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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bottle weaning

We have (what feels like) a very serious dilemma we're facing right now and I need help!

We're trying to wean Benjamin from the bottle and nothing seems to be working. He only takes a bottle before his nap and before bedtime. Part of the problem is that his bottle has a three-fold purpose: 1) drinking milk, 2) sucking on it after the milk is gone, like he would a pacifier (except that he has never taken a pacifier), and 3) using it as a teether.

He uses a sippy cup during meal times and throughout the day just fine, which is mainly filled with water. So, our first attempt at bottle-weaning was to feed him milk out of his sippy cup, when it came time for nap and bed time. He hated it. Screamed. Threw it on the floor. We were firm at first and would just put him down without any milk for the first couple of naps (we didn't dare try it at bed-time until we (and he) felt comfortable with the change). But, after a couple of days of just miserable nap-times, we caved and went back to the bottle.

Our next attempt was to gradually water down the milk in his bottle until he would just flat-out refuse the bottle on his own. That backfired. Turns out that Ben likes his bottle, even if it's filled with plain, pure water.

Then I went to the store and bought different types of sippy cups, thinking he might take milk from a different kind of sippy cup than what he usually uses during the day for meals. Approximately eight different sippy cup styles later and still no luck.

We're at a point now where his bottle nipples have been chewed so much that they're cracked and falling apart. Buying new nipples is not an option. This is the perfect opportunity to finally cut off the attachment to the bottle and throw out the nipples.

BUT, I don't know what to do! Is this something we should be patient about and let him decide when he's done with the bottle? Or do we need to just throw them out and not worry about whatever trauma results? Has anyone else had a child so attached to the bottle like this? What did you do to wean your child from it? Does anybody have any genius ideas that worked?


Erica said...

I suppose in some ways I'm a pansy - my 3yo daughter is still using a pacifier. But as far as bottles go, I take them away as soon as my kids hit the 1 year mark. I say just take it away cold turkey. That's what we did with our son Noah 3 months ago. It took him a few days to decide that Sippy Cups were The New Awesome, but now he's all about them. Now.. to get Emily off the pacifier... lol!

Kelly said...

Hey Meggie!

I can offer you a little perspective that I have discovered the hard way.

When Hannah was 12 months I was adamant - no bottle, no pacifier. She actually made the transition very well. It solidified my position. Then I had Kenna. Stubborn does not even begin to describe her. It wasn't worth the fight, so I let her have her bottle longer. At about 18 months she started losing interest. I did what you did and slowly switched from milk to water. That pretty much worked for her. If Ben is being stubborn, I would suggest slowly lowering the amount of water that's in his bottle so that he's not relying on that drink to quench his thirst. If he's still stubborn, I would just WAIT until he's older. He'll either give it up himself eventually, or you'll be able to talk him through the challenge of giving it up. I don't think it's going to do any damage to his teeth to chew on a bottle nipple for a bit before bedtime. He's also still in teething stage and it might just be comforting to his little gums.

That's my two cents. In 20 years is 6 months more going to matter? I don't know!

By the way, I'm glad you had such a great week at our house. Next time you're out, we'll have to stay in town. ;-)

Mandi said...

Audrey had a hard time giving up the bottle. We had many false stops, going back to a bottle when we were desperate. I think she was probably around 18 months when we just got tough, explained to her that she was a big girl, got rid of the bottles (put them away where she couldn't see them) and showed her the new sippy cups. The first week or so was not fun, but since she never saw the bottles and the sippy was the only option, she gave in.

Oh, I also tried to make giving her the sippy cup the same as giving her the bottle - holding her the same, having the same cuddle time, and that seemed to help a bit too.

Mama B said...

I just did this for the 3rd time (once with our foster daughter and then with our two kids), and what has worked for me is to start weaning at 10 months. For what ever reason I have noticed with most kids that right after they turn one the attachment turns to super glue :) But to be honest every child is different so my observation and experience could be totally off. And you are beyond that now anyway.
I liked what Kelly said "in 20 years is 6 more months going to matter?"
Just try one way, if it doesn't work then give it a weeks rest and then try another way. Goodluck, these transistions are never fun for anyone.

Tamara ViAnn said...

My son is just a month younger than Ben and loves his bottle too. This is just me but your kids are still very young- I wouldn't push it and make it a battle. I've never seen a child take their bottle to kindergarten yet :). Especially since he's just using it for naps & bedtime I just wouldn't sweat it and if it brings some comfort to let it be.

My daughter was around 2 years old when she lost interest in her bottle all on her own. Easy peasy (and I know it would have been quite the fight if I had tried earlier). So my advice is to not to worry about it and wait it out for a bit. I promise he'll ditch it when he's ready!

