If there is one constant in the world of motherhood, it’s that nothing is constant. Once you’ve gotten into a groove with something, it’s time to move onto tackling the next obstacle. First, it’s tackling breast or bottle feeding, finding the right formula or adjusting your diet to your infant’s sensitivities. Then it’s sleep, well, it’s always sleep. Then, it’s introducing solids, then baby proofing, and then just as you’ve figured all that out, they turn one.
When they turn one, there’s a sense of gratification and pride, almost like you’ve finally figured it all out. You’ve survived a year, so you’re a veteran parent now. But at their one year well visit with their doctor, that’s when pediatricians recommend moving them off of bottles and formula, and on to milk and sippy cups.
Boom. More change. For some reason, this one was a doozy for me mentally. No more bottles? I have made and cleaned bottles every day for nearly 13 months, and now what, just, no more? I remember so clearly one middle of the night feeding early on. Me, in a zombie-like trance shuffling to the kitchen to make yet another bottle and thinking to myself, wow. The bottles will never end. And here we are, at the end. My baby is growing up.
There was something that told me my baby wasn’t ready to give up bottles. I called his doctor a few times after his visit (like a psychopath) and told her I don’t think he’s ready. She assured me he was, and the sooner we got him off the bottle, the easier it will be in the long run.
That’s when I realized it wasn’t my baby who wasn’t ready for the transition, it was me that wasn’t ready.
When it was time to start weaning, he was already down to only two bottles of formula per day, one in the morning and one at night before bed. (I should also note we introduced sippy cups at meals times around 7 months, although he didn’t use them very much.) We decided to start gradually, and initially replaced his morning bottle of formula with a sippy cup of formula for a few days, and then a sippy cup of milk. He didn’t mind the sippy cup of formula (we have had the most luck with this one) but he hated the milk. And we tried offering milk all different ways. Whole milk, 2%, warmed milk, cold milk, milk in a bottle, milk in a sippy, milk mixed with formula… If there was milk in it, it was going to get thrown at my head. It was frustrating, but we did not go back to having a morning bottle. If he didn’t drink his morning sippy cup, oh well. He ate more at breakfast.
I tried offering milk for weeks before I made another call to his doctor and asked what to do if my son just didn’t like milk. What do I offer him before bed if he wont take milk? She assured me that as long as he was getting calcium and calories in his diet in other ways, he will be fine. She told me to continue offering milk daily, because eventually, he will come around to it. But he doesn’t “need” anything before bed. The thought of him not getting a bedtime “baba” really worried me. He had a bottle before bed his entire life, how would I just take that away?
That night, I told myself, this is it. We just have to do it. It will get harder and harder the older he gets, so let’s rip the bandaid off with the one bottle a day he’s still getting. So that night I did not offer him a bottle before bed. I offered him a sippy cup of milk, mixed with some warm water. He took a few sips and then was done, and I put him to bed. And guess what happened?
Nothing. He was totally fine. He slept through the night, completely unfazed.
The next few days I was on egg shells. I didn’t speak of what had happened. I didn’t tell anyone we dropped all his bottles. I didn’t tell anyone we switched to milk. I didn’t want to jinx it. I waited a solid 72 hours before even speaking of what we had done. If you’re a mom, you get it. If something is going well, you do not speak of it. You will jinx yourself!
We have now been a bottle-free house for a month and I can say with a good deal of confidence that it was a much bigger transition for me than it was for him. I was so worried about him being okay, that it took a few weeks for me to realize he was perfectly fine. I have stopped offering milk in a sippy cup before bed at all, as most of the time he just throws it and it leaves a mess. If he has an early dinner or is acting hungry, I will offer it, but it’s VERY rare for him to finish more than a few sips. Milk is offered at mealtimes and there is a sippy cup with water available to him all day and before bed. He now drinks more milk with his meals, but other than that, I don’t offer it. Mainly because it’s a mess.
And guess what? He’s fine. He’s better than fine. He’s also eating his meals way better now that he doesn’t get bottles too (jinxing myself here).
His bottles are now packed away with the clothes he’s outgrown. They are no longer on my kitchen counter drying on their designated Boon drying rack. There is no longer a can of formula on my counter. I thought I’d be excited about this, but it breaks my heart a little. My baby isn’t such a baby anymore. But as bittersweet as it is, I’m so happy and proud to see my little guy becoming more independent and growing, just like he should.