Breaking Her Milk Habit Before Her 3rd Birthday

At around 6 months of age a baby has the ability to sleep a full night of sleep. P1 was 10 months when she began to sleep an amazing 12 hour stretch. P2 is yet to reach that milestone and P3 exactly the same. They both have habits that need breaking. 

A preschooler needs 11 hours of sleep plus a 45 minute nap. P2 dropped her nap just before she turned two and wakes on a good night every two hours for a full bottle of milk. Just like a newborn. P3 surprisingly sleeps better than her sister, on an average night she wakes twice from when she goes to bed until morning so right this second her habits aren’t my top priority.

We were advised to get rid of the bottle at a year, then again at two years and there’s no way that in just over two weeks time I am going to have her still drinking milk throughout the day and night at three years old. She’s no longer a toddler and is about to embark on her preschooler years.

Today is day 5. I’m still standing and she’s still standing. We stopped allowing her to have the bottle (when I say bottle it’s a hard spouted thing not a baby bottle with soft teat) during the day for the first day. I offered milk in a cup or for her to have water or a juice drink. Of course we had a rather long tantrum before she decided to have a juice drink. It went well for the first day as we weren’t heading out anywhere where she’d feel tired and want to snuggle on the sofa for a while with a bottle.

The new rules of bedtime are that she has one bottle but once it’s gone it’s gone. Thankfully up until last night this didn’t cause any troubles. She sent herself to sleep like usual with her milk. The first night she woke twice, demanded milk but was given her bottle with water. We had tears but I calmed her before leaving her to settle herself to sleep. The second night she woke just once. The third was once again.

Last nights bedtime was much harder. For some reason she finished her bottle much sooner than normal and it resulted in a rather long, exhausting and noisy crying session. I do nearly caved and gave her some more milk but somehow I found the strength. She stopped crying after about 15 minutes, which I know sounds super long and I did go in to her once in that time.

I feel like we are getting somewhere. She rarely asks for milk in the day and will usually accept the fact she can have it in a cup or she has a different drink. It’s breaking the habits that is obviously the difficult thing, like having milk on car journeys or walking home from Gymboree. But I just have to stay strong. I have to keep remembering that hopefully this will benefit my sleep.

P2 is definitely hungrier in the day and we’ve stocked up on lots of healthier snacks like fruit, fromage frais and even some cocktail sausages as a treat. She’s eating better at meal times and I’m seeing positive changes to our night routines. She’s just so lazy and has to always call for me to come and give her Panda even though he’s right next to her.

What are your tips for getting your baby/toddler to sleep through?

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10 comments

  1. Mother Under Measure

    I’ve been unbelievably lucky with J and he’s slept through 12hrs from 5wks old, something which I’ve been called a liar for frequently!! I am defo not taking any credit for it though, I think he’s just like me and a bit lazy, lol! Hope you get there, you must be shattered! x

  2. Ahh, I feel for you! Good luck and hopefully it will be not long until the habit is well and truly kicked! I do remember breaking the milk habit, my daughter barely ate/slept…. it took a few weeks but got there in the end! xx

  3. wow every two hours! I don’t know how you do it. I have to say I am bit more brutal ha I remember Maisy at about a year had a dummy and would wake me to find her one if she lost it in the night – which is fine but it was getting more and more till on night I just said no – she soon got over it! xx

  4. I realise how lucky I am – all mine went through the night from 12 weeks old, and Pickle – who is 3, has a drink of milk in the morning, one at bedtime, and water all day. He just seems to go with what I do. Sorry! He is rebelling at bedtime now though – it’s become a bit of a to do getting him to bed! Good luck. Kaz x

  5. Wilf is four and still doesn’t sleep through so I fear I have no tips for you but good luck! You are amazing to be dealing with sleep deprivation from 3 kids x

  6. Glad to hear there is progress hun.
    My girls stopped drinking milk pretty quickly after a year old really. But they still have milk through cereal etc. We stopped the juice (very diluted) habit with my second daughter, she loved settling into bed with a bottle of juice but we finally nailed it a few months ago. x

  7. Glad to hear there has been progress. I’ve no advice to offer as N had milk until he weaned at 19 months and he just went cold turkey, Jude is 16 months now and no signs of stopping his milk but that’s fine. He doesn’t sleep through yet, he wakes at least once, but he’s still only little so I don’t mind x

  8. Im glad theres been progress.. definitely keep on going!! Alister alert through from 13 months and weaned off the boob at 14 months.. Violet slept through from 5 months and weaned off the boob at 25 months! I have no idea what sort of pattern they were in i just followed their lead tbh and just went with how they settled .. Alister was definitely the more hungrier baby though for sure and would feed much more at night compared to Violet.

  9. We found the milk habit the hardest to drop and even at 3 he was having a lot of milk though in a cup. My 9 Month old still doesn’t sleep but that’s ok for now, when I’m ready I’ll do a form of pick up put down I think.

  10. My eldest stopped taking milk after he turned a year old and hasn’t taken it since. I wish he would take it for the calcium as he doesnt eat much cereal either. My youngest is 16 months and we are trying to transition his milk into a beaker.. so far no such luck! No real tips for getting them to sleep other than to be persistent and stand your ground, even thought i know thats easier said than done x

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