My 7 Day Bottle Weaning Adventure
As a first-time parent, I felt I had bonded so well with my daughter that it wouldn't be so hard having to take anything away from her she didn't need. The time would come, and I would explain it and she'd understand and we'd just cross that milestone in harmony. Here we were a year in, and an "expert parent" was suggesting: "It's time to take her off the bottle." I just shuttered inside. I knew the day was coming, I knew neither one of us were ready, and I didn't want to just do it on someone else's command. I remembered at her last checkup her pediatrician mentioned that we had several months left to take her off, "You can take your time but have her off by 18 months." He said. I did take my time, and by the time I was ready to take her off, she was so attached that I started questioning my mom about how long I stayed on. "Closer to 2 years old." she said, but I didn't want that for my daughter. At this point, I knew the longer I took, the harder it would be, but she just still wasn't ready, and neither was I.
The Trying Trial
Those months crept up on me so quickly. I thought I had to act fast enough to keep her on schedule with the doctor's orders. The first couple of times I was timid, I would try to stand my ground randomly when she would ask for her bottle. I went from saying no as polite as possible to using reasoning and persuasion to finally aggressively pushing her to use her cup. It was so hard, and what made it harder was the cry she gave every time she thought she wouldn't get her bottle. She would take everything else in the cup but milk. Juice and water were no problem, but she would examine the cup and as soon as she realized it was milk, on the floor it went.
Why was I breaking her heart?
She must need the bottle if she's crying so hard for it.
Will she ever stop crying?
Can other people hear this?
Surely if I let her keep the bottle she would put it down on her own eventually, right?
I've seen several other children out in public walking, talking and toting a bottle, why should I be so strict?
I began researching how other moms did it and pulled what I could from them. I noticed that many of the results I found said I could do this in at least a week and she would be good with the cup. I felt I was already set up to fail because I created this routine of her having a drink before bed. That created a bottle dependency at night, so then I was dealing with her not being able to sleep until she got the bottle first. Because of that, I knew it would be extra tough. So, while my husband prepped to go away on business for a week, I took a few steps to get myself ready for a cold turkey transition.
Here are the steps I took to prepare:
I gradually reduced the number of bottles she used. From three down to one.
The bottles I was no longer using I hid away in the back of the cabinet
I would give more water and less milk throughout the day
I offered a cup first every time I was offering milk
I hid the last bottle and stopped the bottles completely when he left for the week.
The first night I had to rock her to sleep. She cried and cried for hours for her bottle, I was exhausted, it was extremely draining, but eventually, she did fall asleep.
The next day was ok because I had already reduced the number of times she used the bottle during the day. Basically, my result was she didn't drink any milk because it didn't come the way she wanted it. That night was equally as hard as night one, but again, she did finally fall asleep.
Day three was more of the same, with a somewhat easier night
*The nights did eventually get easier as the week progressed, but she did ask for the bottle every single day and night.
After seven days without the bottle, she started to accept the cup. She would mention the bottle here and there for the next couple of weeks but overall if I said no and gave her the cup, she did drink her milk. Looking back I remember it seeming so dreadful of a task to complete but after it was done I felt like maybe I could have done it sooner. We both moved on, she is still her normal happy self and I don't feel guilty for forcing the transition at all.