Rachel Doyle said...

Its hard to wean from the bottle - especially when little brother still gets one. My girls are nine months apart and it was a nightmare. I had everyone telling me how I should yank it at a year - but then I had an aunt tell me to stop listening to so called experts and let my babies be babies -- its the only time in this whole universe that we get to be babies. Brynn finally gave it up about the two year mark and Hannah about 2.5. My son gave it up at 14 months. I just let them choose. I told my dentist and he checked their teeth and said it was ok. I liked the comment above -- they won't go to kindergarten with it -- and if they do the first day -- they won't the second day. Good luck.

Juwmama said...

I would like to agree with the comment that your babies are babies! It's so easy to push our kids into the next stage (especially the oldest . . . I'm still doing that with my oldest and he's 11!!). And I would agree with Kelly, too, that it's not going to matter in the long run if he gets rid of it now vs. later. And I will agree with the lady who said to "stop listening to the experts." You are Ben's mother with the inspiration of what he needs. If you feel he should be done, do what you need to make it happen. If you feel he needs to hang on to it a bit longer, do that. From my experience, "listening to the experts" has always backfired on me. :-)

For future notice: take the whole "Wait until he's ready" advice for potty training, too! :-)

Good luck, Meg!

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Inkling said...

Hey there. I feel your pain. We still do the bottle around here (at 31 months) because it's more important to get the high calories into our little guy, and with his eating and digestive issues, I'm going easy on myself with the bottle weaning and potty training milestones. It's hard when I see mamas around me weaning their kiddos and potty training them way earlier, but this is just what works for us and our pediatrician and OT are even on board.

The mantra I repeat is: "He'll be potty trained, sleeping on his own, and bottle-free by college." Obviously, it'll happen way earlier (it better!), but it's just a fun reminder that he's still little and we've got time.

(Thankfully, the sleeping on his own part is starting to happen - we've had him in his own bed for naps and bedtime for a week. Now he just needs to figure out how to put himself down without us having to stay there until he falls asleep. Again, that all happened thanks to a bad case of GERD when he was tiny and we just could not let him cry it out because of what it did to him physically.)

Follow your heart on this one. You are an awesome mama. Don't worry about what the rest of us think. =)

ckkg said...

Oh, how I feel your pain! Our oldest was stuck on the binky and our middle child was the bottle. I am finally learning one of the most important things for me personally as a mother -- kids will do things when they are ready. Every battle I have tried to fight, when given a little bit of time, has turned out to not be much of a battle at all. We tried getting our middle one off the bottle before our 3rd baby arrived because I didn't want two kids on bottles. Must have tried it half a dozen different times and it was miserable for everyone involved. So, the baby came and a few months after everyone was used to the transition, we tried the sippy cup again and she took it and never looked back at those bottles. It was soooo easy because she was finally ready. She was about 2. Same thing when we took the binkies away from our oldest. We kept trying and finally when she was ready, it was literally a non-issue. I'm not saying the kids should be in control, but I just think if you don't FORCE some of those kinds of things, the kids really will transition when they feel more ready and comfortable. I was beside myself with the bottle thing and talked to our pediatrician about it and he basically said it's not hurting them developmentally so not to worry too much about it. It was hard for me to accept because I so wanted her off that bottle, but in the end and looking back on it, I should have just relaxed. It all worked out when she was ready! Same thing with potty training, same thing with binky, same thing with all of the big things in their lives. They really do it when they are ready! I'm certainly no expert, but that has just been my experience!

You are doing such a great job with your adorable boys!

ckkg said...

Oh and I should mention, we didn't even have to do any weaning with the bottle. No changing what we put in it, no trying different kinds of sippy cups, etc. We just gave it some time and then one weekend asked her if she wanted to have a sippy cup like her sister and she said yes and never took a bottle again!

Greek Goddess said...

Both my boys have used bottles. I weaned one at 21 months and one just a couple of weeks ago at 16 months. I tried a little bit of weaning gradually and found it too difficult. I ended up just going cold turkey with both of them. My problem is that my son won't drink milk out of a sippy cup. Gets mad and throws it away. So, he's not getting his milk now. I'm not sure what to do about it yet, but the reason I ended up decided to wean him from the bottle now as opposed to in a few months is the pediatrician mentioned (and I read this, too) that it can encourage more ear infections if they're sucking on their backs. I have no idea if it is true, but it just gave me the push to do it.
Naptime was worse than bedtime for a few days, but it didn't last more than a few days.
Good luck, I'm sure you'll figure out what is best for your little guy!