A lovely shout out from across the pond

Dr. Sarah, a British doctor/writer who I’ve come to respect as one of the coolest “pro-breastfeeding, pro-mother” activists out there, wrote this fabulous post in response to last week’s lengthy debate. As I’ve been working on my “mission statement” (thanks to Amber’s wise suggestion), Dr. Sarah’s post hit a nerve (in a good way, like when you get a deep tissue massage and they reach just the right spot in your shoulder blade….). She mentioned it in the comments section of an earlier post, but I wanted to highlight it in separate post, too – because I can’t thank her enough for her eloquent explanation of where I stand, and for taking the time to discuss these issues on her own blog.

I hope you guys will go here and show her some love, too. It’s a great blog, incidentally, so maybe you’ll discover a new favorite while you’re there.

Bottle weaning, take three

I think this is the third post I’ve written on bottle weaning, which is highly ironic, considering that my nearly 19-month-old is still sucking the proverbial (actual, I take that back – the literal, albeit silicone) teat. I just can’t break him of the habit. Granted, as shown in this post from many months back, I am a total pushover. If it’s Fearless Child and I in a battle of wills, I can almost guarantee that FC will win. (Althought lately I’ve been becoming a formidable opponent. I’ve found that if I pretend to cry, it usually stops him in his tracks. Not because the thought of his dear mother in tears disturbs him, but because he finds it hilarious, and the racous laughter usually distracts him from whatever mischeif was brewing.)

So, this post will have to be filed in the “do as I say, not as I do” category. I can’t say I have tried all of the following techniques, or followed through with them to any significant degree, but apparently, they’ve worked for a lot of other folks (who are presumably stronger than I, or maybe they just have less-stubborn babies. At least that’s what I tell myself so I won’t cry. For real, not just to fake out my son.)

First things first: Pre-weaning

Common wisdom is that you start with the sippy cup around 6-8 months, in the hopes that by the one year mark, you can rip the bottles out of your child’s tiny hands and replace it with your sippy of choice without much drama. At my house, the sippy was a hit, but more as a toy than a drinking device. FC could handle it just fine (the kid was holding his own bottles by 5 months), but he had more interest in holding the cup upside down to see if he could spill its contents, or taking the darn thing apart (his favorite game as an infant was to take apart the ten zillion pieces of his Born Frees and putting them back together. I know adults who can’t figure those blasted discs out – ahem, my mom- but they were no match for FC’s nimble little fingers). After a few months, he would actually take a few sips from a few specific sippies, but when he wanted comfort or a real drink, it was “BABABABBABAAAA”, all the way.

Which brings me to….

Finding the right transitional cup

Contrary to what I thought the first time I waltzed over to the baby aisle at Target, there are about 1000 different types of “transitional cups”. These include your generic sippies (both hard and soft spout, slow and fast flow); straw cups, sports sippers, and other weird contraptions that I think were just jazzed up sippies. We had the best luck with the hard-spout Playtex sippies and these awesome Nuby sports sippers, which I love because a) they are a cinch to clean, with only two parts (no valves, separate straws, or anything else prone to mold due to insufficient cleaning – otherwise known as the “rushed-mom” method, because who the heck has time to take apart and individually clean all those parts with different nipple brushes and other sponge apparati when your child doesn’t nap for more than 30 minutes a day); b) they come with covers, saving you from the inevitable diaper-bag juice drenching; and c) for some reason, my bottle-loving kid found the drinking method associated with these cups to be satisfactory. Sold.

Now, I should disclose that we have quite the collection of sippies on our counter, because I developed a little sippy problem – I mean, who knew which one could be the one, the one that would help us do away with the bottle and consequently save my child from a certain fate of tooth decay and speech impediments? What’s another ten bucks here or there? Right? (Please back me up here; it’s still a source of contention between me and Fearless Husband).

Point being, it might take several tries before you find the right transitional cup. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Just becasue one doesn’t work for your kid, it doesn’t mean none will.

Now for the fun part: The Actual Weaning

According to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, your child is ready to be weaned off the bottle between 12-18 months, once s/he is showing the following signs:

  • Can sit up by themselves
  • Can eat from a spoon
  • Show more interest in solid foods
  • Have an established routine for mealtimes

Umm. Yeah. Well, here’s the thing: FC has been sitting up on his own since 4 months; eating from a spoon from about 6, and eats like a champ, when he wants to. I wouldn’t say he has an “established routine” for mealtimes; usually I get a bowl of cereal and a bunch of fruit into him in the morning, and we do a nice healthy dinner at night, but in between… it’s lucky if I can get a handful of edamame and some peas into the kid. Still, I think we fulfilled most of these requirements by about 6 months old. So how come, more than a year later, he still won’t hand over the damn bottle?

