Thursday, January 23, 2014

Eliminating the Nighttime Bottle: It Can Be Done!

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I did it. I’ve passed the point of no return.

Why didn’t anyone tell me I was supposed to stop giving a nighttime bottle when my baby was 9-12 months old? (She is now 18 months old…)

I can’t be alone in this dilemma, and I certainly hope I’m not the only mama out there who remains oblivious to these milestones. I just happened to Google when nighttime bottle weaning should take place (because I was starting to wonder when I should finally take away that nightly source of comfort) when I found articles that said things like, "if your toddler is still taking a bedtime bottle at his first birthday, this would definitely be the time to get rid of it" because "toddlers are more likely to get attached to things between 15 and 18 months" (Source). 

Oh boy. I have got some work to do! But there is still hope for me and my 18 month old! There are ways to wean your baby from the nighttime bottle whether or not it seems too late. We will get through this together!

Here are some tips to *hopefully* make a smooth transition to a bottle-less bedtime routine:
  • Start sooner rather than later. I am already past this point, but if you have a little one who is between 9 and 12 months old, you can start now to gradually reduce the amount of milk given in the bottle at bedtime by 1-2 ounces every 2 days or so. So, if you are currently giving baby 6 ounces of milk/formula at night, cut it down to 4 or 5 ounces. After a couple days, cut it down to 3 or 4 ounces, and so on.
  • Feed baby an adequate dinner. Try making sure baby gets enough to eat about 2 hours before bedtime. The more baby's tummy is satisfied by food provided at dinner, the less likely she will want a bottle to sate the munchies at bedtime. 
  • Maintain a bedtime routine. Sticking with baby's bedtime routine (minus the bottle) can be just as comforting and relaxing as giving her a bottle. Give baby a nice warm bath, read her a book, cuddle, and sing to her (even if you're not a singer, babies love to hear their parents' voice). It may take a bit of time for baby to adjust to the routine without the bottle, but eventually she will no longer rely on the bottle for extra comfort. If you are not ready to eliminate the bottle from the routine altogether, try giving the bottle at the beginning of the routine and gradually reduce the number of ounces given (see the "Start sooner rather than later" tip).
  • Provide an alternative object of comfort. Try replacing the bottle with a big, stuffed bear or a soft blanket (or "blankie" as my baby fondly refers to it). 
Well, I believe it is time for me to start the weaning process. I am a little late at getting to it but with these tips, I am confident that my baby (and myself!) will survive without her nighttime bottle. 

What tips or tricks have worked for you when weaning baby off the nighttime bottle? 

Additional Resources:


  1. What about 9 month old is still waking up once or twice during the night...not exactly a bottle but I would really like a full nights sleep!!!

    1. That is a great question! There are many things you could do to tailor the tips from nighttime bottle weaning to weaning from nighttime nursing. For example, you can follow tip #1 by starting now to wean from nighttime feedings. You can start gradually by reducing the number of nighttime feedings or by reducing the length of the feedings. You can also make sure your baby gets enough to eat during the day and especially at dinnertime, an hour or two before bed. If you know your baby is getting enough to eat at dinner, it will be easier to understand that any nighttime wakings from the baby is probably due to a desire for comfort rather than hunger. In the next couple of weeks, we will be writing another blog post that covers this topic more in-depth. Hopefully, we can answer all your questions with that post! Thanks for your comment.