The books tell us to ween children off the bottle around one or so years old. I, as a knowledgeable member of the Speech Therapy community, know there is sound reasoning behind this rule of thumb, not the least of which is it aids in the general development of your child. So naturally I totally blew off that bit of wisdom and let my youngest, Jack, just suck away at that bottle till his little two year old heart’s content! I’d like to say that there was some good reason behind the decision but the truth of the matter is I am lazy and I forgot. I was too busy to be bothered with weening, I may have even hoped he’d just chose to switch to a sippy cup. Never mind there is absolutely no precedence for a one year old demonstrating the maturity needed to rationally put away the bottle and self elect to evolve into becoming a sippy cup drinker. History has no impact on me, I’m totally unaffected by it. So I went along doing my thing, thinking I’m an okay parent, my kids are still living. It was a little after Jack’s second birthday that my husband mentioned to me maybe we should start getting him off the bottle. My first thought, “Be my guest,” then I murmured something, ignored the rest of what he said and pretended to agree with him. Awful yes, but, before you judge, the truth is I was already thinking about it and I knew it was time to start the switch, but after a seconds worth of thought, I decided it would be too hard and he would protest and it was just easier not to, and that’s where I left it. Besides Suri, Katie Holmes daughter was about the same age and still using a bottle. So I felt a little better about neglecting my duties.
Moving right along to about three months after my husbands initial broaching of the bottle subject. I am taking my oldest son, Max, to the doctor for his school physical and I have the other two, Sofie and Jack, with me as well. The doctor is a very nice young woman who is about eight months pregnant. She does the physical and all is going along swimmingly until just before we are about to leave she turns to Jack (whose bottle is literally hanging from mouth) and asks, “How old are you?” I answer for him, it’s hard to hear through his bottle. Then she looks at me and jumps right in with, “You know, he’s a little too old to still be on the bottle.” I answer politely, “Yes, I know. I am lazy and don’t feel like fighting him on it.” She replies sweetly, “You need to get him off the bottle, this kind of thing is prohibiting his development. He’s not a baby and he needs to stop using a baby bottle.” To add insult to injury she then advises, “It’s best if you just take all of his bottles and throw them away all at once. Cold Turkey. Some parents find it’s easier for the child if you tell them, ‘an angel needs your bottles and is taking them away for other little kids who don’t have them. Isn’t that nice?'” Cute. I then made some comment about how clever that was, sounds great, yes I will try it, thanked her and left. The verbal tazing left me feeling like an idiot as I shuffled back to the car and loaded the kids. Then I reflexively filled Jack’s bottle with juice and handed it to him. Well I wasn’t gonna start right then.
In the car on the way home I began to talk to Jack about getting rid of his bottle. I told how he was a big boy now and he was going to get use a big boy sippy cup now, won’t that be fun! H*** no, I’m paraphrasing, he didn’t really say that. He did protest a lot and got very upset with me, almost crying, but not quite. My plan was failing, and fast. Trying to hold it together I needed a new tact. Just then Max asked, “Why are you taking away Jack’s bottles?” GREAT! I’ll have Max and Sofie help me. Good idea! “Because the doctor is right, Jack is a big boy and he needs to start using a sippy cup.” Max, not missing a beat, replies, “No! You can’t take away Jack’s bottle, cuz then he’ll be sad and he’ll cry!” Sofie, adding to the gathering storm, chimes in, “Mommy don’t take Jack’s bottle away, he needs it for his juicey!” They’re turning on me. I try to use sympathy, it’s a nasty trick, but I was losing options, “Honey, you heard the doctor, she said Jack needs to stop using bottles. Mommy really needs your help with this, will you help mommy?” Max responds, “No I’m not gonna help you take away his bottle. The doctor is mean. He’ll be sad if you do that.” Sofie starts to cry, literally, “Mommy please don’t take his bottle. Jack loves his bottle. He will be very sad if you take it!” ABORT ABORT ABORT Mission failed, the crew has taken over and mommy is no longer in control. New plan, agree with everything. “Sofie don’t cry, mommy won’t take his bottles today. It’s okay. We can try later, maybe.” I quick change the subject and take them to McDonald’s and buy them all happy meals. Bullet dodged.
Now, I did not see that coming at all. I was totally unprepared for mutiny in the mini-van. My kids don’t generally turn on me all at once like that. So what life lessons did I learn. I learned that raising kids is hard work and I usually like to avoid that. Also, know in advance who your allies are, know when to jump ship and give up, and McDonald’s solves everything.
We did eventuall get Jack off the bottle. Next up, potty training. Which he is alread saying no to.