As Little C crept toward his first birthday, I tried to savor his last moments of pure babyhood. I snuck in extra snuggles, I held him a little longer before putting him to bed, and I relished our last days of sitting together, cozied up in our big green chair, as he drank his bottles in the morning, after nap #1, before nap #2 and at bedtime. I was apprehensive about saying goodbye to bottles, not only because of the transition, but because it seemed like Little C’s baby days would be gone for good.
I couldn’t seem to find much information or guidance about the best way to make the transition. Changing liquids and the canister used for delivery seemed like it must be a straight-forward change, but upon further investigation, I found so many different tips for tackling the transition:
*Change vessels gradually, leaving the bedtime bottle for a few weeks. *Go cold turkey and throw out every bottle in your house so you don’t relent and give back the bottle. *Offer a mix of formula and whole milk and slowly shift the proportions until your child is accustomed to the new taste. *Refrigerate your formula so LO gets used to drinking it cold before switching to cold milk. *Start with a sippy cup. *Go straight to a straw cup. *Offer milk with meals. *Offer milk at the times you once offered bottles.
My. Head. Was. Spinning.
From what I had learned from my weaning from breastmilk journey with Little C, I knew that he was fairly laid back about the liquids he consumed. He barely blinked an eye at the switch from breastmilk to formula, and I never warmed his bottles. He drank formula at room temperature without complaint, so I resolved that when we made the change, I wouldn’t worry much about the content or temperature of the milk. We would move directly to cold, whole milk.
From six months onward, I experimented with several different sippy cups for water with limited success. When C was about 10 months old, we met a fabulous mama in a baby class of Little C’s who by trade was a Physical Therapist who worked exclusively with children aged 0-5 with feeding issues. At that point, I was on failed sippy cup #4, and while C played with her daughter, she gave me some wonderful tips. She recommended going straight to a straw cup, since long term sippy cup use is akin to drinking from a bottle, and using a straw is healthier for oral, speech and dental development. She taught her daughter at six months to drink through a straw, and recommended the First Years Take n Toss straw cups as a teaching tool. They can be gently squeezed to force liquid up the straw, giving the child a taste of the contents, and then they will be motivated to suck the straw to get more. We tried it later that week, and it went great. Long term, I didn’t love those cups due to leaks, but at least C had mastered the straw mechanism. By 11.5 months, I had settled on a straw cup that worked well for us, and prepared myself for the big switch.
Little C reached the big birth day, and when I looked into our cupboard, I still had a canister of formula that was half full. It seemed silly to put it to waste (which my pediatrician wholeheartedly approved of at our 12 month appointment), so rather than switching cups and then transitioning liquids, I held off for a week until we had used up all of our formula. On our last night with a bottle, I tried to be in the moment and truly appreciate this being a “last” that I was aware of.
The next morning, at the sounds of C rousing in his crib, I headed to the kitchen, pulled out a straw cup, and filled it with 8 ounces of whole milk. Gently, I opened Little C’s door while he was still a bit drowsy, and with the cup in one hand, I reached into the crib to scoop him out with the other. He wrapped his arms around me and glanced at the straw cup. We sat on his chair, and hungrily, he reached for the cup. He seemed a bit confused as he sucked on the straw, but the grogginess helped him relax a bit as he snuggled up against my shoulder and drank nearly the entire cup!
Rather than offering milk at meal time and on the go, we continued to offer straw cups of milk at the times when Little C used to take his bottles (first thing in the morning, before 2nd nap, before bed) – mostly because we are creatures of habit in the Confetti house. This also made it easy for me, because at all other times and when we are out and about, we just offer water which does not spoil when left out, can be easily refilled on the go, and does not make a big mess if spilled.
At nap time, I offered several more ounces with more success, and my grand worries about bedtime with no bottle were proven to be no big deal. This little man was content to drink milk in just about any way it was offered.
BUT. Of course, there is always a but.In our house, the consumption was not the problem in this transition. The digestion however, has turned out to be one of our greatest obstacles since Little C made the jump to big boy cups. Whole milk can be tough on tiny tummies, and it definitely is in the case of Little C. When his diapers seemed to be containing rocks, I called our pediatrician who encouraged us to bump up the fiber in his diet before we pursued other medical treatments for constipation. We offered him prunes with breakfast, switched to high fiber breads and crackers, and fed him tons and tons of other fruits.
While this helped to a degree, it was not enough. We examined his diet more carefully, and with the help of the nurse practitioner at his doctor’s office, we made a plan. First, we bumped up the fiber even more. Because kids can be picky with the foods they chose to eat off the high chair tray, we went straight to the source of the problem, mixing a bit of prune juice in with Little C’s milk. In addition, we took a closer look at the foods he was consuming and realized that a ton of our go-to snack foods contained elements of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) that fueled the constipation’s fire. Between bananas, mum-mum rice crackers, and Go-Go Squeeze pouches of applesauce, we were making things worse instead of better. (The nurse also cautioned that carrots and sweet potatoes can also have constipating effects on some kids). Finally, since Little C gets more than enough dairy via his 16-18 ounces of whole milk each day, we go easy on additional dairy from yogurt and string cheese, which were also frequently found on Little C’s meal plan.
With these changes in place, we have been lucky to have fallen into a better rhythm in our transition from bottle to straw cup, and from formula to whole milk.
Moms of toddlers, how did your transition off of bottles go? Were your greatest challenges related to the cup or the milk itself?