Bye Bye Bottles
Baby bottles provide comfort and security. You spend time trying to find a good fit for your baby, all to be taken away 12 to 15 months later.
In typical Remi fashion, she had us trying numerous bottle types FINALLY to end our search with Dr. Browns. She never took a pacifier but would use the top of the bottle as a passie or binky. I knew it would be a process when we had to say bye to the bottles, as we would be eliminating BOTH the bottle and her "binky". A typical day consisted of a bottle when she woke, bottle for nap and one before bed. The time in between was filled with walking around the house with an empty bottle or holding one when in the car.
Apparently I missed the WARNING sign at her 12 month checkup when the doctor politely suggested we start eliminating bottles. I wish she would of said STOP USING THE BOTTLE IT WILL ONLY GET HARDER TO TAKE AWAY THE OLDER SHE GETS!! I must have been consumed with the not walking yet, crazing teething and no sleep to add bottles to the equation. At this point we were using sippy cups but only for water. Trying to "trick her" into drinking milk out of a sippy cup would end result in a cup being thrown off the highchair or at my head.
Fast forward to her 15 month checkup and the doctor was a bit more direct this time. I spent the next day on Amazon ordering about 10 different cups after reading every review known to man. I asked a few friends for suggestions and each had a different favorite. My counter tops were packed with Nubbys, Nuks, Munchkins and Ezpzs. Now that I think of it, sounds like some version of the seven dwarfs.
Like sleep training, I decided to tackle the bottle removal while my husband was out watching football. It is easier for me to handle crying (he caves). We had kept the bottles in one location and she was quite aware of how to let me know she wanted one. Rem would walk right up to the counter point and we would make her a bottle. On this day she walked up to the counter pointed and I filled a cup with milk, quickly to be met with the WORST meltdown I had experienced. I felt HORRIBLE. After an hour of fighting with my 18 month old I caved, counted this as a loss and gave her a bottle. Sheer bliss appeared on her face as she drank her bottle and watched Moana.
The next day I picked up some transitional Dr. Browns nipples to replace the traditional bottle nipples. She walked over to the counter to point to her bottle. I gave her milk in the bottle (and new top) which she then returned to my hand and ran off to color in her coloring book. We had avoided the meltdown. She had the comfort of knowing the bottle was available although it didn't feel like it had before. I continued to offer her the bottle with the transitional sippy spout which she continued to return. This reaction was miles from where we were just two days ago.
Here we are now, 19 months and we have one cup of milk a day to go down for a nap and maybe 2 a week just because she asks, besides that we get our calcium from our diet and we drink a million cups of water a day. Mamas, trust your instincts as always. I felt so much pressure from the "timeline" of loosing the bottle and would overanalyze. It only took her two/three days to adjust. Unlike many other transitions, this was one of the easy ones for us. I find it entertaining that she prefers to walk around with a plastic cupcake or grilled cheese now versus a binky anyway.
We’ve been lucky. Like most things with Sonny, bottle weening was an easy transition. The only problem was that I overthought the process. He never took a pacifier which (not so secretly) I was pleased because I have witnessed that weening process multiple times firsthand. I have heard nightmare stories about bottle weening that sounded eerily similar to the pacifier which scared me. This was our first weening experience, and I had no clue what way it was going to go!
Around Sonny’s first birthday I made a plan to start eliminating bottles. This was my first step; to consolidate his 5-6 daily bottles. By his first birthday he was down to 2-3 bottles a day. Most mornings Sonny had a bottle when he woke up. Then one before his nap and one at bedtime. This process was relatively easy since Sonny was already drinking water from a sippy cup and usually preferred water over milk (Ripple Pea Protein) / formula (Enfamil Nueropro Gentlease). I was also confident in the reduction of “milk” intake since he got plenty of calcium from solid foods.
After this step is where I got into my own head and started second guessing myself and my plan. What if he didn’t go down for his naps or bedtime as easily? What if he refused milk altogether and got dehydrated? Was it really time to ween or was I throwing a wrench into our routine? What if he needed the bottle for comfort? Was he too young? I contemplated these things over and over. I delayed and researched bottle weening for absolutely no reason. We stayed “stuck” at step one for at least a few weeks, only having the bottle a few times a day.
My big mistake when weening was not just eliminating the bottle completely next. I found a bunch of products online that helped transition from bottle to sippy cup. The Nuk had great reviews and I purchased it in the hopes it would help. For my kid it just created confusion. He wasn’t a fan and I immediately switched to a regular sippy cup with milk. And just like that BAM there was the solution. All I had to do was put milk in his sippy cup And it was bye bye bottles. He never cried or missed his bottles. The weeks I spend worrying and researching were for nothing.
By 13 months Sonny was bottle free and it was an easy process for us. Like I said, I was the problem. I overthought the situation. Sonny was young enough to switch from bottle to sippy cup seamlessly. My best advice is to start young and early. I can only imagine the process of weening gets harder and babies become more and more dependent on bottles for self-soothing as they get older. I believe the perfect age to start the process is around the one-year mark. Don’t overthink and just make the switch once you’ve gotten down to a few bottles a day. I’m not opposed to transition cups/tops. Most parents attribute their success to utilizing them. If your child is already comfortable using a sippy cup for water the switch is easier too. Find a cup that works best for your kid. For example, Sonny only uses straw cups. That’s his preference. Now that Sonny is 17 months old, we don’t need a cup of milk before our naps or bedtime either. I offer a cup of water if he wants something to drink while we read stories. It was another easy transition that we did when we felt the time was right. Trust your instincts! Mama knows best!