May 21, 2008,
S.S. asks from Tucson, AZ on May 18, 2008
Weaning from Bottle - Tucson, AZ
My pediatrician told me at my sons 9 month visit that it was time to start weaning him from the bottle. He said to start putting 1 bottle a day in a cup or sippy cup and gradually wean off of all bottles by the time he's 1. He's obviously not having it. Any tips or advice? I don't want him to miss out on nutrition. He's been drinking water from a sippy cup for months but isn't interested in the formula and gets very upset. He also won't finger feed. He's been on purees and cereals since 4 months old but if any SOLID food enters his mouth he doesn't even swallow it before his gag-reflex causes him to throw up anything in his tummy. He's already walking and advancing in every aspect except with food. Should I be worried? Thanks for any help!
S.C. answers from Phoenix on May 19, 2008
First off, every pediatrician is different. Some are "bottle Nazis" and suggest a very early bottle weaning. Others are more laid back and don't mention it at all.
What you MUST understand is that it's simply a matter of opinion...and it's only a suggestion.
The problem is, every kid is different.
My Ped told me the same thing about sippy cups at the one year visit for both of my kids. But she also told me to keep giving the kids 24+ oz of milk or formula. Neither one of my kids would drink that much from a sippy cup.
I struggled with this for months and finally, at the next visit, I asked her why she recommended the weaning. She said it would help avoid a psychological attachment to the bottle later on.
Are you kidding me? All that misery just so my kids wouldn't get ATTACHED to the bottle?
I laugh now because, as a first time mom, I took her EVERY suggestion as gold. Now I see that I can take what I like and what's important, and leave the rest.
My son used the bottle until he was around 18-24 months. He used the sippy cup too, of course, but giving him a bottle or two a day (usually morning and night) was the ONLY way I could get him to drink enough milk. When I decided to take the bottle away, I agonized that it would be a miserable experience...that he would be SO attached to it by now.
But you know what? It was no problem at all. He didn't even care. Honestly.
Now, my daughter is 15 months and still getting two bottles a day. When my Ped mentioned getting rid of the bottle, I just smiled and nodded.
I guess you can say I AM weaning her off the sippy cup, we're just taking it REALLY slow. ;-)
Also, my daughter absolutely refused solids (including purees)until she was a year old. I did research and found out that they don't really NEED solids until around then anyway. If your little man is at least eating cereals and purees, I wouldn't worry about finger foods. Offer them to him every once in and while and he'll let you know when he's ready.
Sorry for the LONG reply.
Just trust yourself and your instincts and everything will work out fine.
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C.K. answers from Phoenix on May 19, 2008
Steph C has given you a beautifully written reply. I couldn't have said it better. Pediatricians have lots of recommendations for parents that they just shouldn't be making.
I would only add that sucking for babies is a physiological need. The act of sucking soothes a baby by lowering their blood pressure, easing pain, and releasing hormones that calm them. This is well documented in the research, and obvious when you watch your baby.
I found this article that you may enjoy http://www.babyreference.com/ComfortNursing.html
This need, by the way, lasts until your baby is at least 2 years old.
Make your mothering decisions based on your mothering instincts and always question the wisdom of any professional that tells you to go against it.
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M.P. answers from Albuquerque on May 19, 2008
I am not a pediatrician, just a mom. Consider an alternative perspective. Babies in many parts of the world are still nursing at 2 years. Now in the US, that is considered WAY out of the mainstream I know.
I completely respect your pediatrician's recommendation, but I urge you to consider that your baby does not understand timetables or pediatrician's bell curves, and you can bet that most of what a pediatrician recommends is based on bell curves. Where is your son on that bell curve? I encourage you to put more trust in yourself and your listening abilities with your baby. You know your son, you see how he responds to food or formula because you are with him every day. Your pediatrician, although highly trained and knowledgeable with regard to kids in general, can only speculate on developmental milestones when it comes to your son in particular. *Every* child is different.
I encourage you to listen to your baby and try to figure out what he's telling you. Is he interested in the sippy cup? Is he able to pull the liquid sufficiently without choking or discomfort? Is he interested in food, showing signs of frustration when you are eating (maybe he wants some too?) And even if he does, that doesn't necessarily mean he wants what you are having - he just wants to share in the experience to the degree he can. I advocate that it's up to you to help him do that comfortably and in a way that he can enjoy.
If he doesn't like the formula and you are concerned for his nutrition, what about trying another kind or brand? There are several organic varieties, dairy and soy, and at least 6 non-organic varieties - and those are just the powdered ones I know about. And each one tastes different. Maybe a change in flavor will get him more engaged.
Our first child was anxious to start eating and at six months was taking 3 meals a day of pureed solids and moved on to finger foods by 8 months. However, she didn't use sippy cups until much later because they made her choke. She just couldn't figure out how to suck with her mouth and close her windpipe at the same time. She did eventually, although now she's moved on to a regular "non-sippy" cup for mealtimes. By the way, at 26 months, we still allow her an 8 ounce bottle of organic toddler formula 3x a day - we figure it's a super way to get lots of liquid into a very active body in this, a very very dry climate. Some days she wants it, some days she doesn't. We figure there is plenty of time for her to give it up herself before she has to be in kindergarten. There are lots of people out there who would be appalled by this approach, I'm sure. It seems to me our culture really appears to want to rush our babies into growing up FAST. I don't want to keep my baby a baby, but I also think that rushing them out of binkies and bottles and bankies before they are even 2 years old is unnecessary. I figure, what's the rush? I'm not trying to impress anyone with my daughter's developmental milestones, and I don't care if someone thinks she should or shouldn't have a bottle by what age. I'm her Mom, and I (with her Dad) get to decide. You are your son's Mom, and you get to decide what works for you and him.
