Weaning a Child from Bottle Feeding
Every parent is a witness to how kids love their milk bottles. Apart from the mother’s breast, milk bottles had always been a source of nutrition for babies until a certain point in their growth. But making the transition between milk feeding to solid foods is not always easy for many children and is also a struggle for the parent.
While some children wean from their milk late than others, most pediatricians agree that the weaning process should start at the child’s first year of age. However, there are good reasons why that is the case. Two of these are:
1. Chronic bottle drinking may damage the baby’s growing teeth
Formulated milk, while ideal for the baby’s diet, is not necessarily friendly for the child’s growing teeth. According to a University of Iowa professor, Art Nowak, MD, the acidic solution that comes with a formulated milk has the power to decalcify the baby’s teeth or otherwise develop cavity to it.
2. Bottle drinkers consume more milk than what’s necessary
Toddlers who consume their milk from the bottle are said to ingest 8 ounces more than what’s proper for children their age, said Suzanne Corrigan, MD, from Irving, Texas. Yes, toddlers must be served three servings of dairy a day. But these number of servings should only be tantamount to 16 to 24 ounces of milk.
Although, for some, that may be a good sign of a child’s healthy appetite; in reality, that is a habit that might only lead to the kid’s malnourishment. Since the child is already more milk than what his tummy would have contained for nourishment, it no longer has the space for other sources of food which contains nutrition that’s not found in the formulated milk.
The Big Transition
It may sound so natural and straightforward, but having to wean a child from his milk bottle requires a process where the parent’s participation plays a key role in. If the idea of weaning was not introduced to the child early enough, it would not be surprising to see a kid still drinking from his bottle years later. As a parent, you would not want that for your child given the harms that milk bottles pose for your child’s normal development.
Having to wean your child from his bottle, however, need not be an abrupt process either. That will not produce a very positive effect on the child emotionally and, as a parent, you won’t want to see your baby struggle. Instead, as early as the 6th month of age, occasionally introduced your baby another source of his milk apart from a bottle. A sippy cup plays a critical element in this process.
Now that your baby has been acquainted with cups for his milk, gradually increase his exposure to cups or snacks for food. This is to slowly detach the baby from his milk bottles unaware.
But when the child’s attachment to his milk bottle is too strong and you’re seeing signs of withdrawal for not drinking from them, you can always cushion the transition by explaining to the child that his bottles must go. Ideally, this emotional support must be started a week before the bottles are to be removed from the child’s eating habits.
Do not underestimate a child’s level of perception early in his age, he would actually perceive more than we’d know. This is especially true with a mother whom the child has emotional attachments with.
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