The case for extended bottle feeding

Back in 2010, I wrote three posts about bottle weaning (here, here, and here) where besides offering practical advice,  I admitted to being an abject failure at getting FC to give up the bottle. It actually took another year to get him off the damn things completely; he still insisted on having a bedtime bottle of almond milk until the eve of his third birthday, when he handed me his weathered Born Free (hey, I wasn’t about to buy him a new one. That would be permissive parenting) and announced that “three-year-olds don’t use bottles.” True enough, son.

What I didn’t write in those posts was the sacred promise I made to myself that next time – if there were a next time – I wouldn’t be caught in the same position. If I ended up bottle feeding the next child, s/he would be weaned onto a sippy cup by 9 months. No teary battles, no negotiation (I think FC managed to weasel about 10 new Thomas trains out of me while I tried to bribe him out of his bottle addiction), no long, drawn-out process. I’d be a stronger parent. I’d lay down the law. My second child would be way easier to deal with, because statistically, people who have a difficult baby the first time around have an easy one the next. That’s a scientific fact, my friends.

Obviously, that was before I met Fearlette.

Fearlette is a tough chick, at the tender age of 17 months. Her favorite color is black. She tortures our dog and laughs when he nips her in self-defense. She kicks her older brother’s ass on a daily basis. And she is not going to give up her bottle without a fight.

I tried to keep my promise, I really did. I swore up and down I wouldn’t allow her to use the bottle as a nighttime crutch, but then my husband started working nights, I was pulling double duty, and it was the only way she’d sleep. I wouldn’t let her have a bottle in the car, but I gave in the second time I got pulled over for hazardous driving because she was screaming so loudly I thought she’d have an aneurism.

I introduced the sippy cup early, and considering she could drink from a real cup by herself by the time she was 10 months old, I thought I was in the clear. Yet at 17 months, she still wants her bottle. She doesn’t even drink from it half the time; she drags it around the house with the nipple between her teeth and yells “NO!” if you even talk about taking it away from her. There is no way in hell she’ll go to sleep unless she has three things: her stuffed lamb, a tiny pink Snoopy, and her bottle.

But you know what? I don’t care, and here is why: I’m cool with the idea of child-led weaning. It works for breastfeeding moms, and it can work for bottle feeding moms, too.

For some kids, a bottle is just a means to an end. These are probably the same types of kids who wean from the breast easily. Then there are others who suckle for comfort; those that adore pacifiers or their thumbs or a breast or a bottle. I overheard a woman the other day wistfully wishing that her year-old daughter would be a thumb sucker, because she’d been having to play the role of human pacifier all night long. Breastfed or bottle-fed doesn’t seem to matter as much as whether or not your kid has a built-in oral fixation. (Case in point: Fearlette already bites her tiny nails. If I can keep her away from cigarettes or compulsive gum chewing, I’ll consider myself a success.)

So why the pressure to get kids off the bottle, and not off the breast?

1. They need to be able to use a cup. Fearlette is totally capable of using a sippy cup, water bottle, or coffee mug filled with Mommy’s special “juice”. She wants the bottle when she wants to chill out and chillax. As long as your child has the motor skills necessary to drink from a cup, you’re golden.

2. They need to be able to enter kindergarten with at least some non-decayed teeth. Bottles are notorious for causing tooth decay. However, when you’re talking about one evening bottle (especially if you brush teeth after you baby’s finished), there’s no evidence that this will cause his/her teeth to rot any more so than a toddler who is breastfeeding. There is a theory that the anti-bacterial properties in breastmilk will prevent the bacteria which causes tooth decay, but I can find no real proof that this is true. Also, if you are worried about cavities, my recommendation is to make bottles a water-only experience (this is also a good weaning tip – if you only allow the yummy drinks in cups, kids may start to get the message).

3. They need to not look like chipmunks. Pacifiers and thumb sucking may lead to an overbite, so it stands to reason that the later a child uses a bottle, the more likely he is to need the services of a skilled orthodontist. This poses a philosophical question that only you can answer: at what age would you wean your child off a pacifier or break a thumb-sucking habit? Whatever age that is, it is probably the same point you want to take away the bottle.

