups. If she notices the difference, and she very well might, tell her she can either drink what you gave her or choose not to have a bottle at all. Ultimately, when the bottle is almost entirely water, she'll find it less appealing, which makes it easier to phase out completely.

Eliminate one bottle session over a period of a few weeks. For example, if your toddler normally has a bottle first thing in the morning, another before her nap and one before bedtime, start by eliminating the morning bottle first. Yes, screaming may ensue -- possibly a lot of screaming for the first couple of days. She'll live. Stand your ground, offer her a sippy cup and tell her that she can have a bottle in the afternoon and at night before bed. Remove the bedtime bottle last, and offer some kind of replacement reward, such as a new stuffed animal.

Items you will need

  • Sippy cup


  • At the end of the day, getting your toddler off her bottle, pacifier or any other comfort item relies solely on your persistence. She simply can't have what you don't give her. And, yes, eventually she will stop screaming.


  • When eliminating the bottle, don't trade one bad habit for another. For example, don't offer a pacifier if your child has never used one before, and don't allow her to take her sippy cup to bed as a consolation comfort. Not only does the sugar in milk and juice make her mouth a breeding ground for dental decay, it makes her bed a wet, sticky mess.

About the Author

Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.

Photo Credits

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