There Is Enormous Pressure to Stop Bottle-Feeding My Baby

Being a Mom 20

When did it become a rule that once a child turns a year old, giving them formula from a bottle is frowned upon? We recently celebrated our daughter's 1 year birthday. And before I even had time to absorb the fact that our baby is now a 1-year-old (I mean, where the hell did that first year go?), I was being encouraged to stop giving her the bottle. Immediately.

For real?

I had planned to breastfeed my child for at least six months. I had actually hoped to be one of those moms who could breastfeed for a full year, although I questioned my level of dedication at being able to stick with it for that long. I know I would've felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride if I had been able to do so. But then the whole cancer-chemotherapy thing got in the way.

Fortunately, I found a milk donor who was able to provide donor breastmilk for the first three month's of Maggie's life. As a supplement to the donor milk, and as her primary source of sustenance once we stopped receiving donor breastmilk, we gave our daughter formula in a bottle.

As our daughter has gotten older and started eating baby food, then table food, the amount of formula she takes in a day has lessened. She has gone from taking 32 or so ounces of formula in a day to maybe 16 ounces. But she still takes a bottle at night before bed, and usually one in the afternoon when we pick her up from daycare. 

From the beginning, we provided her teachers at Montessori daycare with bottles and formula to give Maggie throughout the day as appropriate. We noticed that as she ate more table food, the amount of formula she consumed during the day declined. But she would still take a few ounces a couple of times during the day as a supplement to solid food.

When we took our daughter to the pediatrician for her one-year check-up, her doctor told us that she'd like to see Maggie weaned off of formula and the bottle by her 15-month check-up. The reasons she gave were that, now that Maggie has a few (six, to be exact) teeth, a bottle was not great for her teeth, nor was falling asleep after immediately consuming formula (without brushing her teeth). Although it seemed like a big step, this made sense to us. 

She also said that she felt it was time to gradually introduce into Maggie's diet some form of milk as a replacement for formula. (We're opting for goat's milk rather than cow's milk, because we feel it's easier for humans to digest.) Again, this made sense. I felt a bit of melancholy at the thought of our little girl passing such a big milestone, but I was glad we had three months for all of us to adjust to the change. I could handle it.

Then, at school the following week, Maggie's teacher (whom we love, by the way) very kindly and gently told us that, now that she was 1, they were going to stop giving her the bottle at school. "What you do at home is your business," she said, "but we're going to stop giving them to her here." 

Now, I'd be lying if I said this didn't create some anxiety for me. The thought of my daughter being denied a bottle before she was ready was unsettling. I also didn't like the idea of anyone telling us how and when we would wean our daughter. After all, some moms choose to breastfeed their children long past a year, right? And no one tells them what to do.

More than a week has passed since the conversation with the teacher, and we've had time to better process the information. I've spoken with other moms and done my own research. What I now realize is that Maggie already began the weaning process, on her own. And once I brought goat's milk to school for Maggie instead of formula, there were no problems. Her daily report simply notated "milk" instead of "formula". The transition, very fortunately, has been relatively seamless. If she had a problem with it, it would be a different story.

We still give her bottles at night and sometimes in the morning. But we're noticing that she is less interested in them and often tosses them aside. We also notice that she usually seems just as happy with a cup or a glass.

So maybe I was the one who had the problem with the idea of weaning. After all, if my child doesn't mind, why should I?

I don't ever want to hold back my child because I'm not ready for her to move forward. I want her to be able to progress on her own, with no hindrances from me. It all just goes by so quickly, sometimes I want it to slow down. But above all else, I want my child to thrive and succeed.

I know she won't be a baby forever. But she'll always be my baby.

 

Images via Mark Montgomery

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Prett... PrettyGirlMyers

This is not a new practice at all. It's very common to start weaning kids off the bottle and formula as they transition from infants toddlers.

jrphelps jrphelps

My son is 18 months old & gets his milk in a bottle.  I don't really care what others say, even the dr.  We take care of his teeth & it's what he enjoys.  He will probably be my only child & I am not about to rush him to grow up.  He will drink out of a sippy cup too, but he likes his milk in a bottle.  When he turns 2 I will wean him off the bottle.  He stopped taking his binky on his own between 8 & 9 months & I see kids up to & over 3 years old with binkies, so what is the big deal with bottles.  Plus he is a picky eater & sometimes it's the only way to get his calories & nutrition.

allge... allgeminis

I agree with not holding your child back because you aren't ready, but if your child isn't ready, that is a different story. I have 3 daughters and each of them loved their bottles. They did what your daughter did with self weaning, but I didn't take them away completely until they were 2 because it stressed them out so much - they weren't ready.  And, I did the same with their pacifiers. Yes, I got a lot of criticism and looks from others, but their teeth are just fine, they're emotionally ok and adjusted and while it may have looked odd, they were and are happy kids who let go of these things when they were ready and understood. I don't regret it. You need to follow what feels right for you and your child because there is always going to be someone who tells you that you are doing it wrong.

miche... micheledo

It's ridiculous.  Why are formula companies making toddler formula?  Why do moms nurse past one year?  Duh.  Toddlers benefit greatly from more then just solids/adult food.  They still need the extra nutrients in breastmilk and formula.


Maybe if more people will accept toddlers drinking formula then breastfeeding won't seem as odd too.  Besides, your little one is ONE!!!  How is that any different then yesterday.  24 hours makes such a difference??  


Will the school give her formula in a sippy cup?  Or in a cup?

jec72579 jec72579

When I first started reading the article, I thought "Oh no, not ANOTHER MOTHER trying to hold her child back from a natural growing process". But I was so very nicely surprised that you noticed that babies will naturally wean themselves off on their own, when they are ready. Most times, it is around age 1. That is probably why a lot of people say that this is the time the parents SHOULD do it. But the truth is that when it comes to the "hard" stuff: weaning from bottles to cups, potty training, crawling, walking, and later bike riding, etc., the children do it on their own, mostly, with very little help from us. My son potty trained himself when he was 14 months old. I wasn't ready, but he was. They know when they are ready

Desti... DestinyHLewis

No offense, but WTH kind of daycare tells the MOM what THEY are going to do with YOUR kid? Ummm no. 

nonmember avatar Lbdmom

Neither one of my sons would drink from a bottle ( they both nursed), but whenever I brought my first son in for a check up close to one and after they were adamant about him being off of any bottles. I think it had something to cavities. I don't know, it wasn't a problem for me, because they didn't use one. But I always thought it was strange how strongly the doctor felt about using a bottle after 12 months.

femal... femaleMIKE

I plan to gradually wean from the bottle/breast by 1.    It doesn't mean that they aren't a baby anymore just because they don't use the bottle.  My mother allowed me to stay on the bottle until I was like 3 1/2 years old.  My teeth were horrible.  They had to give me anesthesia in order to fix my teeth because I wouldn't sit still.

nonmember avatar CrystalMP

I understand dropping the bottle, it's the next step after they start getting teeth but the formula thing is your own choice. I was ecstatic after seeing our last bottles go in the trash, my hands are a lot better off now that I'm not washing dishes 6 times a day lol

Maias... MaiasMommy619

Honestly I don't think it's right to take a child off the bottle so young. It gives them nutrition but also comforts them. If people can breastfeed for 2-3 years then that is the difference between bottle feeding and breastfeeding..?? You are still sucking on something to get milk! People are too in a hurry to get these kids to grow up and do adult like things. Not or me.

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