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Saying Bye-Bye to the Bottle

We’d been wanting to do it for a while now, ever since Preston turned one in August, but we didn’t think he was ready (and we knew we weren’t ready either). Preston never got into his binky and he wasn’t a thumb-sucker; bottles were always his soothing method of choice. And boy did he love his ba-bas. To be perfectly honest with you, I loved giving them to him.

Around the time he turned 10 months we started introducing sippy cups, just to get him ready for the transition. I’ve read that pediatricians recommend taking toddlers off the bottle at one year, but absolutely no later than 18 months; our ped isn’t quite as rigid as that, but he suggested we try eliminating one or two bottles a day. So for the last three months we’ve kept him to 2-3 bottles a day: one in the morning with prune juice AND Miralax; usually one before his sole afternoon nap; and one at bedtime. But there were some days, especially days we were out and about, that we’d give him another milk bottle in between meals just to keep him pacified. We never let him go to bed with a bottle though (save for a few times when we got desperate). I was very conscious of not developing a habit out of this -- I was worried more for us than I was for him. I didn’t want to rely on this bedtime routine (in fear of it leading to tooth decay and other bad things), because it was way too easy to rely on. Plus, like I said, I enjoy giving him his bottles -- it's nice bonding time for us, even if he holds it himself while I read to him.

I have a couple of friends who were successful at taking their kids off the bottle right when they turned one; they simply cut them off cold turkey, suffered through the tantrums and never turned back. I suppose we could’ve done that, too, but it was much easier just giving him the bottle and watching him enjoy every sip of his drink. And the times we’d put a sippy cup in front of him, he’d do what any stubborn baby would -- he’d push it away with all his mite, and refuse to drink out of it. Period. And we didn’t persist -- we’d give him the bottle right away. I didn’t want my poor child to go thirsty obviously.

It's our weakness that has kept him on the bottle this long, not his. We’re the ones lacking in the discipline department; he’s just doing what he knows, what we've taught him. And it was this realization that led us to attempt the cold-turkey cut-off this weekend, while we’d both be home for the long Thanksgiving holiday. I didn’t want to put this major milestone and chore on my nanny -- she has a hard time saying no to him anyway. Taking your kid off the bottle is a job for the parents, and I wanted to be home the first few days to oversee its progress.

So Thanksgiving was actually his last day as a full-time bottle drinker -- Friday we took him off the bottle entirely during the day (he still gets a bedtime bottle with milk). All the anxiety over this was really for naught -- he’s done remarkably well so far, even if he isn’t getting nearly as much liquid during the day. Because of his constipation, I didn’t want to totally eliminate the bottle from his life, because I need to make sure he’s getting enough Miralax every day to help him poop, so I’m giving it to him in his bedtime bottle to make sure he’s consuming it. But eventually that will have to go too...

He’s starting to come around to the sippy cups (sort of) but he merely takes little sips here and there. We cheer him on like he's just scored his first touchdown or, heck, won an Oscar. It's like the biggest achievement of his life every time he takes a sip. He’s not downing his milk or juice the way he usually does when it’s out of a bottle, and now I'm not even sure if he's taking in anything or just pretending to for his own amusement of watching us act like fools. But this leads me to think that he never really loved what he was drinking; it was more about how he was drinking it. Yep, I am just now figuring this out.

Not to offer TMI (but why stop now, right?), I noticed his breath started to smell after a day or two of no more bottles -- what's the baby equivalent of cotton mouth? He’s never had bad breath before, just the opposite actually (he still has that cute baby breath) so I can only assume it has something to do with taking in less liquid. Has this ever happened to your kid? I bought these little toothbrushes that fit over your finger, perhaps I should give them a try -- for the five-and-a-half teeth he has.

What sippy cups have you had the most success with? Right now we’re trying them all: Nuby, Munchkin, Playtex, with straws and without. The one he seems to like the best right now is by Nuby, it’s the 3 Stage Grow Non-Drip Bottle that comes with a sippy-cup-shaped nipple top, and removable handles. I think he likes smaller sip-tops; some of the sippy cups by Nuby come with big mouthpieces that he has a hard time sucking on. He ends up just biting on them, because on top of everything else he's also teething while adjusting to his new stemware.

I’d love to hear what your experience has been taking your kid off the bottle: When did you do it, and how did you do it? And when should we eliminate that nighttime bottle, and -- again -- HOW? At this point I’m only sure he’s getting 8-10 oz. of milk a day now, and sips of water and/or juice throughout the day. Just tiny sips. He’s gotta be so thirsty, the poor thing. I know doctors say that if they're really thirsty eventually they'll take a drink out of a sippy cup, but those doctors haven't met my headstrong little man. 

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