Helping Baby to Give Up the Bottle in the Crib
Most people now know that it is not a good idea for a baby to be put to bed with a bottle. It can cause a variety of problems for the baby. If juice or milk is left in a baby's mouth for too long, it can cause tooth decay. Ear infections can also develop from giving a baby a bottle while he or she is lying down.
So, How Do You Break That Habit?
So, what do you do to help a baby give up the bottle at bedtime? It can be a hard task. It will require patience and dedication from the parents and caregivers. It will take time. Some babies have a harder time than others letting go of the bedtime bottle. Here are some tips to help wean the baby off of having a bottle in the crib at bedtime or nap time.
Many babies will not go to sleep without a bottle. Remember to always hold the baby while you are feeding him or her. Try to avoid propping up a bottle while the infant is placed in an infant seat or bouncer. This is unsafe and should never be done. Hold the baby during feedings. They love the contact and the attention, and will make that bedtime bottle in the crib much less desirable.
Feed the baby on his or her own schedule. Let the baby tell you when he or she is hungry. Make sure that his or her needs are being met. This helps the infant form a trusting bond with you. He or she will know that she is loved and cared for, therefore, needing that comfort of a bedtime bottle a little less.
Try feeding the baby his or her bottle until they fall asleep in your arms. After they have fallen asleep, gently lay them into bed, soothing them with a soft lullaby if they start to stir. Now, this may not always work. Some babies do not fall right to sleep after a meal. If they fail to fall asleep during the meal, try a pacifier, a gentle lullaby, and comforting touches to soothe them to sleep. I know, some parents are reluctant to use pacifiers with their children, and I understand the concern. I am just providing options and alternatives. What works for some, may not work for all, and what is acceptable to some, may not be to others.
Remember, this will not be an overnight success. Don't force the baby to adjust too quickly to bedtime without a bottle. Give the baby plenty of time to adjust. Use water in the bottles instead of milk, formula or juice at bed and nap times, to minimize the damage done to their teeth. Of course, do not use water as a replacement for the nourishment that they need from milk or juice. Use it only after a feeding, if the baby is still having trouble falling asleep without the comfort of the bottle.
With time and patience, the baby will need that bottle less and less at bedtimes and nap times. And remember, there are many battles ahead...weaning off bottles all together, teaching a baby to feed themselves, and the dreaded potty training. With all of these, remember to be patient.
© 2008 Anna Marie Bowman