icon-arrow-down icon icon-arrow-fill-down icon icon-arrow-next icon icon-arrow-prev icon icon-tag-close icon
How will I wean her when my daughter won’t drink from a sippy cup?
Q: I am currently breastfeeding my 7-month-old daughter and I want to stop in about two months, but I don't know what approach to take. She currently only nurses at night because she goes to day care during the day, but she won't drink from a bottle when I'm around. She won't even drink from a sippy cup. How will I wean her?
A: Roshondra, it’s great that you’ve given your baby all the health advantages of breastfeeding. It’s common for breastfed babies to prefer breastfeeding and initially resist taking a bottle or cup from their mum. But when the time comes, you will be able to successfully wean your baby.

There are two basic ways to wean your baby: let your baby take the lead when she decides to wean herself; or you take the lead when you decide it’s time to wean your baby.

It sounds like you’ve already decided that you want to wean her around 9 months of age, but she may also begin losing interest in the breast around that time as well. Between 7 and 10 months of age, many babies become more physically active and interested in the world around them, and become less interested in nursing quietly at the breast. You might find that your baby plays with your nipple without sucking, latches on for a minute and then turns her head away to look at other things, or tries to squirm around and even stand up while nursing. These can be signs that your baby is ready to wean.

If your baby continues to show interest in nursing, however, you need to decide how much you want to wean her or whether you can wait until she’s ready. If you decide to initiate weaning, here are some tips:

  • Wean your baby when everything else is going as smoothly as possible. Try to do it when your baby isn’t experiencing any other difficult changes such as an illness, a new child care provider, or moving.

  • Be sympathetic and maintain a positive attitude. Weaning is a step along the way for your baby growing up and becoming increasingly independent. Remember, too, that both you and your baby may experience some sadness with ending breastfeeding, so try to find other opportunities to preserve your physical closeness.

  • Try the technique, “Don’t offer, don’t refuse.” This means that you don’t initiate the night-time breastfeeding, but you’ll do it if your baby asks for it or seems to need it a lot. At your usual time for nursing, try to avoid holding her in the position and environment that you normally nurse her; and try to interest her in other things such as a bath, a book, a song, and a cuddle with a stuffed animal. If your baby’s father is involved, have him put her to sleep. She may gradually lose interest in nursing.

  • Consider whether to wean your baby from the breast to the bottle, cup, or just put her to sleep without drinking milk. By 9 months, your baby will be getting most of her nutrition from solid food and bottles during the day, so the night-time breastfeeding is providing mostly comfort and only a small proportion of her daily nutrition. You might try to wean your baby from the night-time breastfeeding to a bottle, which might require persistence to get her to take it from you. Be sure you don’t put her to bed with the bottle since this can lead to tooth decay and ear infections. On the other hand, if you want to wean her from the bottle to the cup soon, this might be a good chance to start trying the cup instead. Try giving her a good dinner of solid food with a cup of milk or juice. Although she might not take a sippy cup right now, keep working at it and she’ll be better at it several months from now.

  • Consider offering your baby another comfort object. If your baby seems to really need to suck at bedtime, consider a dummy. And if your baby seems to need to cuddle a little more, consider a blanket or a stuffed animal.
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician