Kicking the bottle habit is a very hard thing to do because often both mom and baby are attached to it. Nick Loved bottles. If he happened to see one he would scream and get crazy fussy. There were many times we would have to distract him while we got a bottle ready because it would be very difficult to do so once he saw it and the fussiness kicked in. At the same time I loved the bottles because bottle time was really the only time I could get Nick to sit and cuddle with me. Plus the loss of them is such a big step in the growing up process. Still I knew they couldn’t last forever. Now every family does feedings their own way, which means that there is no one way to kick the bottle habit, but this is our story, and I hope it brings some help to those struggling to stop the bottle use. Here is the best advice I can give on how to cut out the bottle.
When Nick’s first birthday rolled around I knew that the days of bottle use were starting to dwindle. We discussed the situation with Nick’s pediatrician at his 12 month Well Visit. Based on Nick’s attachment to his bottles she felt we very likely would need to just cut them out cold turkey. She said that he might get a little dehydrated, but that when he was thirsty he would drink. I wasn’t against the plan, but I didn’t feel he was quite ready for it. We had a lot of formula cans in the cupboards still, so we decided we’d continue to give him bottles until the formula was gone. One thing I felt strongly about though was that I didn’t want Nick to get in the habit of drinking his milk from a bottle. I felt that if we got to that point then breaking the bottle habit would be really hard.
As we got farther away from Nick’s birthday I knew I really needed to think about getting rid of the bottles. Our formula supply was getting smaller and smaller. At the same time though I came to the realization that Nick wasn’t drinking little from his sippy cup because he didn’t want to, or because he was holding out for his bottle. The reason he wasn’t drinking milk from his sippy cups was because he couldn’t figure out how to! At that point I realized that I needed to focus on getting Nick to figure out how to drink from a sippy cup before I worried about getting rid of the bottles. No matter how dehydrated Nick got if we cut the bottles out cold turkey he wouldn’t be taking any drinks if he couldn’t figure out how to get anything out of the cup.
We started changing things up by using straw sippy cups that allowed the parent to push the sides so liquid would come up the straw. Nick couldn’t do it on his own, but he did drink more than he had been with his other sippy cups. Still it wasn’t enough for him to not need the extra liquid from the bottle. Around 14 months Nick used an old Tupperware sippy cup at my mom’s house that had a large hole for the milk to come out of. One day of using it taught Nick how to use a sippy. After that Nick wanted his sippy cup and milk all the time.
About a week after he learned how to drink from the sippy he figured out how to lift the cup with the handles and drink by himself. At that point he really took off. He would easily drink a glass or two of milk per meal. Once he had started truly using the sippy we cut out all of the meal bottles leaving only the one before bed. Nick didn’t even notice that he stopped getting the meal bottles. He still really wanted that evening bottle though. We cut it down to only 4oz, but he was still drinking the whole thing. I started to feel like he’d never give it up.
Then on the 4th of July we went out to my mom’s for the evening. I had brought everything for Nick to have a bath and be fully ready to go to bed before we left, but I had forgotten his bottle. We gave him a drink from from his sippy cup to make up for it. He wasn’t too happy with the situation,but he didn’t protest too much either. By the time we got home it was obvious that he didn’t really care that he hadn’t gotten it.
The next night I wanted to see if he could go without it again. He got pretty fussy at the end of his bath (when he normally would have had his bottle). A guaranteed way to calm Nick down is to take him outside. Since he was already clean I didn’t want him walking around outside, but I figured I could push him around. I decided to put him in his push car, which he loves, since it is low to the ground which would allow him to reach out and touch plants (something else he loves). He had a wonderful time, and by the time we got back inside he wasn’t even thinking about his bottle. The next night I tried the same thing. We gave Nick a bath and then I took him outside. Again it went very well. By that point I knew that we were done with bottles.
It’s been a few weeks since Nick stopped taking a bottle. Our evening walks have become part of his new bedtime routine. Sometimes we use his push car and walk around the block. Other times we use the little umbrella stroller and walk for a mile or two (plus it helps him get used to it for our upcoming cruise). Whatever we choose though we usually spend a good 20 minutes outside. The whole thing was bitter sweet for me. It’s so hard watching you baby grow up. Plus I miss our cuddling time, but we’re finding that in other ways. Nick is starting to crawl into my lap when he plays with toys or when he wants to look at books. If all else fails I can put his blankie on my shoulder and I’m guaranteed to get a cuddle then. I will say though that I do not miss washing bottles every night. There is a silver lining to everything.