The other day I was chatting with a fellow stay-at-home mom on the phone, catching up on our respective rather routine lives. And yes, we were actually talking on the phone, not just texting on it. Crazy, right?
As moms are likely to do, we somehow got on the topic of our baby’s feeding habits. Suddenly, the other mother sounded slightly embarrassed, admitting that her baby was still taking a bottle after she had been forced to quit breastfeeding due to some medical issues.
“But I’m planning on getting her on a sippy cup really soon,” she rushed to say.
On the other end of the phone, I was a little taken aback by the obvious implication that she somehow thought I would be judging her for the fact that her baby still took a bottle. And honestly? The thought hadn’t even occurred to me that something was amiss because the baby wasn’t even a year old yet.
I’m just not a mom who worries about those kinds of thing, but maybe I should be? Is there a “right” age for babies to stop taking bottles?
Unfortunately, my third child, my most recent experience with babies and bottles, refused to take a bottle of any kind. His lovely stubborn streak made working quite interesting, prompting my mother to call me in tears while I was at work as a nurse (where I worked 12-13 hour shifts) or forcing her to bring up to me so he wouldn’t starve himself all day. Quite honestly, I would have been happy for him to eat a bottle any time.
My second daughter was my only child who happily took a bottle. After I weaned her at a year old, we offered a bottle of warm milk with her bedtime story and occasionally in the morning if it felt like a particularly snuggly day. I figured it was part of a comforting ritual, like nursing had been and really never thought twice about it. I certainly never worried that she was “too old” for the bottle or that it was somehow a bad thing for her to still be taking a bottle past a year old. When she approached her second birthday and she transitioned into a big girl bed just in time for her baby brother to make his arrival, the bottle also said good-bye, without a lot of fanfare. (Tip: to wean her off the bottle, we slowly diluted the milk with water every night until it was mostly water and she stopped asking for it.) It was a natural progression and something I don’t think was damaging to her.
So why all the fuss about bottles v. sippy cups?
Here’s my theory: I think that many of us who stay at home with small children can make a “bigger” deal out of these small instances and transitions in our children’s lives. Without outside work or any other milestones or job evaluations to tell us if we are doing a good job, it can be tempting to rely on these markers to define our motherhood job well done.
Kid potty trained at 18 months? Nice work, Mom.
No pacifiers or bottles? Way to move past the baby stage.
Into the toddler bed without a fuss? Excellent strategy.
We focus on the transitions of our children as our “report cards” and our markers for success, because really, that’s our job, right? To make sure our children grow up.
But, honestly, I think it’s ok to just let them be little.
A baby taking a bottle is ok. An 18-month-old taking a bottle is ok. All babies and toddlers are different and I can almost guarantee that if you rush to the next stage, you will be looking back someday and wondering why you rushed at all.
Oh, and by the way, if you happen to have a baby or toddler still in the bottle phase, check out these great Mickey Mouse Orthodontic bottles from NUK (pictured above). I’m hanging on to these bad boys because have orthodontic nipples that are more natural-shaped to allow easy transition from breast to bottle. I was sent these for review and you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be hoping baby #4 will take a bottle for me. You can click here to learn more about the bottles. They would also make a great gift for a baby shower!
So three cheers for the bottle/breast/sippy cup or whatever stage your little one may currently be at!