Weaning baby from bottle to cup

Nov 17, 2009 at 3:30 p.m. ET

Ready for your baby to give up baby bottles and move on to cups? It can be a hard thing as a parent to make your child part ways with the baby bottle, but it's for their own good ... and with a few proven techniques from parents, you can do it. Here's how.

Baby boy and sippy cup

For some kids, parting with the baby bottle is a non-event. The parent announces it's time, and the baby goes with it. They love the growing up that comes with drinking out of a big kid cup. For others, it's a war. The bottle can become a comfort - like a trusty blanket or a favored stuffed animal. And giving it up? It's like saying goodbye to an old friend. As a parent, that can be heart-breaking. But the gains of giving it up? Totally worth it.

So, what really works when giving up the bottle? Persistence, perseverance and remembering that really and truly ... it will work. And as annoying as it is, people really are right when they say that no child has ever gone off to kindergarten with a bottle in their mouth.

Get rid of the bottles

Weaning your child is a big commitment. In fact, it's a forever commitment. And ultimately, if your baby is giving up bottles, then it's time to really save goodbye to them too. Keeping the bottles around will only make it a harder transition.

Instead, get rid of them -- and make sure your child sees you do it. "Our pediatrician gave us a great idea and it worked.  Pack the bottles up in a bag and tell your child you are going to send them off to another child who needs them more.  Make a deal out of taking them to the mailbox and saying goodbye to them and then...stay strong," said Erin Keating, whose son recently weaned.

Switch it up

Maybe your baby won't mind having their milk in a new vessel ... but if they do, then sometimes, offering a cooler, better alternative can entice kids to give up the baba. That worked for writer Melanie Edwards, who blogs at ModernMami.com. She delayed weaning her daughter, fearing that with her picky appetite, weaning would mean too little nutrition in her diet.

When the time came, Edwards offered regular milk in a sippy cup but her daughter wasn't interested. "Our main method was to give her chocolate milk in a sippy cup. I tried plain white milk (hot and cold) and she wouldn't take it, so I went for it. We told her we gave the bottles to other babies since she was a 'big girl' now," said Edwards.

Stick with it

There will be challenges. Maybe baby cries for their bottle. Maybe there will be temper tantrums. It could be just plan hard. Whatever happens, don't give up.

You've made the decision to take away the bottle for a reason, so be firm about it. No, it's not going to be fun, but giving in isn't going to help anyone ... In fact, it could stand in the way of the transition. So stand firm. "One day I just handed her a straw cup in the morning. She cried for her bottle. She did. But I was firm. She refused that first straw cup, but ate her breakfast as usual. The next morning she called for the bottle (actually for the next week or so she called for the bottle) but eventually she forgot about it. The key, I think, is just sticking with it even though it stinks," said Karen Bannan, who blogs at NaturalAsPossibleMom.com.

For more help on parenting toddlers