Oh, right. This isn’t about me. Onward.

Most reputable sites suggest waiting for a “non-stressful” time to start the weaning process. I think this is where most parents probably hit their first weaning roadblock. When is it not a stressful time for a baby or toddler? Between teething, “wonder weeks”, parents going back to work, changes of daycare providers, sleep issues, illnesses… there just never seems to be a perfect time to start a potentially problematic process. But if you can muster the courage, here’s the system that seems to have worked for most people I’ve talked to:

1. Start by only offering the sippy at mealtimes. Still use the bottle for bedtime/naptime and other times of “comfort”.

2. Every week, replace one bottle feeding with a sippy cup, working up to eventually dropping all bottle feedings except the bedtime one, if this is an integral part of your bedtime routine.

3. If your child needs to suck for comfort and won’t take a pacifier, try giving him/her a bottle of just water, and save the milk or juice for the sippies. This way, they’ll start to identify nourishment with the sippy, and just comfort with sucking. This should at least make it easier for you to cut most bottle feedings out of your routine, and if they’re just sucking on water, you don’t need to worry about tooth decay.

4. If you’re also weaning from formula to milk, start by adding incremental amounts of milk to the formula every feeding. This will help your child get used to the taste. You can start giving whole cow’s (or goat’s) milk after your child’s first birthday. For those with dairy intolerances or who are trying to raise their children vegan, there are plenty of great milk substitutes out there – rice, oat, hemp and nut (as long as your child doesn’t have a nut allergy). You can use the same system with any type of milk substitutes – I added just an ounce of oat milk to FC’s formula at first, and then slowly increased it. This portion of weaning went a lot more smoothly than I’d expected, especially as he really liked the taste of his new “milk”. I’ve heard that a lot of kids don’t love milk at first, but don’t stress too much about this – you can always get dairy in their diets through other sources, like cheese or yogurt. If you’ve weaned off the bottles, then you can just give them water (or diluted juice) for beverages, or try one of the aforementioned milk substitutes for added nutrition if their solid foot diet is lacking.

Enough about you…back to me and my problems

We started off well in our weaning endeavors. I followed all the rules above, but every time I tried to substitute the sippy for the bottle, FC would throw the cup on the floor and scream bloody murder until I gave in to his demands. Chatstising myself in the process, I’d hand him a bottle and promsie to start fresh tomorrow. My babysitter and husband had no better luck. FC beat us all down.

The thing is, the bottle was a really amazing crutch for us when my son was about 6-17 months. It was the only thing that promised us 2-3 minutes of respite – time enough to shower or shovel food down our throats. In the car, it would guarantee a peaceful ride. And to be fair, we do give him water a lot of the time; it’s not always his “milk” (which is a combination of unsweetened Almond Breeze and organic oat milk, so not as high calorically or fat-wise as regular milk – he’s not “filling up” on the bottles, really). But now that we can reason with him (which also means he can talk back, so I’m not sure how productive that reasoning will ever be), I think it may be time to try this weaning thing again.

FFF Lillily recently suggested switching to a low-flow nipple, so that FC will get so frustrated with the speed of his chosen liquid delivery system that he’ll lose interest in the bottle. It’s a clever theory. I may give it a try. Or I may just do the cold turkey thing and prepare for a day or two of hell. Do they do Ferber for bottle weaning?

I’d love to hear your weaning success stories… and any suggestions anyone has for getting an older, extremely smart, stubborn, and bottle-loving child off the sauce. Bring on the tough love, folks. I’d like to get this kid off the bottle before I have a new one to deal with, dig?

FFF Friday: “I just thought, go for it!”

This week’s FFF Friday tackles a subject that is not often discussed – relactation. I found Malika’s story so inspiring, a true testament to the fact that there is no one-size fits all recipe for infant feeding, and that there can be such a thing as a “second chance”.


Feeding my child has been a long haul.

I had my baby March 8, 2010 via c-section. I was worried about whether or not I could breastfeed because I wasn’t knowledgeable about c-sections, and I heard horror stories about them. I was very happy when the nurse told me I could. She latched right on, no problems, just like my first daughter, who is now 12 years old.

