When is the ideal time to wean your child off the bottle? It’s a discussion I start having in my office when my patients are about 6 months old. This is the time I advise parents to introduce the sippy cup. Many children simply play with it at this age, but it’s the first step in transitioning off of a bottle. Ideally, I like to see children off the bottle around age 1.

I am a firm believer in teaching babies around 4 months to start holding bottles on their own. his sets the stage for them to take responsibility for feeding themselves-an important step towards independence! At 6-9 months, babies will be able to hold a sippy cup themselves. By a year they should be pros At this point, you can replace the bottle with the sippy cup ALL OF THE TIME.

Many parents will tell me that their baby still wants the nighttime bottle. And I say, “It’s the parent who still wants the nighttime bottle!” Milk is milk, whether it comes from a bottle or a cup. It’s not good for teeth to drink just before bed. Better to let him finish his sippy cup before bed, brush his teeth, and then cuddle up for some reading time with you.

The benefits are greater than taking a step towards independence-your children will be less likely to develop cavities if they are off the bottle sooner. Plus, children who drink too much milk (>24 ounces/day at the age of 1 year) can develop iron-deficiency anemia. This is something I see more commonly in my patients who stay on the bottle too long.

Take the bottle away before your child is old enough to ask for it back. It will be much easier fro all of you!