Transition from Bottles of Formula to Cups of Milk

I drafted this post back on September 5 when Zachary was 13 months old but forgot to actually publish it until now….


Of all the transitions we have been through with Zachary, I was most concerned/confused/unsure (pick one!) about the transition from bottles of formula to cups of milk.  I think that’s because this has been the one main steady point in his short little life, and I just wasn’t sure how I was going to help guide him through this one.

I need not have worried though.  Like his other transitions (sleeping through the night, moving ahead 8 hours in timezones during overseas travel, learning to eat table foods, etc.), he handled this with resiliency and relative ease.

Here’s the play-by-play in case it helps someone else:

  • Introducing a cup: Starting at about 9 months, we put a sippy cup of water out on Zachary’s high chair at meal time.  He didn’t do much with it, but we wanted to make sure it wasn’t a foreign object.
  • Schedule alignment: By 10.5 months, Zachary was already aligned to a toddler eating schedule (including only 4 bottles a day), so that part was done.
  • Trying out a cup: A couple of weeks before turning 1 year, with the partnership of Zachary’s teachers, we switched his second bottle (around 11:15) to a cup.  It still had formula in it since he wasn’t 1 yet, but the thought was that since this bottle was already pretty small and already at lunch time, if he didn’t drink much from it, no harm/no foul.  Switching from cups of water to cups of formula made a pretty big difference because he seemed more motivated to drink from it. Also, he was able to watch one of his school “friends” who was a little older drink from his cup, and that helped a lot.
  • Introducing milk: With his pediatrician’s okay at his 12 month visit, we began mixing a little bit of whole milk into his now 3 bottles a day, gradually increasing the percentage of milk and decreasing the percentage of formula over a one week time span.  That one cup at 11:15 switched from formula to 100% milk, and we also began offering him a cup of milk at each meal.
  • Making the switch: By the second week of being 1, Zachary was fully weaned off formula and LOVING milk.  His bottles continued but they were all milk at this point.  Just a few days into this second week, he began drinking from cups so well and so reliably that we decided to make his afternoon bottle a cup instead of a bottle (it was already aligned to snack time, so just had to hand him a cup with snack).  After a couple days of that, we made the switch for his morning bottle, too – adding in a breakfast meal.  Then, just before turning 13 months old, we switched his one remaining bottle (just before bed) to a cup by giving it to him in the kitchen about 30 minutes before bed – he crawls around and plays and then stops in the kitchen every few minutes for a swig of it.

Zachary seems to enjoy drinking on his own, holding his cup sometimes with one hand in a cavalier “hey what’s the big deal” manner.  It is hilarious, as though he’s been drinking from cups forever.  He now asks for his cup by name – pointing and saying “cup.”  As of this writing, Zachary is 13 months old and drinks 12-18 oz or so a day of whole organic milk from sippy cups, served cold straight from the refrigerator.

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