Is your child still bottle feeding after 1 year of age? It’s time to transition him to a cup. This adjustment may be rough at first, but that’s nothing compared to the pain of baby bottle tooth decay, also known as early childhood tooth decay. Bottles filled with formula, milk, or juice expose your child for long periods of time to the sugars they contain. Extended bottle feeding also contributes to childhood obesity. Here are some tips to help wean the little one off of the bottle for good:
- Introduce the Sippy Cup Early. Choose a sippy cup with fun colors and two handles for easy gripping. By nine months of age, your baby should be a pro at grabbing and holding, so don’t hesitate to buy him his own special cup as early as six months of age.
- Reduce Bottle Contents. As your child gets a handle on the sippy cup, begin filling it with more liquid, at the same time reducing the amount you typically place in the bottle.
- Promote Water. Babies are less picky than older children. They enjoy drinking water, so keep encouraging this healthy habit into their toddler years. Juice, whether in a bottle or a cup, contains minimal nutrition and loads of sugar. Rather than diluting juice with water, why not pour pure H2O?
- Switch to a Big-Kid Cup. While sippy cups are great for preventing spills – they’re also a temporary solution. Parents tend to let their kids drink from a sippy cup for prolonged periods throughout the day as a source of comfort – this has a similar effect on the teeth as a bottle does. The solution? Switch to an open cup as soon as possible. Some parents skip the sippy cups altogether! Little ones tend to love drinking the way they see you drink—make a special trip to let him choose a cup that’s just right for him!
Did you know? Prolonged pacifier or thumb sucking can lead to dental issues. We recommend parents discourage these habits by the time their kids get permanent teeth. This usually isn’t an issue, though, as the permanent teeth come in at around age 6, when many kids have outgrown their pacifier.