I personally find it very difficult to believe that drinking from a bottle after the age of one could create any sort of lasting trauma or damage. Maybe it's about the baby teeth? My response to that is, how long does it take a hungry active child to suck down a bottle? We're talking a matter of minutes here, maybe 15 tops if you have a super slow eater. How can 15 minutes of occasional sucking on a bottle (remember, a baby that age is typically eating some solids so it's likely not his only nutrition) create enough pressure to damage tooth development? I can certainly understand concerns if parents give a baby a bottle and let them keep it for long periods as a form of pacifier.
By the way, our older daughter gave her binky up all by herself at 20 months - we had been talking about it with her and one day she put it in the trash and we rode with that move - every time she asked for it we said, "you put it in the trash remember?". No fits, no tantrums, and after a week, she didn't even ask for it at all. As you can see, we are big fans of letting them think it's THEIR idea, and then jumping on the bandwagon. Kids all have their own timetable. I"m not suggesting we parents let our kids run the show, but what works for us is picking our battles carefully and trying to make as much of it seem like their idea as possible. That way when it does come time for a parent to have to lay down the law, it's a special time for the child to learn to listen - I believe that increases the odds of the lesson being learned.
I'm sure this approach will backfire sometimes (who knows, we may be struggling with a bottle 3 years from now!), but what approach doesn't? That's when you move to Plan B. As a parent, you already know the value of Plan B. And C, and D..
Also, as it relates to your son, our second child only really became interested in 'solid' food AT 7 months (we tried months sooner, but she would gag and fuss so we didn't push it), and even now at almost 9 months, anything that is not completely pureed causes her to gag and choke. We do lots of variety but all pureed (there's a book called TOp 100 Baby Purees), and she's happy as a clam. Mealtimes are a fabulous and fun mess. She loves it! We plan to keep her on the "Pureed Plan" until it is clear that she can comfortably enjoy other foods and/or she expresses a desire for something different.
Sorry, I was all over the map here, but the main thrust of my message is that if I were in your shoes, I'd try listen to my baby and try to understand what he's trying to communicate to me, and respond to that. A 9 month old is not trying to play games or manipulate or 'be difficult'. They are just being. They smile when they are happy and they cry when they are sad or frustrated or in pain. During the process, as a Mom, one gains more trust in onself and gets better in tune with the child so that if there ever really is an issue to be worried about, Mom is right in tune with it because she's in listening mode.
A little about me: I am a full time working mom with a super SAH husband/Dad and 2 marvelous girls. 26 and 8 months. My 26 month old was breast fed until she was about 10 months, at which point she started to wean herself, desiring a bottle and her solids over nursing. My 8 month old is still nursing about 60% of the time, the rest is organic formula and solids.
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J.V. answers from Phoenix on May 19, 2008
In all honesty, this is something I don't agree with the doctors on. They are happy to let me breast-feed past one year, so why can't they have a bottle? Just make sure that he isn't laying DONw to eaT WITH IT (SORRY MY SON is helpING ME TYPE :)), AND Just go SLOW. Honestl3y, who cares if he is 18 months or so, and who needs to know? I
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J.R. answers from Phoenix on May 19, 2008
I didn't start weaning my daughter from the bottle until she was a year old and even then, we took it slow. I first took away the afternoon bottle, replacing it with sippy cup right at a year, then I took away the bedtime bottle right at 15 months. I still continued to give her the morning bottle until she let me know at 17 months that she was done with it. She started fussing during the feeding so the next morning I replaced it with a sippy cup and there was absolutely no complaining from her. I guess it just became easier/less work from the cup vs. bottle. I've always listened or watched for her to give me the signs of readiness and it always seamed to work out. I'm hoping that my 8 week old son will be just as easy to read.
My daughter also did the same thing when I first started trying to introduce solids. I just waited another couple of weeks or so and tried again. At two years or 26 months she's an amazing eater, so just be patient and he will eat solids when he is ready.
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D.E. answers from Phoenix on May 19, 2008
Don't stress about taking him off of the bottle. I didn't start weaning my daughter off of the bottle until she was 2 and I had no problems. She went right to a sippy cup and loved it.
So don't worry about it. Personally I think 9 months is to young to be taken off of the bottle. It will happen when he is ready.
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C.C. answers from Flagstaff on May 19, 2008
I agree with Lynn. That's exactly what I did, and it worked like a charm!
L.A. answers from Phoenix on May 19, 2008
I have found it's easier to wean in the last month as I switch over to whole milk. I give sippy cups of mainly water from about 7-8 months for practicce, and when I start making the switch to whole milk, it comes in sippy cups. I thin it's because they know the taste of formula and expect it in a bottle, but whole milk is different, and they can learn to expect that in a sippy cup. Worked well with my first and she was off her bottle by the time she was one.