Transitioning off the bedtime bottle

I have spent every night this week putting in about two hours of schoolwork, so tonight, with a bag full of papers to correct, I’m ignoring them. This job is crazy! For my sanity, I need a night off.

In the same breath, I’m still trying to blog more, but about specific topics rather than a giant update. As I tell my students, “seed” stories rather than a big “watermelon” book. No one has the time to read a novel!

As I’ve come to learn, parenting is just one giant roller coaster ride of transitions. After everything is finally smooth sailing, something changes. There’s constantly adjustments to schedules, routines, nap times, feeding processes…etc. While we’re on the brink of many transitions, the one I’m focusing on now is the transition off the bedtime bottle.

When we switched to milk at 12 months, we ditched the bottles and gave the twins cups. B took to a straw cup immediately while C stuck to a sippy for a few months but has sinced switched to THIS Munchkin magical straw cup herself. (By the way – have a child who tips back her straw cup and therefore can’t get any liquid out? Buy this cup – worth every penny!)

The kids have since taken their milk in their straw cups with their meals – one at breakfast, one at lunch, and one at dinner. The only bottle we still had was at bedtime. After baths and PJs, my husband and I would each take a kid, hold their bottle of milk (NO, they wouldn’t hold their own bottles – ever) and then put them to bed. They never fell asleep drinking the bottle – we haven’t put the babies to bed while sleeping in memory. But it just was part of the routine, they each snuggled in – it worked. And as the wise saying goes, (and my personal motto for parenting) “Don’t fix what ain’t broke”.But with the recent addition of so many teeth – B has about 12, and C has 9 or 10, I couldn’t stomach the fact that they were “brushing their teeth” in the bath and then drinking milk and letting it sit on their teeth and gums all night. I also didn’t like the fact that they still needed the milk in a bottle when they had no issues with their cups throughout the day. So even though things were going smoothly, I knew we needed to make the transition.

We went about it wrong in the beginning. I couldn’t decide which piece of the transition I wanted to make first – from bottles to cups, from milk to water, or from upstairs in the dark to downstairs in the light. So I started with milk to water, and for anyone considering this transition, that was the WRONG choice. I started mixing one ounce of water in the bottles with one less ounce of milk – and that actually went fine. B did not need 7 ounces of milk after just having 6 ounces at dinner an hour ago. So I did 6 milk, 1 water. Then the next day or two, 5 milk and 2 water. And so on. C only had 4 ounces to begin with, but for her too, I whittled her milk down. I got B down to 1 ounce of milk and 6 ounces of water – and on night one of that he was fine. Drank it all. Night two – major meltdown. Had to pour more milk. I mean, I wouldn’t want to drink that either. I realized..what was I planning to do – give him 7 ounces of warm water? And in his bottle? That wasn’t going to work.

So then we started over. And this time, I gave him about half and half water and milk, as that didn’t phase him whatsoever. (I do recommend adding one ounce of water at a time, but just not as the first part of your transition!) But we gave it to him in his straw cup. Still upstairs in the dark, same routine. But in the cup. He didn’t mind. That piece was easy for him. Now interestingly enough, this is where C’s transition ended. When I presented the milk to her in her straw cup instead of the bottle, she wasn’t interested in drinking it. We did two nights of it with some fussing and I thought – why am I begging her to drink this? They both get their daily allotted amount of milk throughout their three meals – they don’t need this milk. So on the third night, I crossed my fingers and skipped the cup and just – put her to bed. She wasn’t wanting it anyway, and my kids don’t drink milk before naps. Why should bedtime be any different? And it worked out completely fine for her – she never missed it. She’s officially off the bedtime beverage.

B is still a work in progress. I’m blogging before the transition is complete, but I think we’re almost there. He’s a big boy (28 pounds and 31 inches at 15 months), he’s thirsty. He drinks 7 ounces and asks for more. We got it half and half and it’s in a cup. My husband was about ready to start having him drink it downstairs in the light, so that we could brush his teeth after the milk and before heading upstairs. That was the plan. But last night and tonight, B hasn’t wanted his milk. He drank about half last night and only an ounce or two tonight. Again – why force it when he doesn’t need it? So tomorrow we’re making the change. We’re likely to just put him to bed like we do for naps – without any drink. But if he asks for a “ba ba”, then he can sit downstairs on the couch and drink it. The change is here! Thank goodness!

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I’m hoping if B stops drinking this giant cup of liquid, he’ll stop what is my newest head-scratcher – leaking through his nighttime diaper and all over his PJs and sheets! I’ve tried cloth (hemp/bamboo and about one million inserts) and I’ve tried nighttime disposables – two of them – with a cloth diaper cover on it! Still leaking!!!!!

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6 thoughts on “Transitioning off the bedtime bottle

  1. randomsqueaks says:

    Love that last pic of them reading in their highchairs! I’ve only recently let M and V have books in their play area. I’m a bookworm (pre-babies) so it thrills me to see them turning the pages and “reading” now.
    Thanks for the tip about the munchkin cup. My babies don’t get bottles very often but I’m feeling the need to get them used to sippy cups and straw cups so they can transition to milk soon.

  2. robin says:

    Good job going for the change! Kids are adaptable sometimes in surprising ways, like you would expect it would be more of an issue than it is … but it isn’t. I guess they were ready!

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