Ask the Moms – Milk Transition

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Categories Ask the Moms, Breastfeeding, Feeding, Formula, Infants, Toddlers

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It’s Wednesday, time for Ask the Moms, and I’ve decided to turn it around and ask all of you for advice!  Today’s topic: transitioning from bottles and formula to sippy cups and milk.

Yes, it’s a self-serving one on my part, but one that I know lots of people can relate to.  We’ve hit the magical one-year mark, and I cannot tell you how glad I am to have purchased my very last pallet of formula at the warehouse store.  Milk may have become expensive recently, but it’s nothing compared to the cost of formula.

Here’s what I’ve done so far, please chime in with your favorite tips and tricks for transitioning to milk!

First, my kids started toying with sippy cups around 6 or 7 months, but it was very sporadic.  They started being able to drink water from it with real regularity probably around 10-11 months.  Now, it’s no problem.  They’ll drink water or even some diluted apple juice from any variety of models, though our favorite is probably the Take & Toss ones.  Heck, my daughter even figured out a straw yesterday.  But if I give them a cup of milk?  A sip or two, maybe, but they still want their bottles of formula.

So, I changed my focus to getting them to drink milk, whatever the vessel.  Today’s mix in the bottle is half-formula, half-milk, and it was no problem.  I’m guessing we should be to 100% milk by the end of the weekend.  My son would probably tolerate a more abrupt change than that, but my daughter is wary of new tastes, so we’re taking it a day or two at a time.

Now, any suggestions for the final step of getting the milk into the sippy?  My kids still seem to really want those bottles 3-4 times a day to satisfy a particular type of hunger-thirst.  But handing them their cups at the normal bottle time turns into a revolt.  Hand them a cup of apple juice at snack time, and they practically chug it and slam the cup upside-down like a frat boy.  But a sippy cup of formula when they want a bottle?  How dare I?

Dear readers, what worked for you when waving bye-bye to bottles?  Or for the exclusively-breastfeeding bunch, were there any difficulties for you when going from breast to cups?  I know that true weaning is a different topic entirely (which was discussed recently by both Krissy and Rebecca), but what about the sippy-cup aspect?

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13 thoughts on “Ask the Moms – Milk Transition”

  1. i have no tips or advice, but am anxiously awaiting to hear what everyone else has to say since we are nearing this transition much quicker than i would like!

  2. We made the transition from bottles to sippy cups cold turkey! I was really worried about it (and the protests) but with the bottles completely out of sight, they forgot about them. For us, the key was to offer milk only at meals and snacks. In between meals, they only got water.

    The first day, I remember they only drank 3-4 oz total. The second day they drank more and on and on. Our ped said kids that age need only 1tsp per hour (10 ml) for hydration. We did it on a weekend so we had two people to distract babies all weekend during the old bottle times.

    The following weekend, we dropped the bedtime bottle. We fed them normal dinner, then right before we went upstairs to do bath, we held them in our laps and fed them with a sippy (kind of like a bottle). We gave them baths, and had sippies of water ready in case they wanted a snuggle and a pseudo-bottle. Nope they didn’t want it and bottles were gone.

    In the months leading up to that, Alex would always refuse more than 1-2 sips from a cup if he knew a bottle was coming. With no bottle coming, he made up the difference by drinking more from the cup.

  3. Forget “normal bottle time”. Your kids should just eat three meals a day with you and have a snack or two (one in the morning, maybe an afternoon one too). When it’s meal time, give them their food and milk in a sippy of your choice. Same for snack time. If they are thirsty give them water in a sippy. Get the bottles out of your house. Kids that age won’t do a protest. If they are thirsty, they will drink, if they are hungry they will eat.

    We breatsfed only but when I weaned them at one year, we just replaced that with a meal in the high chair. They never looked back.

    Good luck!

  4. Our transition was hardly a transition at all. My daughters’ daycare teacher and I told them that now that they were big girls, they were going to start using sippy cups at school when they were 11 months old, still on formula. At about 13 months old, I just stopped offering bottles at home. At 14 months (12 months corrected age) I switched out their formula for whole milk one evening, and we’ve never looked back.

  5. Laura’s comment reminds me of something … my girls actually drank more milk than formula, right out the gate. I noticed the same thing when we switched from high-calorie formula to regular formula. It seemed like they knew precisely how many calories they needed and drank enough to be satisfied.

