My friend Erin’s baby is about to turn one, and since that means weaning, Erin asked me what sorts of things we tried when it came to weaning Colton. I was super nervous, and a little sad and reluctant, the start weaning Colton from his bottles, so I totally understand Erin feeling the need to hear what others have done.

We started weaning the day after his 12 month check-up. At that time, Colton was getting four bottles a day, plus three “meals,” one of which was entirely baby food. Our pediatrician recommended taking away two of the bottles and replacing them with snacks and milk in a sippy cup. She said some people will go completely cold turkey (for us, that would be dropping all 4 bottles on the same day) or put whole milk in a bottle and give them that, rather than formula, but she said that often made giving up bottles even harder. Since Colton is a bit stubborn and weaning scared me, I decided to drop his middle two bottles of formula and replace them with whole milk in a cup; Colton has only ever had whole milk in a cup, because I didn’t want to wean from formula onto milk, then wean again onto a cup from bottles.

At the time, Colton was an okay cup drinker, but wasn’t really very interested in drinking milk, so his intake was very, very small. In fact, even now when his milk-intake is the highest it’s ever been, he drinks less than a half-gallon in a week. I thought this meant he really needed to keep at least some bottles to get the nutrition he needed, but found out that as long as he was getting some milk and dairy from other sources (yogurt, cheddar and cottage cheeses are favorites), he would still get the nutrients he needed.

So, we replaced those two middle of the day bottles with snacks, and the first two days were pretty rough. And by rough, I mean all-out crying, screaming, barely eating during the new snack time. But, we stuck with it, and within two days he was happily eating his snacks. We stuck with this for a month, and when Colton turned 13 months, we tackled the morning bottle. Instead of giving him a bottle, I got him out of bed, took him directly to his chair and fed him yogurt and offered milk. This was even worse than the first two bottles, and I almost gave in. I’m glad I stuck with it though, because the next day he ate his breakfast without complaint.

A friend of mine mentioned it was harder for her son to drop his morning bottle than his before bed bottle, but Colton was having trouble sleeping still, and we really didn’t want to do anything to mess with his nighttime routine until his sleeping and waking habits were well-established. We decided that when we took away his nighttime bottle we would replace it with a small snack (cheese – the snack of snacks!), and some milk. This was mostly because Colton still wasn’t drinking a lot of milk, and it seemed like a full tummy would help him sleep better and longer. The first day we tried this, it seemed to be a roaring success. He ate his cheese without crying or even whining, and went to bed without a peep. Until 11:30, when he started screaming bloody murder and could not be consoled until we gave him a bottle. So, we went back to the bottle. Mostly that decision was born out of the fact that Hubby had several almost back-to-back work trips coming up, followed by our camping trip. Since life was going to be so crazy, we decided to wait until we were back into our more normal routine to work on weaning this bottle.

When we got home and started with weaning again, we still gave Colton cheese and milk, but followed it with a bottle, which we gradually decreased the amount of. This took about a week and half, but did the trick. Also, the first couple of times after we completely dropped the bottle, we let Colton sit on the sofa with us and his cup of milk. Since this was where he typically had his bottles, we thought having five or so minutes to just chill with us and sip milk if he wanted would help ease the transition. Honestly, he didn’t seem to miss that time in the least, so I have no idea if it actually helped him or not.

As for what Colton was eating – he didn’t make the jump to all-table food until he was 13 months. I’m not sure I can remember what exactly he was eating when we started weaning, but I know yogurt, apple sauce, peach cups (softer than fresh, and always in season), yogurt melts, and Earth’s Best cereal bars (softer than Gerber’s), were high on the list. Graham crackers were also good, since they became mushy just like teething biscuits, but are tastier.

These days, Colton eats yogurt, some waffle and milk for breakfast when he first wakes up at about 6:30, and then a snack around 9, which is usually cottage cheese if we’re home or graham crackers and goldfish if we’re running. For lunch, he loves either peas and carrots (I buy the frozen kind that have the diced carrots in them) and ham, grilled cheese, pita pizza (pita bread, pizza sauce, mozzarella heated for 2 minutes in the broiler), pizza croissant, taco roll-up or blueberry muffin. After his nap, he gets another snack, usually something like peas and carrots or another vegetable (he eats corn, green beans, broccoli and cauliflower well) if he hasn’t had much, applesauce, peaches, or banana with Little Crunchies, Pirate Booty (like Little Crunchies, but cheese flavored and all-natural) or Yogurt Melts. For dinner at 5:30, we just serve whatever we’re having, unless he really can’t eat it (we don’t feed him burritos or enchiladas, but I think those are the only things we eat he doesn’t) or hates it and won’t eat it. Then, we just give him what we normally feed him for lunch. Around 6:30 or 6:45, we give Colton his cheese and milk so he’s ready for bed at 7 pm.

I think the biggest thing with weaning is just to do whatever works well for you and your family, and not to rush the process. If life is crazy and your family is out of their normal routine, take a few days and let things settle back down before making major changes. Especially, don’t be afraid to do things differently! We give Colton a snack before bed, but everyone else I asked just gave their child milk before bed. It may be different from the norm, but it works for us!