I was looking back through all my photos last night on a bit of a tearful trip down memory lane. As you do.
I noticed that a great deal of my photos were of my daughter with her bottle hanging out of her mouth. Now those that know my girl know that she is an avid follower of the milk diet! In a bottle, no cups, no beakers, it has to be the bottle. She will drink milk in a beaker at nursery with her friends but at home she associates the bottle with her comfort and happiness. Up until the age of two and a half, she seemed to have the bottle hanging from her teeth all day, carrying it around like an old friend, refusing to be parted with it.
And if I am brutally honest, which lets face it, most of us are not with ourselves, it was easy. Easy to keep giving her something she was used to. Easy to give her instant comfort. It’s not something I am proud of but it’s not something I am going to beat myself up about either. From when she was about 18 months old, I have basically been on my own with Emi, so being a single parent, quite unexpectedly, is somewhat of a shock to the system. Through life’s other busy goings on, sometimes you are just plain too tired to fully promote change.The time has to be right for everyone. I have been happy to allow this up to now, as we have been both going through a difficult change in circumstances with lots of uncertainty and heart ache, so, in my opinion, lets face it, that girl has probably needed every home comfort she could get to get her through that difficult period. And she is coming through it with flying colours thanks to my love and support, I am happy to say.
However, as a mom, we all have to face some difficult decisions regarding our children’s health and happiness. It can be so hard for parents to know if they are doing the right thing and there honestly is no black and white answer. You want your child to be as happy as possible but you want whats best for their health also. Taking away something that gives them so much comfort and familiarity can often feel like you are being somewhat cruel to the child in changing what they know and love. But as the child develops, life has to as well, and it does get to a point where a bit of tough love and persistence needs to come into play to move the child on a bit if they are not doing that naturally for themselves. You have to go with your heart, use common sense and listen to your instincts telling you that what you are doing is best for your child in the long run.
With that bit of self-given advice in mind, along with her recently turning three, for the last few months I have really made a conscious effort to try to wean her off the bottle using nothing less than a bit of tough love and persuasion. I am very aware that using a bottle for too long can damage speech development as well as cause tooth decay. My daughter, as anyone that knows her will testify, has no trouble with her speech, she in fact gives me a run for my money and doesn’t stop talking from about 6am the second she wakes up! So there’s no worries on that count.However, the tooth decay is something that bothered me along with the dependency she had on her bottle as her main source of comfort.
It didn’t start well. At all. She basically had withdrawal symptoms, she was cranky and crying when she got tired, something that was usually eased by shoving the bottle in her mouth and allowing her an hours nap. I wanted to give up. I had a constant headache. I doubted myself and my reasons for trying to get her away from the bottle. I thought if it made her happy maybe I should stop trying to remove it if it upset her that much. Then I would do all I could do, step back, think of the health reasons of why I was doing it, take a breath, have a brew, and carry on.Weaning your child off anything that they love is horrible. That is the honest truth. There is no easy quick fix. But perseverance does pay off. You wont believe it at first. But it does.
From having the bottle several times per day, and if I am honest, having far more milk than she needed, I have managed to wean her down to one bottle per day, a few hours before bedtime. In a few months, this is a massive achievement for us both and I hope to continue it so that she eventually does not even need that one bottle. She has started to drink juice, squash or water from a beaker or cup and is happy to do so now with no arguments or complaints. She occasionally asks for the bottle in the day when she gets a bit tired and it’s not something I feel bad about anymore when I say no. Also, she accepts it now, because it has become the norm. She says ok and carries on with what she’s doing.
As an added bonus, she told me she didn’t want to wear her bedtime nappies anymore, so I cautiously took them off expecting a lot of wet sheets and in the last 9 nights she has been dry every night. The weaning of the milk has helped with this as she no longer takes a bottle to bed and if she does want a drink before bed I explain that if she does that she might wet the bed and she just accepts it. I truly believe that kids will follow your lead if you give them a stable and consistent environment to do so.
I am so proud of how far she has come in such a short space of time. And now I can get photos of that beautiful face without a bottle covering half of it. Now its lipstick she’s taken to instead. 😉 x