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The normal recommendation is that parents begin to transition their babies out of the bottle when they are around 12-24 months of age. However, transitioning is not as easy for some babies, as it is for others. And because some parents prefer to not bother themselves, they may leave their babies in bottles even as they hit their third-year birthday.
No doubt, the choice is ultimately yours to make as a parent, but there are basic things you need to know if your 3 year old is still on bottle.
When Is A Child Too Old For A Bottle?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents transition their babies out of bottles between their first and second year birthdays. But as with many stages of a baby’s development, it is better to relate with your baby as an individual with unique needs. While conventional guidelines are not bad to follow, the best time to transition your baby out of the bottle is the time that works for them.
Of course, this is not supposed to be a melodious excuse to keep your baby on a bottle, because prolonged use of a bottle can, in fact, lead to tooth decay among other nutritional issues. The important thing is to know what your own baby needs!
Effects of Bottle Feeding For Too Long
Bottle feeding your baby may seem like a harmless adventure, and as a matter of fact, it should be. I mean, it helps your baby get its fair share of nutrition, so what are we talking about? The use of a bottle for your baby is not what is harmful, but the prolonged use of it.
Below are the effects;
1. Increased Risk Of Tooth Decay
When your baby uses their bottle all day, they have increased contact with milk or juice and this can result in the decay of the cavities and teeth. One of the surest routes to tooth decay is giving your baby a bedtime bottle without brushing their teeth, afterward. This can lead to the milk pooling, sitting, and eating at the teeth all night.
2. Increased Risk Of Obesity
The thing about bottles is, they can get babies and toddlers on an unhealthy drinking spree. Meanwhile, your toddler should not drink more than 16-24 ounces of milk daily.
A bottle can also grow to become a comfort object. As a parent, you may fall into the habit of giving bottles to your baby whenever they start crying. What you may not know is, milk and food have the same calories. Hence, your baby’s prolonged exposure to milk in a bottle can lead to weight gain and obesity.
3. Iron Deficiency Anemia
Cow milk can impede the body’s iron absorption. Hence, if your baby uses bottle extensively, they may get too much milk, and their body may fail to make use of the iron for growth and development.
4. Can Tamper With Your Baby’s Smile
Bottle-fed babies are very much likely to have crooked teeth. This is because the manner in which babies suck on bottles can interfere with the development of their muscles, mouth, and palate. This can disfigure the teeth and jaw.
5 Things To Do If Your 3 Year Old Is Still On Bottle
If your 3 year old is still on bottle, here are 5 things you can do;
1. Choose a right time
A 3 year old still on bottle is not the best development, and transitioning them out of it should top your to-do list, as a parent. To make the transition successful, the right timing is important. It is not smart to transition your child in the middle of big family events like relocation, the birth of a sibling, or a big family vacation. This may lead them back to familiar objects.
2. Give them the independence to choose
Toddlers love their independence, and one of the ways you can get your 3 year old to give up the bottle is by getting them good sippy cups such as taking them to a store and letting them choose the kind of cups they want. Here are some of the This passes a message of confidence across to them and can help them put the bottle behind.
3. Use Sippy Cups With Hard Spout Or Straw
To get your 3 year old out of bottle use, Dentists recommend sippy cups with a hard spout or straw in place of those with soft spouts. Subscribing to a sippy cup with a hard spout or straw will not only help your child’s oral health, it will also make the transition less challenging. Here are sippy cups with straws you can check out on Amazon – Tommee Tippee Insulated Straw Cup for Toddlers and Kid Basix Safe Sippy.
4. Get A Comfort Replacement
For some babies, bottles are comfort measures. A comfort measure is any object your baby resorts to when they are uncomfortable. If this sounds like your baby’s relationship to her bottles, you may want to get a new comfort replacement such as a blanket, doll, or stuffed animal. You can also talk to them to find out if they are actually hungry, or if something else is the issue.
Give them hugs and cuddles when they are upset.
5. Dilute Milk In The Bottle
If your 3 year old won’t give up their bottle, it may be time to start diluting their milk with half water. Then, increase the quantity of water as the days roll over until the milk becomes water. With this, chances are that your baby will lose interest in the bottle, and go for the sippy cup with the delicious dairy in it.
While bottles are a must-have item in every baby’s gear, their use has an ideal timeframe. Although medical experts suggest that babies should not be on bottle beyond their second birthday, some babies, for one reason or another, do not find transitioning as easy as others do.
This may be easily understandable until your little one turns 3, and still doesn’t want to give up their bottle. What can you do? A lot! By making the transition at the right time, giving your baby the independence to choose, using sippy cups, and even offering them words of affirmation, you can get your 3 year old bid their bottles goodbye.