4. They need to not be obese/underweight. FC liked to drink his almond milk in bottles so much that he began to want milk rather than food. He dropped so many percentiles that his doctor became concerned and suggested that if we took away the bottles, he’d start eating more. That was when we decided bottles would be for nighttime only. And sure enough, he started eating. (Although he’s still a scrawny little dude, but that’s probably just genetics.) There’s also concern that kids who like to sip on bottles throughout the day will be consuming extra calories from milk or juice. There’s a quick fix for this one – no juice in bottles, and limit the milk (or try unsweetened almond or coconut milk as a substitute – they have no sugar). These solutions have far more to do with healthy eating choices than the apparatus your child chooses to drink from occasionally.

5. They need to get off the bottle before they get old enough to fight you on it. There seems to be this idea out there that the minute kids turn a year, certain things are okay, and others are bad. Just because she’s hit the 12-month mark, now she can have whole milk rather than formula/breastmilk. Honey can be deadly at 11 months and 26 days, but not a few days later, The AAP needs to set out guidelines, but every child is different – and just because your baby’s peers are ready to give up bottles at a year doesn’t mean your baby necessarily is. Feeding time is bonding time for many of us, bottle feeders and breastfeeders alike. My kids knew that bottles = a special time when you are held, kissed, and talked to. As they grew more autonomous and held their own bottles, they still allowed me to hold them and cuddle them while they drank – even at stages when getting them to stay still long enough for a stolen kiss was a feat of epic proportions.

I’m a realist, and I know that at this point, Fearlette’s love for the silicone nipple has more to do with the sucking action than the woman on the other end of it. And it probably has a lot to do with her stubborn streak as well (mommy says I have to give up bottles, so I’m going to do the polar opposite, because I’m a badass). But I’m sure that if I were breastfeeding, and she still wanted to nurse every now and then when she was upset or overwhelmed, I’d let her. Mind you, that’s just me, and my style of parenting. I like to let my kids take the lead on almost everything. This is simply because I am lazy and a pushover, not because I subscribe to any parenting theory that preaches autonomy or what have you. I am more than a little in awe of those of you who simply throw the bottles out one morning and never look back, and I do wish I could be that strong.

But after my experience with FC, I have confidence that most kids know when they are ready to do something, and Fearlette is just not ready. On a daily basis, I am gently trying to encourage her to use a cup, but I realize that in her mind, cups and bottles are not one and the same. A cup is something you drink liquids out of, to quench thirst. A bottle is a source of comfort, and she’s in the midst of a scary and overwhelming time in her life. It’s not easy being 17 months old.

This post turned far more personal than I intended it to be, but what I want to impart to you is that extended bottle feeding is totally okay, as long as you follow the same healthy bottle-feeding habits you always have. Every child is different, and there is nothing wrong with tapering the bottle usage off slowly and humanely. And I promise you that one day, your child will confidently hand you that last bottle on his second/third/fourth/twenty-fifth birthday and tell you he doesn’t need it anymore.

I’m only kidding about the twenty-fifth birthday.

Although I should be careful, because Fearlette does have a rather sick sense of humor….

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.

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48 thoughts on “The case for extended bottle feeding

  1. I totally needed to read this today. My son is just a couple days shy of 18 months and I've been getting a lot of grief lately over the fact that he still drinks a bottle to fall asleep. I've been trying to ignore the comments because they almost always come from a friend that is still nursing her 3 yr old down to sleep at night. But sometimes, they do really get to me. Thanks for the reassurance that at least I'm not alone.

  2. Thankyou for this. As an extended bottle feeder of a nearly 3 and a nearly 2 year old I like to know that I am not the only “lazy… pushover” 😉
    I wrote an article about extended bottle feeding and Early Childhood Caries or “Bottle Rot” which might interested some, so I will leave the link here.
    Again thanks and I raise my toddler's weathered bottle to you.

