Hannah will be two next month, and I know it isn’t fair or right to compare your children to each other but … when Liam was this age, he was off the bottle and in the process of being potty trained. This has nothing to do with Hannah’s abilities but everything to do with my tardiness. I have been so lax with getting Hannah to do big-girl-things because this time around, there’s no rush. With Liam I refused to have two babies on the bottle, two babies in nappies – two BABIES full stop, I needed Liam to grow up a bit. So I pushed him hard to be a “big boy.” I still have issues of guilt around this subject, issues I will save for a special blog post, but in hindsight I see that Liam didn’t suffer at the hands of his OCD mother who needed him to be a little more independent; in fact I think he flourished and has turned out to be a reasonably stable little boy who enjoys his independence. Fast forward to Hannah.. she is our baby, and still very much a baby-baby! We love to baby her! Not in a spoilt sort of way, but in an adoring way; she just has this thing about her that melts hearts, this thing that makes it very difficult not to be wrapped around her little finger. Her Dad will openly admit that he has fallen so deep under her spell, that there’s no going back. Liam and I, although we like to act macho and as if we are still in charge, also recognise that she turns our hearts to mush and there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for her.
That said, last month I decided that we HAD to start weaning Hannah off her botty. I don’t think there’s a prescribed age for weaning your child off the bottle, but I had always said that my children would be off the bottle by age two. This was easy with Liam – at 15 months I took him off a day bottle because he had started school, and he would only have a night bottle and at 18 months I said to him that the botties must go in the bin, he agreed and that was that. No questions asked, no complaints – he just accepted it. I remember that first night, he was rather sad because he missed the comfort of his botty, but he was ok. He didn’t need a “replacement” cup, he just stopped. I assumed that it would be as easy with Hannah. Not. Firstly, Hannah drinks at least three milk bottles a day. She is happy to drink water or juice from a sippy cup, but she will only drink milk from her bottle. I started by telling Zoleka that she was to replace the day time bottles with cups of milk, but Hannah refused to drink milk out of anything else. She kicked up a huge fuss over not being able to get a bottle and basically went on a milk strike. At night she cried so bitterly for her botty that I just didn’t have the heart to go through with it and caved in. The thing is, Hannah’s bottle is like her security item. Sometimes she doesn’t even drink it, but she plays with the teat and falls asleep by rubbing it between her fingers, or covering it with her pyjama top – I think she is just tactile like that! I’ve tried to give her another item to attach herself to, like a taglet, but she didn’t take to it. Anyway, that was last month and our failed attempt saw Hannah winning and getting her botty back.
This weekend she bit through the last of her Avent teats, and that was it. I simply refuse to buy anymore. Unlike Liam, I
realise that she needs a transitional item, so I went to Baby City yesterday and scoured the shelves for something that was like a botty, but not a botty. Yes, I know what you’re thinking… why don’t we just go cold turkey. But I am just not ready for the trauma that comes with cold turkey… ask a smoker how difficult it is! I eventually found a Winnie the Pooh sippy cup from NUK, which still has the soft spout, still shaped like a bottle but it’s more like a cup, than a bottle. I bought ONE. Which I plan to use ONLY at night and when she needs to nap in the day. She was very excited with her Pooh cup (we going through a serious Winnie the Pooh and Friends stage in our house) and we made a huge affair of saying good bye to her bottles – a whole shopping bag full – and let her throw them in the bin herself. Last night, she refused to drink from Winnie the Pooh and cried a few sorrowful tears, but she was eventually happy to hold it and play with the teat as she fell asleep. At some point during the night, she and Winnie the Pooh (still full of milk) crept into bed with us and I heard her finally start to drink in the early hours of the morning. Again this morning, we made a fanfare about the bottles that were, and about the new fabulous Winnie the Pooh cup. I think she’s getting the drift. My plan is to eliminate Winnie from the day and bring him out just at night.. and by her birthday at the end of next month, I want her to be off a soft teat altogether. I want her to understand that last round is at 6h30pm and that’s it for the night baby! I can’t say that her one night bottle affects her sleep, because Hannah sleeps really well and even if she does get up for that bottle, it’s right next to her and she helps herself without disturbing the rest of us. BUT I do believe that taking the bottle away is a natural progression and she is ripe and ready for it now.
She still has her beloved dummies which I will not even attempt to take away from her; I know that battle will be a long and arduous one, but this particular bottle battle will be won… by me. Because I am the boss, and I say so (and also because I cannot bear to wash another bottle, and I need the space that the big bloody steriliser takes up on my kitchen counter).
So bye bye bottle it is!