How to Get a Toddler to Stop Drinking Milk in Middle of the Night
If you're sleep-deprived and stressed because your toddler is still waking in the middle of the night for a bottle, there's hope for the future. Drinking milk in the middle of the night is not only bad for your sleep, but it's bad for your little one's teeth, too. The sooner you end the middle-of-the-night feedings, the better it is for both of you. Speak to your toddler's pediatrician if you have concerns about your child’s hunger, growth or overall sleep habits.
Feed your toddler as close to bedtime as possible to ensure she's not waking in the middle of the night due to hunger. Brush her teeth before bed.
Wait about 30 minutes after giving her a snack or bottle before putting her to bed to allow her to digest and make sure she's not relying on the bottle to feel drowsy. This can make it difficult for her to settle during night wakings without a bottle.
Introduce a comforting bedtime routine to relax your toddler before sleep, and remove any source of noise, light or discomfort that may be waking her during the night or preventing her from going back to sleep on her own.
Reduce the amount of milk you offer to your toddler in her middle-of-the-night bottle. Cut out an ounce every night or two until there's no milk left. This works for some toddlers who've become accustomed to the caloric intake in the middle of the night.
Dilute the milk in your toddler's bottle with water if reducing the amount of overall liquid hasn't worked. Start by mixing three parts milk to one part water, then increase the amount of water every few days. Your toddler may lose interest if she's being given only water to drink. Plus, more water in the bottle reduces the negative effect on her teeth.
Replace the bottle with a sippy cup of water if you believe your toddler is waking due to thirst or for a comfort feeding. Make sure the cup is spill-proof and contains only a couple of ounces of water, and set it at the corner of her bed or crib. Expect your little one to complain the first few times.
Be patient. If your toddler has been drinking milk during the night for a year or two, she's likely going to need some time to transition to sleeping through without a snack. If you allow yourself to become upset, your child can sense it and the tension makes sleep more difficult for everyone involved. If there's no progress after several weeks, consult your pediatrician for advice.
Be aware that your toddler may need to take in more calories during the day once she gives up her nighttime bottle.
Make sure all adults in your home are on the same page when it comes to night feedings. If your spouse gives in and offers a bottle during the night, you may need to start the process over from the beginning.