The other day I innocently posted a photo of my toddler on Instagram. He was fighting nap time, I was impossibly tired, and, at the time, I didn't think there was anything particularly controversial about the picture or post. Turns out, I was wrong. Apparently, the fact that I still let my toddler have a bottle is a major parenting faux pas. Too bad, I guess, because I absolutely refuse to make my 1-year-old stop using a bottle for a variety of really good reasons.
Now, I know doctors and dentists recommend that your baby stop drinking from a bottle by their first birthday. While that advice might make sense for some kids, mine is not ready to break free of his bottle habit. You see, he can drink out of a cup, just not all that well. We're working on it, OK? We give him a cup of water or formula at every meal, and he drinks some of it, but then it generally ends up on the floor. He is a toddler after all. To make mealtime even more complicated, he has food allergies, which means that he can't eat everything a typical toddler eats. As a result he still gets hypoallergenic formula every single day, per his doctor's orders, to ensure that he gets what he needs to grow and thrive.
Plus, and I'm not going to lie, giving him a bottle of formula is easier. I'm not ashamed to do something that gets the job done, that he enjoys, and that makes my life as a mom easier. So, instead of stressing about it, I've grown to love bottle-feeding. I try to view bottle-feeding him the same way I viewed breastfeeding my older son — as long as it's mutually desirable, I'm not going to force my kid to wean before they are ready. I don’t see my toddler still using a bottle any differently than someone else's toddler breastfeeding after age 1. It's a personal choice, and it works for us.
So, for now at least, I’m not taking away my 1-year-old's bottle, for so many reasons including the following:
Because He Loves It
My son loves his bottle. We've tried to introduce different loveys, but he loves that damn thing more than just about anything else. His big brother was the same way. I don't know if it's the act of snuggling with mom, the beverage, or the bottle itself, but his bottle-feeding time is beloved.
Because He Still Drinks Formula
Because of my son's food allergies, feeding him is a constant struggle. He still gets hypoallergenic formula every single day, just to make sure he gets enough calories and the right nutrients. Honestly, it’s a heck of a lot easier to feed him with a bottle, than to hope that he gets enough solid food and formula at mealtime.
Because He's Healthy
As much as I try to always follow health guidelines and medical advice, I let this one thing slide. I know our dentist probably wouldn't approve, but I'm comfortable letting my son use a bottle, anyway. I brush his teeth several times a day, especially after every bottle, and hope I'm doing the right thing.
Because I Love The Snuggles
Giving him a bottle is magical. He's my last baby, and the idea that someday soon he won't want to snuggle with me anymore is kind of breaking me. I literally don't know which bottle will be his last, so I'm savoring every snuggle and every bottle that makes that extra snuggle possible.
(well, except the times when he grabs the skin on the underarm, because OMG it hurts.)
Because He’s Not Ready
By far, the most important reason why I will absolutely not force this issue is because my son simply isn't ready. As a general rule, I don't force my kids to do things that make them uncomfortable or that they aren't ready for. This isn't any different.
Because I Don’t Think It Really Matters
My daughter gave up her bottle when she was around 18 months old, and without a fight. My older son still wanted a bottle at bedtime until he was almost 3. I didn't make a big deal about it, and neither of them uses a bottle today. I know that my youngest will be ready to give his up, too.
Because I’m Not Ashamed Of Bottle-feeding
I used to be so ashamed of bottle-feeding. For real. I would rather hide in the bathroom to feed my baby than risk the chance of being on the receiving end of judgmental comments or questions. Guys, I don't have a single picture of me giving my older kids a bottle. That makes me so sad. I am so over the shame I once felt about using formula or bottles to feed my baby.
Because It's Working For Us
Over the years I've learned a thing or two about feeding toddlers, including the undeniable fact that t's a challenge. The truth is, what works today may not tomorrow. Some days I wonder if my son will eat anything at all, or if most of what I feed him will end up on the floor or in his hair. Other days, I swear he eats more than I do. It's so frustrating. If it wasn't for bottles of formula, I would worry about him not getting enough to eat.
As long as it's working for us I plan to continue giving him bottles, even if it makes people think I'm a "bad mom." I've reached a point in my life where those comments don't hurt anymore, especially when I see how healthy and happy my kids are.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.