Saturday, January 09, 2010

Bottle Boot Camp

I forgot to mention this in previous posts, but it's actually a pretty big deal around here. As many of you know, my 2-year-old, Shay, has had a lifelong addiction to the bottle.

Even when she was just 3 weeks old, she constantly wanted to have a bottle in her mouth, and she sucked those things down so fast that we couldn't believe it. We joked that she was a bottomless pit, and we spent a fortune on formula.

As she got older, her love of bottles grew. "Doddle" was one of her first words. They eventually became receptacles for both the beloved formula as well as an apple juice/water mix. She had to have one to fall asleep, and she could be found clutching one during pretty much all of her waking hours as well. The bottle became her pacifier (which she never actually took on its own), as well as her sustinance.

Tantrum? Soothe it with a bottle. Ouchie? Bottle makes it all better. Ben and I nervously began to joke that she'd better outgrow this before the college years.

When she turned 1 and switched to whole milk, we tried to switch her to a sippy cup. Unsuccessfully. Over and over again. She would impatiently throw the sippy aside, then toddle into the kitchen and point and the cabinet where the bottles were kept, saying "doddle, doddle" over and over again, in an increasingly hysterical voice, until one of us would finally give in.

We had a pretty good run a few months back, where I almost had her broken of the bottle (largely due to the purchase of a Dora the Explorer cup, which she loved). She was definitely not happy about this, and there was much screaming and gnashing of teeth, but we were working on it. But then we took her to her first dentist appointment and learned that her 2-year molars were coming in, and we felt like we were being cruel to deprive her of the soothing sucking motion that she was so used to during a time when she hurt so much anyway.

I was so anxious about all of this that I spoke to our doctor about it several times, and in typical good humor, he told me not to worry about it. "Nobody goes to high school still drinking from a bottle," he said. "She'll give it up when she's good and ready."

The thing was, I was getting anxious that she was NEVER going to be "good and ready."

When I would go to church or MOPS and put her in the nursery, she was the only kid in the toddler crowd toting a bottle. She's so happy and well-adjusted in all other areas, but this one thing was really starting to eat at me.

So I consulted our doctor again. "Go cold turkey," he said. "It'll take you about three days of non-stop screaming, but then you'll be done."

As unappealing as that sounded, we decided to go for it anyway. We picked New Year's weekend. We figured this would be a good "resolution" for Shay. Plus, selfishly, I just didn't think that I could face 3 days of a screaming, thrashing toddler by myself in my current condition, so we picked a time when Ben would be home so we could provide each other relief if it got too bad.

Then Ben got sick right before New Year's and needed to stay home from work, so we ended up having 5 days to work on Shay instead of 3. Every cloud has a silver lining, right?

Ben packed up and hid all of our bottles. Shay cried when she saw the empty cabinet. We started relentlessly giving her sippy cups. She kept throwing them and tantruming.

It was ugly. There was crying. A lot of it. On the second day, when we repeated our mantra of "Shay is a big girl" while denying her a bottle, she looked us straight in the eye, stuck her lower lip out as far as it would go, and said, "Shay not a big girl. Shay is a baby. Shay needs doddle."

Honey, if you're old enough to tell us that, it means you're too old for a bottle.

In the end, though, we succeeded. She is 99% broken of her bottle habit. The only exception is that we will still give her a half a bottle of water to go to sleep with (which is actually awesome, because now she can't wait to go to bed. Score for sleepy Mommy!). We've been showing her off to friends and family members, asking, "Does Shay drink bottles?" To which she replies, with a self-satisfied little grin on her face, "No, Shay big girl. Shay drink cups." Success!


Ragfield said...

Well done. As I read along I started to cringe at the thought of how horrible (for you) this experience could have been. I'm glad (for you) that it's over.

indyhumes said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

indyhumes said...

PS Great job with the bottles! Way to be consistent!

Cathy said...

I'm so glad the 'gnashing of teeth' is over.