It has now been just over 3 weeks since D had her last bottle of milk, so I am happy to confidently report that we are currently a bottle-free house. I haven’t washed a bottle or nipple in 24 days. Wahoo!
Our doctor has been recommending D drop the bottles all together by 18 months (which she turns tomorrow!), but until recently I was scared to even try. We were successful in getting her down to just having them at night – 1, maybe 2, before bedtime if she drank the first one and was still wanting more – but I had no idea how she was going to get to sleep without those. Well, I would usually give her one before naps on weekends, too, so I guess *almost* only at night would be more accurate. Only at sleep time, we’ll say, that’s better.
I didn’t feel like she was ready to drop them completely, and if I’m perfectly honest, I didn’t really want her to drop them either. It’s almost like it was the last vestige of her really being a baby, and I didn’t want that tie to be broken just yet. I didn’t want to give up that bonding time we still had when I would rock her to sleep with her bedtime bottle.
I say we were successful in getting her down to just sleep time bottles – that was probably by December that the morning and random daytime bottles were totally gone (i’m talking bottles at home – she hasn’t had one at daycare since at least last summer). Then we went to Hawaii, and it turned into a bottle free-for-all. We took multiple ones in the diaper bag on the planes to calm her in flight if needed. We gave them to her in the mornings if she wanted them. We gave them to her at the pool before naps so she would snooze in the shade. We took them to restaurants when we went out to lunch and dinner to keep her calm if needed. And yes, we gave them to her at bedtime each night too.
So you see, we totally screwed ourselves there. How was she ever going to give them up now, after we’d just jacked her bottle quotient up higher than it had been in months? The poor girl was in bottle heaven!
We simply went cold turkey, that’s how she gave them up. The week after we got back from Hawaii, I conceded that she could still have 1 bottle, but only 1, and only right before bedtime. If she drank it then didn’t go to sleep, she wouldn’t get another when she finally did go down. That lasted a night or 2, before I realized that if we’re cutting her back down to this level, we may as well try to get rid of the whole shebang.
We started on a Saturday, and the first night sans bottle – terrible. I took her in to her room at bedtime and rocked her while reading a book, because I could tell she was really sleepy. She had her little burp cloth that she likes to hold at bedtime, and we were snuggled in tight in the glider in her room. Eventually she got very squirmy, and I could tell I was in for a struggle. Instead of putting her down, though, I held her in a cradle hold and stood up to bounce/rock her like I did to soothe her when she was really little. She wanted none of it, but I just kept her there, held snugly against my chest so her head was resting in the crook of my arm.
After about 15-20 minutes of the crying cradle hold rock, she was out like a light. R had come in at the start of the cries and told me to just give her a bottle, we’d try again tomorrow, but I insisted on not giving her any more. I knew how tired she was and that she’d eventually give in to sleep, and I was right. I knew you could do it, D.
The second night – cries again, but for a much shorter time. The third night – cries again, but even shorter still. By the middle of that first week of no bottles at bedtime, D knew the routine. We get her rag and book, then go in to rock before going night-night. Sometimes she’ll fall asleep on the couch in R’s lap while he’s watching tv, but most nights I read and rock her. I do usually read and rock her for nap time on weekends too, but she has gotten better about going down without that sometimes.
The first week after dropping the bottles D did wake up during the night a little more often than normal, but that has since diminished as well. This transition turned out to be much less frightening than I expected, which helped my mama heart. D was an absolute trooper, as usual. I figured if she never has bottles at daycare and simply lies down to sleep at nap time for them, she can do it at home too. She proved me right.
What are her favorite bedtime stories, you ask? Right now we like The Little Red Hen and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I usually have to read The Little Red Hen a couple times before she falls asleep, but so far I’ve only made it all the way through One Fish, Two Fish once. It’s amazing how quickly you can memorize a children’s book. “Not I! said the duck…”