Wean kids off the bottle - and sippy cup
TODDLERS who continue to use bottles beyond 12 to 15 months of age tend to be overweight. But simply switching them to sippy cups may not prevent extra weight gain, a new study finds.
Doctors recommend introducing sippy cups at six months and weaning toddlers off bottles completely by the time they are 15 months old.
But 20 per cent of two-year-olds and 10 per cent of three-year-olds in the United States continue to use bottles, often drinking five bottles of whole milk every day, researchers said.
"Bottles can become a vessel for extra, or 'stealth', calories, because they are often used indiscriminately. For example, while in a stroller, or to put a child to bed," Dr Karen Bonuck told Reuters Health. She led the new study at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York.
"Before you know it, a child can take in 150 calories of whole milk in a bottle, on top of the regular diet," Dr Bonuck said.
The researchers wanted to see if giving parents educational materials and a sippy cup would reduce the number of bottles kids used and the calories they consumed.
They enrolled 300 pairs of parents and 12-month-olds, who were then split into two groups: a bottle-weaning group that received the materials and sippy cup and a comparison group that did not.
After three months, bottle usage had dropped from 4.6 bottles per day to two bottles per day among kids in the bottle-weaning programme. There was a smaller drop in the comparison group, from 4.4 bottles per day to 2.7, on average.
Sippy-cup usage increased more in the bottle-weaning group.
Kids in the bottle-weaning programme consumed slightly fewer calories - 1,090 calories per day, on average, versus 1,186 among comparison children.
The programme did not lower toddlers' chances of being overweight, according to results published in The Journal Of Pediatrics.
"At first we were surprised that there was no effect on overweight status," Dr Bonuck said, "but looking at the data more closely, this seems partially attributable to the substitution of sippy cups for bottles in the intervention group."
She said the advice to wean toddlers off bottles by 15 months should be extended to sippy cups.
"They seem to just substitute for bottles well into the second and third years of life. In addition, we need to develop guidelines for liquid intake - including the proper balance of liquid versus solids during the second year of life," she said.