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How do I get my toddler to drink from a cup?
Q: My very smart 2-year-old grandson talks like a 4-year-old, sings songs, knows his letters and numbers and can dress himself. However, he still takes a bottle. My daughter is trying to break him of this habit, but he won't drink milk out of a cup.

Also, he always wants chocolate in his milk. She lets him cry because she thinks it's bad to always put it in his milk. I told her that it's better to put a spoon of Ovaltine® in it than let him cry. I think she's overreacting.
A: I understand your concerns, Linda. There is nothing so difficult as listening to a child cry for something, especially when it can be so easily obtained. However, I have to side with your daughter. I suspect that your grandson is quite aware that you are sympathetic to his cries and knows that if he keeps them up long enough your daughter will give in to quiet you both down.

While I mean no disrespect to your concerns, this is probably a situation where the smart child is manipulating the adults. He is intelligent enough to understand that this behavior will cause problems between you and your daughter. In fact, that may be part of the game.

I don't have a problem with adding chocolate to his milk occasionally, but let me suggest a compromise: he has to drink the chocolate milk from a cup only. If he really wants the chocolate, this should break the bottle habit. He can use a straw if he wants, and in fact may accept the cup more easily that way. I applaud your use of chocolate mix, which is full of vitamins and minerals, but be aware that too much chocolate can interfere with calcium absorption.

Finally, please let your daughter be the parent. This is her child and she has the right to make the decisions about his care and feeding. A 2-year-old who continues to use a bottle risks becoming anemic and having dental problems. Furthermore, if he wins this battle, I guarantee he will use this technique to manipulate other eating issues. Support your daughter and there will be peace at the table.

Susan M. Leisner RD, IBCLC, RLC Nutritionist & Lactation Consultant