The Nanny Godmother was delighted to hear again recently from reader Michelle, who writes:
Hi Nanny Godmother,
It’s me again. I have another question. My son is 3 years old and still has a nighttime bottle when he gets into bed. I’ve tried weaning him off it by reducing the amount by 10ml every night but when we get about halfway (125ml) he starts asking for water when the milk is finished and carries on until I give him a little water (10ml). How do I wean him off the nighttime bottle? Or am I being too hasty?
Another question, going to bed is simple, he gets in and stays in and falls asleep, but most nights he still wakes up anything from once a night to countless times, and each time he wants some milk. I think the once or twice a night is purely out of habit. Generally when he wakes up more, something is bugging him. How do I get him to stop the nighttime wakings? The only time I have a good night’s sleep is when he is with his granny. I feel like I’m undergoing sleep deprivation torture. Please help.
Hi Michelle, welcome back!
It really does sound like he’s gotten into a bad habit. I don’t think you’re being hasty at all. It’s not advisable for children, certainly of this age, to go to bed with a bottle. It’s bad for their teeth and can even contribute to ear infections, among other problems.
To start with, let’s work on the bedtime bottle. Try to make sure your son has a drink before he goes to bed so you are sure he is not thirsty. I suspect he likes the comfort of the bottle, so what you could try doing is give him a sippy cup with just water in it. If he still makes a fuss about the milk, give a mixture of equal parts milk and water, gradually add more water than milk until he is just drinking water. I cover the dilution strategy and a couple of other ideas here.
You say that if your little boy wakes, something is bugging him; if it is something that occurs often then try to remove or avoid that happening if you can identify what it is. Rather trying to wean him off the milk he asks for when he wakes in the middle of the night, I would suggest that you simply put your foot down and say no. You could try the water in the sippy cup, and simply just go in and tell him he can’t have any more milk until the morning but that he can have water. Keep the same sippy cup next to his bed, so he can help himself. This will minimize fuss and disruption for both of you in the night.
I know this sounds like a pain at 4 o’clock in the morning, but I’m confident that once he learns that there is no benefit to asking for milk each time he wakes up, the habit will lessen.
Does he sleep through the night when he goes to granny’s house?
I wish you luck, Michelle, and sleep tight.
When your child has reached the point where he or she no longer needs a bottle but is still attached to it as a comfort item (particularly at bedtime), you may be in for a struggle, as reader Kayley B. has found out. She writes:
Hi, my 3 year old daughter still wants a bottle in bed and gets up in the night for another one, she won’t sleep without one and when I tell her she is not having another in the night she screams until she gets another. Please, anything I can do?
There are a couple of techniques you could try. First, you could dilute the milk with water. Start on the first night adding a little bit of water, then over time add more and more water. You could also give it to to her cold if you normally give it warm. As a last resort, you could try soya milk.
Take your daughter shopping to choose her own sippy cup and maybe put that in the corner of her bed or somewhere she can reach it, just in case she wakes up thirsty. Let me know how it goes for the two of you!