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Weaning from Breast to Cup

When should I start weaning?

Weaning your baby from breast-feeding to drinking from a cup depends on your baby's need to suck and his ability to drink from a cup. A baby is usually ready to be weaned to a cup between 9 and 18 months. If your baby is less than 9 months old, you should wean him to a bottle first. When your baby is 6 months old, you can start giving a cup, but wait to completely wean your baby until he is about 9 months old.

What kind of milk should I use?

You can use breast milk or infant formula in the cup until your baby is 1 year old. If your baby is over 1 year old you can use regular whole milk.

If you use formula:

  • Watch carefully how your baby tolerates the formula. Look for rashes, spitting up, or bowel problems. If you baby starts having any of these symptoms, talk with your healthcare provider about which formula might be best for your baby.

How do I wean my baby?

  • Plan ahead. Choose a time when your baby is alert and a little hungry. This helps him want to learn a new way to feed. On the other hand, don’t introduce a cup when your baby is very hungry. An upset, very hungry baby will be in no mood to try something new.
  • Take your time: Give yourself and your baby plenty of time to give up breast-feeding. Slow weaning gives your baby time to adjust. It also allows your milk supply to lessen slowly and helps prevent swollen and painful (engorged) breasts.
  • Give your baby time to get used to the idea of a cup. After the age of 6 months, you can sometimes give your baby breast milk, formula, or juice in a cup just to show that drinks can come in another container. You might start with a sippy cup with 2 handles and a lid with a spout. This is easier for your baby to hold, and it helps prevent spills.
  • Start small and slowly increase the amount of milk. When you are ready to fully wean your baby, start by giving your baby a cup with 1/2 ounce (oz) of milk or formula at every meal. After the meal, nurse your baby. Don’t use juice to replace milk at feedings. Your baby will slowly take more and more milk from the cup. Once you start weaning, make sure you give a cup at every meal.
  • Eliminate 1 breast-feeding at a time. When your baby is taking at least 4 oz of milk from the cup at each meal, you can stop a breast-feeding session. Stop the least preferred breast-feeding session first. After you have replaced 1 nursing session with a cup, wait 5 to 7 days. Then, if your baby is doing well, replace a second nursing session with a cup. Do this until giving a cup has replaced all nursing sessions. The early morning and late evening nursing sessions are usually the hardest for your baby to give up. These should be the last breast-feedings you stop.
  • If your child uses a sippy cup, use it only at the table or while your child is in the high chair. Don’t let your child walk around with a sippy cup. Your child may link the sippy cup with security and comfort. Also, using a sippy cup too much may cause tooth decay or an overbite of the upper teeth. Wean your baby to an open-rimmed cup as soon as you can.

Your baby is weaned when he takes 16 to 20 oz of milk by cup each day and has solid food for 3 meals a day.

What if my breasts get engorged?

If your breasts get engorged because you are not nursing as much, let your baby suck 15 to 30 seconds from each breast to relieve your discomfort. Make sure that you don't nurse any longer, however, or you will trigger your breasts to make more milk and the engorgement will get worse.

What if I have problems with weaning?

Setbacks in weaning can be caused by many things, including stress, major changes in meal or bed times, or illness. If you have a setback, it’s OK to wait until things calm down, and then continue weaning your baby. Call your baby's healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-02-10
Last reviewed: 2013-12-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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