>Weaning… part 1
So, my daughter is 2 and still drinks from a bottle (the photo on the right is from last week). She doesn’t ONLY drink from a bottle, she can use a sippy cup, she can drink out of a real cup (though it sometimes gets dumped down the front of her shirt if I don’t help her), and she just learned to use a straw about two weeks ago. But she still uses a bottle and she still drinks formula.
Some back story… I planned to breastfeed. Before I even got pregnant, I knew I’d breastfeed… but what I didn’t know, is that breastfeeding requires teamwork with a newborn that doesn’t always comply. For her first 3 weeks of life, Lilian rejected the breast and only wanted bottles. At some point, she’d breastfeed sometimes, but she was always a mostly bottle drinker. I pumped breastmilk until she was 8 months old, but even then I had milk supply issues so she was always supplemented with formula. (All of that was very emotional and depressing in the first year of her life, but the disappointment of not being able to breastfeed did eventually pass. I hope to be able to breastfeed future children, but I also realize it’s not the end of the world, and I gave it my best try). To add to the confusion, she had milk protein allergy, so she was on hypoallergenic Nutramigen (and still drinks it.)
At one year old, the pediatrician recommended whole milk – and it made her sick (and made her scream in pain), so we tried lactose free milk – with the same result. So we went back on the formula. We were told that the main reason children are taken off of formula at age 1 and put on milk, is because formula has a lot of calories in it, and they want to prevent childhood obesity. But Lilian has been off the charts for weight (below the 0 percentile) for a year, so that wasn’t a concern. The doctor told us if she started to get overweight, we’d have to switch her, but she’s still underweight. In the past year, we’ve tried soy milk and she just simply won’t drink it.
She has a healthy appetite, and everyone who knows her knows she’s a good eater. She eats pretty much everything except oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and spinach – these seem to be the only food she hates so far. Her favorites are broccoli, olives, salad, pickles, chicken, and cheese. She eats beef (hamburgers or meatballs), turkey, tofu. She eats carrots, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers. She loves rice, pasta, and will nibble on bread. She eats ice cream and cheese with no problems. She has a healthy variety.
She also drinks juice at home (once a day with dinner) and in restaurants. Sometimes as a treat we’ll order her lemonade. But she drinks a lot volume wise, she likes to drink. (And she also pees a lot!) I stopped bringing a bottle out with us a few months ago. In restaurants, she’d just sip out of a glass (and I’d help her tip it back so she didn’t tip too far and spill). And in the past two weeks, she’s drinking out of straws, which is fun and exciting. But a few times a day, she’d still ask for bottles of formula – first thing in the morning, mid-morning, before and after nap, and before bed.
Well, my mom told me I was crazy to let her have a bottle still, that she should have been off it ages ago, to just take it away and that’s it. And the pediatrician at this last visit told us no more formula! Soy milk only, from a cup. And then the last few days, we spent a few days out of the house – 2 at my mother in law’s house, then 2 at our friend’s house for a pool party sleepover… and I just took the opportunity to not even bring a bottle, and so she went 4 days without it. She drank juice, some sips of soda, some water, and someone even got her to drink a cup of chocolate soy-milk (with a spoon). Today would have been Day 5 I think with no bottle.
A few times today, she asked me for a bottle, and I just said “no bottle” and offered juice or something else, a distraction. But she’s had very little to drink over the past few days compared to usual. Then after her nap today, until bedtime she was very whiney and clingy. If she threw a tantrum, it probably would have been easier for me to say no. But she asked only once for a bottle, and when I said no, she just whimpered and requested a hug instead. She made me hug and cuddle her for 3 hours. If I released the hug a little or loosened up, she’d cry again and say Hug. After a few hours of this, I decided to give her a bottle. So I did, and she drank 5.5 ounces of formula, handed me back the half-drank bottle, and now she’s relaxed and content. And I feel good about the decision.
Does she need to give up the bottle, of course. But does it need to be cold turkey with no explanation that a 2 year old can understand, I don’t think so. She gave up the pacifier on her own at 7 months, she just spit it out in her sleep one night and never reached for it again and so I packed them away and we never looked back. And no bottles in public has been the first step, and maybe we’ll now say just one a day or something. But it just felt so silly to see her suffering when I had cans of formula and bottles in the kitchen. One more day, three more days, one more week, or even three more weeks doesn’t matter and isn’t hurting anyone. It just felt like I was going against all my parenting philosophy of going with my maternal instincts and letting her guide her own development. I’m not concerned that she’ll be 6 years old running around with a bottle, but just because she turned 2 last week also doesn’t mean that it needs to be torn from her hand and packed away forever. We’re both clearly not ready, and it may take a little more time, but I’m okay with that. So if we can get through days without it, then good. And if she just needs it once in a while, I’m okay with that too. It just breaks my heart to see her so sad, when she doesn’t understand why I seem to be saying no for no good reason. We’ll get there…