  6. We were BFers, and when we started the weaning process at 11 months, we just started introducing the whole milk in a sippy…never really offered a bottle with milk. Worked out a-ok!

    Sadia brings up an interesting point…I’d be curious to know if they actually drank more whole milk than breast milk at the end…they CHUGGED (particularly He-child) the whole milk. Never really even thought/anticipated that the transition to sippy might be “problematic”…suppose ignorance was bliss, eh? 😉

  7. Hi… we dreaded the transition but our pediatrician really pushed for it right after my boys turned 1. He said not to stress about milk intake at first and that they could get plenty of calcium from cheese/yogurt, etc until they got used to the sippy cups. So, we just went cold turkey. First couple of days, they barely drank anything but then they slowly increased their milk intake to a more “normal” level (it made sense for it to drop off some since they were also eating more solids by this point). Don’t stress about getting enough liquids – give them high liquid fruits and veggies (watermellon, grapes, broccoli, asparagus, etc.).

    Good luck – I can say the idea of the experience was much worse than the actual transition.

  8. When we transitioned to milk in a sippy at a year, my boys did it without a fight. That isn’t to say we didn’t lay a lot of groundwork. We started playing with sippy cups and water around six or seven months, so they knew how to work them. When it came time to move to whole milk, we bought special “milk sippies” and used those at meal times, with their other sippy with water or juice for the rest of the day. Like others said, you can supplement their need for calcium and other milk nutrients at the beginning (when your children aren’t really into drinking the milk yet) with yogurt or cheese. All in all, my kids were excited to be “big boys” and drink from their “big boy cups,” so they made the move easy on us.

  9. I would give them sippies of water with each meal starting around 7-8 months. They were never very good at the tip sippies, but around 10 months I discovered they could use a straw and got straw sippies. I also started putting cold formula in the sippy and giving it to them with each meal, along with slowly dropping bottles.

    At 12 months they were down to 2 bottles, I dropped the morning one right at 12 months on the dot, so they were just getting their nighttime bottle at 12 months. And I switched cold turkey to milk in the sippies versus formula (formula still in that one bottle). About 2 weeks later we dropped that night bottle and the last milk of the day started being served with dinner.

    It was pretty painless. And mine love milk, they drink milk better than they did formula.

  10. We too transitioned from BFing to milk in sippies at 12 months. We dropped one feeding at a time—might be a slower way to transition. With BFing, this is partially for mommy’s benefit but I think the kids did well with it too. We didn’t try to offer milk at our traditional BFing times, except first thing in the morning. At this point, they chug a sippy or two of milk. This was also the hardest BFing session to stop, so the last one we stopped for Danny, the second to last for Abigail. Otherwise, we offer sippies with milk at meals and when they wake up from nap. We did buy new sippies that they hadn’t used for water to use at first—now we have switched to other ones that don’t leak like the Take ‘n Toss do—milk all over my floor is super annoying. It was a painless transition. For my guys, they ramped up their milk consumption after the first couple of weeks. If you’re worried they’re not getting enough milk in at first, up the cheese and yogurt for a bit. My pedi said 16-20oz a day—I’m sure yours said something similar?

  11. I also made the transition with both of my children to sippy cups cold turkey when they were about 12 months of age. The first day was hard, but after that they seemed to forget all about their bottles.
    Good luck!

  12. I am expecting twins…I’m at about 27 1/2 weeks. So, I don’t have them yet…but I do have a 15 month old…whom I breastfed until I was 15 weeks pregnant…
    My daughter never gave me a moments trouble when switching her to milk…but she will only drink her milk out of one cup…the Nuk…I think it’s called the Learner cup or something like that. If I put her milk in any other cup…she just spits it out. She drinks out of any other kind of sippy cup I give her…if it’s water…but when it comes to her milk…she is super picky.
    I’m not sure if this has to do with the fact that she would never take a bottle…and only breastfed or if she’s just picky…but I talked to another woman who said the same thing about her son…he also never took a bottle and will only drink his milk out of a Nuk.
    I’ve tried to get her off of this cup…after learning that it isn’t BPA free…but alas…so far nothing works.

  13. Twin boys turned 1 December 06. We threw out the bottles, used up the formula, swithched to milk, and drove on like any normal day. Twin girls turned 1 July 08, and we are going through exactly what you describe in your post. The will literally throw tantrums and fits if we try to give them milk in a sippy cup. Give them milk in a bottle and all is well. Strange.

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