I never had problems breastfeeding my first daughter. I didn’t prepare for any other options for this child (bottlefeeding and formula) because I knew I would breastfeed. I didn’t even buy any bottles, for what? I was breastfeeding, just like I did with my first.

Back to my youngest daughter. In the hospital, the lactation consultant would come in every day and check my baby’s latch. She was doing great! All was good with the world, which was exactly what I’d expected. I read the stories of moms who didn’t make enough milk, whose milk never came in, went through pain, etc. I knew I wasn’t going to be one of those moms because my first daughter was so easy, and this one was starting out easy too.

Then, we got thrush.

When I say that pain was indescribable, I mean it! We both would cry every time it was time to feed her. The skin on my nipples was literally ripped off. I was already on major painkillers for the c-section, but they weren’t touching this pain. Still, I kept at it for as long as I could.

Then, my oldest daughter and husband begged me to stop trying to breastfeed because they could see the pain I was in. They also saw the way my youngest was crying. I finally gave in and let my husband give my daughter a bottle. I couldn’t even watch. It broke my heart. Now, I wasn’t crying from the physical pain, but from the pain of feeling like I was a failure.

So, I said to myself, it’ll just be a couple of bottles until my nipples heal and we get rid of the thrush.

Then, I got mastitis.

I felt feverish, achy, hot spells, cold spells, the works. It was horrible! I didn’t know enough (because breastfeeding had come so easy before) to know that if I breastfed on the side that was infected, that could actually help. I also had degenerating fibroids, which left me very nauseous. I couldn’t keep down any food for a few days. I was only eating toast and tea. Dealing first with thrush, mastitis, degenerating fibroids, and a depressed mood while recovering from a c-section proved to be too much for me. At this point, I thought about giving up breastfeeding. I was down on myself and felt like even more of a failure then I did before. I NEVER went through these problems with my first daughter, and I didn’t understand why I was going through them now.

It especially hurt when I fiinally did watch my daughter take the bottle. She took it with such ease and seemed so content. This is when I made the final decision to give up breastfeeding.

So, for about 2 months, I formula fed. I would agrue online with breastfeeding advocates who tried to make formula feeders feel bad (of course this isn’t true of most breastfeeding advocates, I know). To me, they couldn’t understand the heartache a mom goes through who wants to breastfeed but can’t. I would know, I used to be one of those moms to whom breastfeeding came easy.

Two months went by and I went back to work. I felt better both physically and emotionally and read up on formula feeding and breastfeeding. I thought about relactation, but wasn’t quite sure if I should try. Then I just thought, go for it! I feel better, so I don’t have any illness that would hinder me.

And so I did. I got a prescription of Reglan from my doctor, I looked into herbs, I rented a hospital grade pump, and I reserached relactation. I tried to latch my baby on, but she would only latch for a few minutes and become frustrated. Teaching her to latch is still a work in progress, so I pump my milk. I started out with only a couple of drops of breastmilk a day. Six weeks or so later, I’m up to 8 oz. a day.

Of course, 8 oz. isn’t enough to feed my baby, so I supplement with formula, and I am very satisfied with this. I am grateful that I don’t look down on formula, I am grateful that I’m able to give her 2 bottles of breastmilk a day, and I’m especially grateful that I no longer carry around the guilt of not being able to exclusively breastfeed. I can say now that I know the heartache of a woman who wants to breastfeed but can’t. We all do the best we can for our babies, breast or bottle fed. I just wish everyone would recognize the plight of a woman who has struggled.


Have a story you’d be willing to share with the FFF audience? Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com. Sharing is caring, as they say.

FFF Friday: “I just thought, go for it!”

This week’s FFF Friday tackles a subject that is not often discussed – relactation. I found Malika’s story so inspiring, a true testament to the fact that there is no one-size fits all recipe for infant feeding, and that there can be such a thing as a “second chance”.  


If you have a story you’d be willing to share with FFF readers, please email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com. Sharing is caring, as they say (who is “they”, by the way? That always puzzles me….).

Second chances: the possibility of relactation

I received a unique and (in my opinion) inspiring FFF Friday submission today, which I will be posting tomorrow. Spoiler alert – it’s about relactation. And while I’ve touched upon this issue in the past (usually in a more negative light, in response to statements from UNICEF and other organizations that believe encouraging grandmothers and neighbors to learn to re-lactate is a humane replacement for RTF formula in disaster situations), we’ve never discussed it as a possibility for mothers who are still mourning the loss of a breastfeeding relationship.

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