Mom-to-Mom: Your Parenting, Childcare Questions Answered – Letting Go of The Bottle

Mom-to-Mom is a regular series offering real-life driven answers to your real questions about parenting and childcare.

Please send me your questions and I will answer them to the best of my ability. Also, please feel free to comment and add your own advice. We can all benefit from helping each other. #MomtoMom

Q: My 18-month-old really loves his bottle. He drinks out of a sippy cup, but enjoys the comfort of the bottle before bed and when he first wakes up. He doesn’t suck his thumb, have a blankie, or use a pacifier. I hate the idea of forcing him to stop the bottle, but the pediatrician keeps making me feel like I’m doing something wrong. Also, my daycare center is refusing to offer my son a bottle, even though it’s how he falls asleep best. What do you recommend I tell my daycare and when did you stop giving the bottle? – Patricia, Ashburn, Va.

A: All doctors and parenting books offer guidelines about the best time to start your baby on solids, the best time to potty train, the best time to take away the bottle, the pacifier, etc. The important thing to remember is that these are guidelines. No two children are the same, so it’s impossible to have one set of rules for all children. I always hate when pediatricians make you feel like you are doing something wrong simply for not adhering to their timetable. The thing I always ask myself when confronted with one of these guidelines is why this recommendation is being made. Is it a safety issue? In the case of the bottle, this  is a personal choice not an issue of safety. The truth is if you remove the bottle or the pacifier before 16- to 18-months it is much easier than waiting until they are older and more attached. But, just because you still allow your child to have a bottle once or even twice a day does not mean you are doing something wrong. My children all clung to their bottle for comfort until well past 18 months. I didn’t allow them to fall asleep with their bottle or take one to bed, but I did let them have one after dinner and if they were not feeling well. In many cultures, babies are allowed to use a bottle for years. This is not a crime, nor will it stunt your child’s growth. You just have to use commonsense. A child that has a bottle or pacifier hanging from their mouth all day long will take longer to speak. A child that depends on drinking the majority of their calories will be pickier about eating. A child that never learns to fall asleep without a bottle will be harder to put to bed. These are the reasons to transition your child, not because you feel pressure from a your daycare or doctor.

In terms of your daycare, if you adamantly disagree with their guidelines then you always have a choice to make a change. The question is whether this issue is a deal breaker for you or not. Is having your son give up the bottle while at daycare that much of a hardship? If so, is this hardship more about you or your son?  I have found that children give up the bottle and pacifier much easier in my daycare. Parents are often surprised to see how easily their children let go of these things with me. Sometimes this is the incentive they need to also make the change at home. You will find that as parents we cling to these sources of comfort as much as our children (perhaps to extend their babyhood?). You will find if you make a decision to make a change and stick to it, you and your child will get through it just fine. Good luck! #MomtoMom

E-mail your questions to nicoledash@gmail.com. Visit the Tiny Steps Mommy Facebook page to join the discussion.

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About 

Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger and business owner who lives in the suburbs outside Washington, DC with her husband and four children. She started her career as a journalist and copy editor. She also managed public relations and corporate communications for a national franchise company, but in 2009 started a home-based daycare. Nicole has enjoyed success as a small business owner and is a leader within the child care community in Northern Virginia. In 2012, she began her heartfelt blog, Tiny Steps Mommy, where she writes about family, life, parenting and finding herself amid the chaos. She is an active member of the Washington, DC blogger community and is listed on the blogroll of more than 20 local blogs. Nicole is also a Huffington Post Blog Contributor and writes for The DC Moms. She is extremely social and loves connecting on Facebook and Twitter.

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  1. It totally depends on your child and it is your own decision as to when you stop giving your child a bottle. I personally wouldn’t push the preschool point of a bottle as at 24 months they will only give milk from cups and won’t use sippy cups (this is at large preschools, home care usually isn’t as strict). As long as your child isn’t falling asleep with the bottle, take your time deciding when to wean them off. I have known people to still breast feed until 3 so whats the difference?

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