Monthly Archives: September 2015

Weaning From The Bottle

The goal is to have our children off the bottle by their first birthday. That doesn’t always happen. Here are a few insights on why we need to get them off as well as tips on getting them there.

Typically what is given in the bottle contains sugar, like milk or formula (or heaven forbid juice), which is left sitting in the child’s mouth, already risking decay. At this point, they should already be getting their teeth and gums washed with a wet washcloth or soft toothbrush. But even so, they are at increased risk of childhood tooth  decay, tooth pain, and cavities by having anything other than water in the bottle. The act of sucking on the bottle over time can also cause crooked permanent teeth. Yes, they get two sets of teeth, but unfortunately, the damage to the first set still greatly affects the second. Decayed first teeth likely go deeper already affecting the second set before they’re even seen. Crooked first teeth cause the second set to potentially come in crooked. Being on the bottle after the first birthday can cause ear and speech problems, poor eating habits, and even developmental delays. Being off the bottle encourages independence, developed coordination, and promotes dental health.

If possible, get rid of the bottle completely after the first birthday, toss it. Out of sight, out of mind. They won’t see it and be more tempted to ask for it, and you won’t be tempted to give it. If that doesn’t seem like a possibility, try these other tips. Every child is different, and you as their parent will know what might work best for them.

  • Some stores carry a ‘transition to cup’ kit that contains a few tops that have nipples that start soft like a bottle and progress to a harder top like a sippy cup. This can help those that need a very gradual transition.
  • The risks of being on the bottle stated above include doing the bottle AND doing a sugar liquid in the bottle like milk or formula. If we begin to only offer water in the bottle and no longer put milk in it, we are nixing the risk of sugar in the bottle and we’ve gotten rid of some risks at least. It’s better to nix some of the many risks than none at all. When some of my clients begin doing only water in the bottle, usually the child ends up losing interest in it all together anyway.
  • If they’re used to the hold of the bottle, take the nipple out of the top and still offer the bottle. You just turned that bottle into a cup with a wide open mouth. I’d recommend this over cutting a large hole in the nipple, because with a widened hole, they’ll still be holding the bottle in their mouths and having the sugars just run over their teeth and gums. With taking the nipple out completely, they’ll only be able to use it like a cup.
  • Let them get excited about the cup. Praise them whenever they use it, telling them how proud you are of them. For the older toddlers still on the bottle, take them to the store and pick out their favorite cup, pick up stickers with their favorite movie character on them or sparkly stars, puffy paint, or whatever you think they’d like. Come home, sit them at the table, and let them decorate their very own sippy cup. That bottle becomes boring old news.
  • It may sound harsh, but some parents swear by this. Put something nasty and bitter on the nipple of the bottle every time they ask for it, such as lemon juice or pepper or something you know they don’t like.
  • If all else fails, don’t offer milk anymore until they’re ready to drink it from a bottle. Children need 16oz of milk a day. Keep in mind milk isn’t only in “milk” form. If they are getting a serving of cheese and a yogurt in the day, they’re set. If we’re taking milk out of the diet, we can cook with milk, offer dairy in other sources, or sneak it in to homemade fresh fruit smoothies. They don’t actually need to be drinking straight milk persay.

Whatever way you choose to try and work on gradually, there are three things to do immediately. If you are offering anything other than milk or water in the bottle, stop. If you are giving juice or other sugar beverages in it, it’ll only increase their risk of dental problems and will only attach them to it more. If you are resorting to putting chocolate or strawberry syrup in the milk 2-3 times a day to get them to drink it from the cup, stop. As stated, it’s better to not do straight milk at all then to start a new bad habit. If you’re letting them fall asleep with the bottle in their mouth, stop.  After just a few short hours of snooze time, acid from the sugar in milk will already start to effect teeth and could start decay. You’d be surprised how many two year olds I have in my office who already have decayed hour-glass shaped teeth, sometimes already cavity filled and broken down from falling asleep with the bottle of milk. Make sure when they drink and are ready for bed, you’re wiping the sugars off their gums, tongue and teeth before they actually fall asleep. The sooner they’re off the bottle, the better. The longer they’re on it, the more attached they’ll get to it.

Good luck and let the weaning begin!

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Life’s Lessons

We were all children once. We got hurt many times, just to take the same fall and feel the same pain all over again. And we did it again and again and again. We jumped. Sometimes without looking where we’d fall. We never thought about breaking at the bottom, just about the possibility of flying. We had hope that the next time we’d succeed. We’d grab the handlebars, scraped knuckles and all, and give it another shot. Until finally…we flew.

And as we live and grow, we “learn” to be cautious. We “learn” to not get hurt again. We learn to protect our hearts. That everyone will hurt us eventually, most every fanatical wish will fail. We learn to keep our dreams limited, more realistic and safe. We learn to trust only ourselves. To not completely let anyone in. To keep our walls up.

And why?

We learn to live in fear? To live a life of restraint, bound down by CAUTION tape? To clip our wings and ground ourselves because the winds may be too strong to take on? To only kind of, sort of live the life we truly want? Since when did life become so scary? We’ve all been hurt in one way or another. We took a leap of hope and we fell and broke from it. A broken heart by someone who found it before the designated owner did. A broken dream before we realized there was something better we never thought to wish for. We put our everything into something we lost until we feel we lost everything. And what do we do as a result? We guard ourselves and step down. We become smarter we think. We limit ourselves, take caution. We hold ourselves back?

But why?

Instead, we get hurt and we “learn” to keep smiling through it. To keep trusting, to keep loving fully, to not give up on ourselves. We may think we found what or who we were looking for, only to be let down. But giving up doesn’t get you any closer. The world is not a mean place; it holds some mean people and unfortunate circumstances. But it also holds wonderful people you have yet to meet and wonderful opportunities. It’s not the world that would be our enemy, sometimes our worst enemy can be ourselves. Sure, consider consequences and take the smart steps in life, but never dull your senses due to past pain. It’s never a mistake to love too strongly, dream too deeply, trust too openly, or speak too honestly. It’s a mistake to “learn” to repress it.