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Giving Up the Bottle

Now that the Pumpkin is 2 (25.5 months, to be exact) and the baby boy is on the way, we are moving up our efforts to transition her from the bottle. For the past however-many-months, she has gotten a bottle only for naps and at bedtime. But I we felt it was time to get her off the bottle completely.

It's not just that we are sick of washing all those bottles and hope for a break before the boy will need them. It's not just because we worry about her wanting to take her brother's bottles. It's not just that her pediatrician would like us to transition her from the bottles because of whatever "dental" reason she thinks it's important (I'm sure it is important for many kids and not for others, like most recommendations). It's also the fact that when the Pumpkin is completely exhausted and looks like she's going to fall asleep, she fights it to keep drinking the bottle and when she's done with the bottle, she's up! She seems to think the rest she gets while drinking her bottle is enough, so she doesn't need to nap or go to sleep. This has gotten more and more frustrating for us.

So, we have been giving her less and less in her bottles at night until she was down to 2 ounces last week. I would tell her that she's getting "just a little bit of milk tonight." Sometimes she would ask for more, sometimes she'd be fine with it. Either way, she got only 2 ounces.

Then, on Saturday, we tried without a bottle for bedtime. It was not a success, I believe for two reasons. 1) We didn't talk enough about it to prepare her. 2) And more importantly, she didn't take a nap that day. Oh, that bedtime sucked big time, and we ended up getting a bottle with 2 ounced of milk. But Sunday night went well when Londo put her down for bed because I had actually gotten her to nap that day! Monday, the nanny was sick, and she wouldn't nap for Londo, so that was another night that was heading down to big ole Suck Street. Realizing that (as Londo had said about Saturday and that day) it was probably not the best night to stick to the no-bottle plan, I just offered her a bottle early on in trying to get her to sleep. After a big "No bottle!"/"I want bottle!"/"No bottle!"/"I want bottle!" tantrum, she ended up picking up the bottle herself and drinking about an ounce as she drifted off into exhausted sleep.

Last night, she did pretty well when I put her down without the bottle. I remembered to talk about it right after dinner and continued to remind her until bedtime. She asked for the bottle only a few times right as we were getting into bed. After the lights were off, she played a bit but came to bed without too much delay. She used to play or fidget or fuss or whatever for an hour or more after her bottle. Without the bottle on the two days she did have a nap, it's taken us just under an hour to get her to bed.

I have high hopes that she will be able to adjust within a couple of weeks--at least to bedtime. We and the nanny are only just starting to transition her from the bottle at naptime. The nanny and her magic ways of getting the Pumpkin to take naps always gives her a bottle, and the Pumpkin usually goes to sleep before she finishes it. For the nanny, because it usually doesn't work for Londo or me. I wanted to get the Pumpkin used to going to sleep without the bottle at night before we worked on naptime. But I am having the nanny go down to 3 ounces at naptime. We'll see how it goes.

Wish us luck! Because the Pumpkin is totally getting sick now, and she has never been easy to get to sleep! If all else fails, we will totally go back to the bottle and just let her have it until she is okay being done with it. Luckily, her communication skills and ability to understand is on the high side of the bell curve, so we have been able to talk to her about it and she seems to get it. Because of where she is currently in her development, we think she can handle it. But time will tell.


Mama (Stacy) said…
We just got LG off the bottle as well. (she will be 2.5 in May) We dropped down to only using bottles at nap and bedtime when she was 18 months old but we had hung on to those two last bottles for a long time.

We handled the transition like this:
LG and mommy took a special trip to Target and picked out very special BIG GIRL cups for LG. She selected Dora. When we got home we packed up all the bottles and put them away. Then we got to use our very special big girl cups to drink while mommy or daddy reads a story before bed. Since she has to sit up to drink out of them (they are straw cups) we don't have any sleeping while she is drinking (not that she did with the bottle anyway). It doesn't eliminate milk from the bedtime routine but it easily got rid of the bottles and we brush her teeth after she drinks the milk to avoid our doctor having any issue with it. Some days (like when she has a really big lunch) she doesn't want the milk at nap so I let her skip it. I do think she needs the calories from her milk on most days. Just thought that I would give you another option besides cutting the milk entirely.

Good luck to you it sounds like there is a lot of big girl stuff happening around your house!
caramama said…
@Mama - Great tips! Thanks! I hadn't thought about giving her some while we read a book. To be honest, she rarely sits still for books at bedtime anymore. She'd rather CLIMB! and JUMP! and do other things to get herself all worked up. Ugh. Also, I'm glad to know that my over-two year old isn't the only one that was still on a bottle. :-)

Don't worry, we aren't cutting out the milk entirely. We now give her a sippy cup of milk with dinner and she continues to drink it after dinner while we watch Dora or Diego together as some down time/cuddle time before the bedtime routine. We've also been giving her a sippy of milk in the morning. We may start having one at lunch, too. We also use special sippy cups, and she gets to pick if she wants "green milk," "pink milk" or "purple milk" which are the colors of the cups.
I'm Not Skippy said…
You make me so happy we expelled the bottles when our MonkeyBear was one. As cows milk arrived the bottles left.
Cloud said…
Good luck. We had a heck of a time switching from bottles to sippy cups at day care, but once that was done, she never really wanted a bottle again.

Our Pumpkin will sometimes decide she wants a specific sippy cup for some reason. "No, Mommy. Don' wan' blue sippy cup. Wan' ORANGE sippy cup." I can't figure it out, but usually go with it if she doesn't ask to change too many times.Good luck. We had a heck of a time switching from bottles to sippy cups at day care, but once that was done, she never really wanted a bottle again.

Our Pumpkin will sometimes decide she wants a specific sippy cup for some reason. "No, Mommy. Don' wan' blue sippy cup. Wan' ORANGE sippy cup." I can't figure it out, but usually go with it if she doesn't ask to change too many times.
Shellie said…
Sounds like it's going pretty well, actually. You can also try switching to water in the bottle, it's a little easier quit water than milk. Try giving her a little milk about 1/2 hour before she goes down and then putting a few ounces of water in the bottle. She might not even drink it, but feel she has something of a compromise just by having it available. It's so great she understands well for her age, it makes things MUCH easier, believe me!
electriclady said…
So funny you posted this today--we just had a "bye-bye bottles" party this afternoon. We were down to one bottle of milk at bedtime and a bottle of water in the middle of the night. The last week or so we've been talking up how we were going to have a party to say bye bye to bottles, and that after the party she wasn't going to have bottles anymore. A couple nights ago I was out with friends and my husband got BG to go to bed without her bottle--she wasn't falling asleep with it, but it was a big part of the evening routine (I have to say I will miss the snuggle time!). Once we knew she would go to bed without it, we decided to do the party--we invited friends over, I made chocolate cupcakes (her request), and even let her have a candle to blow out. She helped me pack up the bottles and our friends took them when they left (we told her they were throwing them away but I'll go over there later and get them back to Freecycle).

She did ask for her bottle tonight but I reminded her that we said bye bye to the bottles and she didn't protest anymore. The tough one will be the middle of the night--but I've occasionally been able to get her down with a sippy of water, so I know she can do it.

Good luck! BG is almost exactly the same age as Pumpkin (27 months next week) and we had that "staying awake for the bottle" problem for a while too, so I feel your pain.

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