The short version is that I exclusively breastfed Ben until he was a year old and then weaned him over a four week period.
Ben’s one year appointment fell about two weeks after his first birthday. At this point we had already started the weaning process and had been adding in whole milk bottles in to his schedule, per the weaning process I’d planned.
And the pediatrician said this – “Make sure you mix up what you use to feed him whole milk. Some kids get stuck on bottles because they start drinking milk from them and then won’t drink milk from sippy cups.”
Ruh roh, I thought. We’ve probably already created this problem.
Ben had been using sippy cups for water for a few months at this point. Since breastfeeding had been a quiet time for us, I’d switched over to bottles of whole milk and was still holding him in the chair in his room, just as though I was breastfeeding. Bottles seemed like the natural choice to replace that same feeling/experience. Honestly, I didn’t think too much about it and I guess I didn’t realize that most kids transitioned off of a bottle by one.
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I should note that that we swore by Dr. Brown’s bottles (we use the glass ones). We started on Avent bottles (also glass) for his supplemental feeds (which we had to do for the first month after we brought him home) and he’d get so fussy after using them. We tried Dr. Brown’s one evening and it was a game changer. No more fussiness!
Okay, back to it –
The day after his appointment, I put milk in his favorite sippy cup and handed it to him. He started to drink it and promptly choked. I tried other sippy cups and each time, the flow of the milk out of the sippy cup was too fast and he just couldn’t keep up. He’d wind up with milk all over his face, choking and not actually getting much down.
One day it dawned on me – we’d screwed up.
When Ben first came home from the hospital, we had to special order preemie size (and flow) nipples for our bottles. More on life with a preemie here. Months later (when we realized the feeds were taking forever) we switched over to the regular newborn nipples (most companies call these stage 1).
Here was our major error – we never moved up the flow of the bottle nipples.
He had just used the same ones for his entire first year. So going from a slow flow nipple to a very open flow sippy cup was completely overwhelming him.
When I talked to my best friend about this we realized that it might have been the result of doing all of our baby shopping online. I’d never stood in a store and looked at the bottle section to notice all of the nipple options and have that ah-ha moment of “oh that’s what you’re supposed to do.” I’d chosen the top rated bottles on Amazon, added them to my Babylist online registry, and called it good.
We’re still in the process of moving him over from bottles to sippy cups. I ordered a variety of “transitional” sippy cups and these days he can manage with most of them but initially he couldn’t.
Our first step was the Mam Trainer Cup. It comes with two nipples – one that is more like a bottle and one that is more of a spout like a sippy cup. It’s the most bottle-like sippy cup option I found.
Once he’d gotten better at the spout nipple on the Mam, he started accepting the Munchkin Latch Transition Cup too. Initially this one was way too fast for him and he still gets milk all over his face when he uses it.
He’s only very recently figured out the Nuby Sippy Cup. It’s spill-proof but it almost seems like he has to bite down a bit to get the holes to open to get milk out. Initially he couldn’t get any milk out of this one but has improved recently.
He loves the Munchkin Weighted Straw Cups for water but hates milk out of them. He also loves the Munchkin 360 for water but again, won’t drink milk out of them. We basically designate one water cup per day and offer it at all mealtimes and leave it accessible to him the rest of the day (i.e. we leave it on the floor near his toys). We alternate between these two types of sippy cups.
So anyway, what we learned is this: next kid, we’re definitely going to buy the medium and then fast flow bottle nipples as our child gets older so that he/she is prepared for sippy cups when the time comes.
I don’t know if anyone else experienced this or something similar but it’s definitely not something I’d ever heard or read about and never saw coming as an issue. If you have any tips on getting rid of the bottles for good, please let me know!