I have had a number of questions this week from parents whose young children with whom i have been working. I will have to address them in updates to this post so look out for them One at a time…..The latest one was this afternoon: how to go about getting rid of bottle feeds. This became a very emotional one because the baby is “so young” – this child will be two by the end of the month. Not everyone at home is ready to give it up.
First – you need to understand something. Surprise! Sucking is a skill that we develop in-utero. By six weeks infants in utero are sucking and swallowing amneotic fluid which is present in the womb. They absolutely have to do this in order to survive. If not, then they would drown. There is nothing essential about even giving an infant a bottle! You can actually start an infant on a cup. Ask me if you need references related to cups that you can use. I would rather you connect with me and then we could discuss your specific child’s situation.
Okay…most parents have their child using a bottle and i assume that you are one of them. I for one do not see any infants who avoided a bottle at birth. Have you? So, then the question becomes how to get rid of it as your child becomes a toddler.
First – be ready for a bit of fussing from your child. They’re hooked if you have not tried a different type of holder for liquid presentation. Recognize that if your child is holding a bottle – holding the nipple between their teeth that this poses a choking hazard. You MUST get rid of the bottle. If that nipple is bitten off it could lodge in your child’s throat. This could cause a call to 911 and an emergency room visit. Understand that continued use of the bottle will undermine your child’s efforts at developing the smaller muscles that are used for speech development. Using a cup forces you to close your lips over the rim. When we use the /m/, /b/ or /p/ our lips are closed, for example.
Secondly – Don’t struggle with your child; but throw the responsibility – sneakily, onto them. How??? With the guiidance of your pediatrician – I want to make sure that this is not contradicting their assessment of your child’s nutritional needs – start adding some water to the bottle and lesssening the amount of milk that you are giving your child….two ounces of water and six ounces of milk..then gradually reducing the amount of milk further every few days. As we do not want to compromise nutrition, my recommendation would be to have the milk available – but in a cup with a straw – not a sippy cup. The drug store has cups like this designed for children that have a pop up straw that can pop down into the cup with the slide of a cover, after that child is finished drinking. Again. please check with your doctor.
I am curious to hear how you make out. Would you please comment to this post, tweet me on twitter, like my FB fan page at robin sue kahn-speech-languageg pathologist, look me up on linked in. i look forward to hearing back from you!!