When our daughter was 12 months old, our pediatrician told us to wean her from bottles and recommended doing it cold turkey. This was a complete shock for my husband & I because most of our friends who have babies similar ages didn’t talk about having this conversation with their pediatricians at the 12 month mark and let’s be honest, Molly’s bottles seemed to be the only security “blanket” she had….all we could hear when she said this was “we’re not going to get any sleep!”
Maybe I should take a step back and tell you about why we needed to wean Molly right at 12 months…
At her 12 month appointment, she was still having difficulty self-feeding (click here to read my blog about her self-feeding challenges) …she would actually wait for her bottles even though she was down to only 3 a day and eat just enough solid foods to get her through to her next bottle feeding (what a stinker!) and her blood test showed she was anemic. The pediatrician said it was time for her to move forward and because she knows how stubborn she is, she highly recommended doing it cold turkey.
My husband & I always have to act right away when our pediatrician makes a recommendation because we’re afraid we’ll lose the steam and encouragement that she gives us during the appointment…so we of course went home and started the weaning the very next day!
For those of you who are contemplating or needing to wean your baby from bottles…the first 3-7 days are the absolute hardest, then it gets significantly better!
Here is a rundown of how our week went:
Day 1-2: We were able to distract her from her AM & lunch bottles, but then at bedtime it was a complete disaster. She was use to having the comfort of her bottle right before bed to help her relax and get sleepy, so we were turning her world upside down. We gave her a bath, pjs, read books, sang two songs and then placed her into bed and she continued to cry for about 30-45 minutes until she tired herself out enough to fall asleep…now let’s be honest, hearing my baby struggle with having no bottles made it VERY hard not to cave in. I remember my husband turned to me, grabbed my shoulders as I was crying and said “YOU are the adult, she is the child.” Although it was a very direct message, it made sense. Our kids can play us like fiddles when they really want something…so we didn’t give in! She woke up to “play” for 2 hours in the middle of the night, but our pediatrician told us not to go in to her room because that would make things worse…Molly was basically making another attempt at trying to get her bottle…smarty pants! She also woke up for about 1-2 hours in the middle of the night for the first 3 nights.
Day 3: In addition to our bedtime struggles continuing, this was also her first day of school without bottles. When I dropped her off and explained that we were done with bottles, her teacher looked at me with a panicked look. I knew she was thinking “but your kid LOVES bottles!”, but they followed our instructions. When my husband picked her up, he heard something we didn’t anticipate…Molly struggled throughout the day (when this had been easy at home) because all the other babies were having their bottles , so she didn’t understand why she couldn’t have her’s. Needless to say, this killed me!
Day 4-5: Bedtimes became easy again! She started understanding our new routine and gave into the change! In addition, something we didn’t anticipate was that she started consistently sleeping 11-12 hours a night!!!!!!!! Let’s pause for a minute and reflect: If you feel like giving up, focus on this very point….Molly sleeps better now that her bottles are gone!!!! That in itself should be motivation ! Molly still struggled at school, but her teachers said each day was a little better.
Day 6-7: Although we still had some tough spots, about the one week mark we all were able to breath a little easier & actually have a sense of normalcy back to our lives. For Molly, eating all solids and drinking from sippy cups like a big girl was becoming a routine. Bedtime was actually enjoyable again since we were able to spend quality time reading to her & snuggling.
The moral of the story: DON’T give up! When we were amidst the weaning process, someone shared something profound with me….if you give in, instead of it taking 7-10 days, it will take 14-20 days because your baby will learn they can get what they want if they just push a little harder or put up more of a fight. So hang in there & stick with it even though at moments it’s heart wrenching watching your baby fight such a big change!