  3. Oh, you are definitely not alone! And there is no difference on a philosophical level with what you're doing and what your friend is doing. You have NO reason to feel bad. Because if you do, I most certainly do, and I don't need any more guilt! 😉

  4. Great post as usual! One thing I want to ask about though, is the conflicting advice I've been getting re tooth brushing after milk. I was brought up to do this (ie brushing teeth = last thing before bed), and to this day you can still find the message of “brush after meals” etc touted about. However, I was told unequivocally by both my dentist and my child's dentist that this was baaaaad. Apparently eating/drinking softens the enamel of the teeth, so if you then brush within an hour of eating/drinking, you're actually going to damage the enamel. I certainly do have major problems with enamel damage etc – my dentist was gently trying to query if I was bulimic because of the amount of acid erosion which he now puts down to the fact that I (1) have a genetic predisposition to crappy enamel on my teeth and (2) had done damage to it brushing. What he recommends is brush first, then eat, then (for adults and kids who are old enough), use a mouth wash.

    I'm not a dentist, though, so this is purely passing on what I've been told Right now, between a toddler and a growth-spurting 10-week-old baby, I just can't get the time/energy to do some researchering myself 😉

  5. I personally think they should be off the boob or bottle by around age 2.. just my thought on the matter. Sometimes as parents we have to push our kids out of their comfort zone and make them do things so they can grow and thrive.. this is especially true for preschool age kids (ages 3 and over) I have always been opposed to using food for comfort.. so to me comfort nursing is the same as giving a bottle or any food to a child to comfort them. I think it teaches bad eating habits later in life.. we should eat to live not live to eat. I much rather see a child with a pacifier, thumb sucking or have a comfort object at these ages than a boob or bottle in the mouth.. it is so important to teach our children independence and weaning them is often the first step.. some kids self wean before this age or shortly after and I think that is acceptable.. but if they show no urge to then maybe its time to give them a gentle nudge.

  6. Thanks for a brilliant post… My son is only 2 months off three – and the bottle at night is “his thing”. I don't want him to hate milk – thus I let him have a bottle. We got rid of the dummy easy as at 2 years old – he just stopped asking for it… but milk bottles? eeh. I like your view. Thanks!

  7. Yeah, my main concern is that when child goes to sleep with a bottle, we don't get around to brushing after. The ped told us to just transition to milk and water and finally water in the bottle, but she has no children of her own and I'm sure the screaming, swatting bottle aside “I want miiiiilk!! no water!!!” two year old you REALLY want to get to bed at the end of an exhausting day is kind of theoretical to her.

  8. I cannot LOVE this post enough. If a bottle or 2 a day is giving my baby (turning 2 next month) some comfort and enjoyment, I struggle to see the problem with it that others do. Half the time she doesn't even drink it, but watching her cuddle it, and seeing her eyes starting to droop as soon as it's in her arms, well I just see no reason why I should make her give that up just yet. There'll be plenty of time in her (hopefully) long life for sacrificing comfort for the sake of societal judgement. I love the comparison to extended breastfeeding too. Thank you 🙂

  9. Yay for this post! My 11 month old drinks from sippy cups throughout the day but wants his nighttime bottle. I know it is a comfort thing because he gets mad when it's done (despite being so sleepy he can hardly keep his eyes open!). He doesn't suck his thumb or use a pacifier so I consider myself blessed in that regard. I am not worried about weaning him off that nighttime bottle just yet.

    I do know that I was one of those who looked like a chipmunk when I was younger. I had a massive overbite. Some of it was due to genetics but the severity of it probably could be linked to my having a paci until I was 3 (my mom still kicks herself for letting me have it that long and that was almost 30 years ago). I don't want my son to have to go through the headgear/braces debacle as long as I did! Our goal will be to wean nighttime bottle by 2, but at least he isn't on the pacifier…or that's what I tell myself!

  10. My 17.5 mth old still LOVES his bottle. We've tried 7 different sippy cups and he hasn't taken to any of them (whether there is water, juice or milk in them). If I try to put water in his bottle he goes balistic. So we've decided to hold off. We've followed his lead about most other things since he was born (when to stop co-sleeping, naps, eating, etc.) and it's worked really well. I'm hoping the same will happen with the bottle. One day he'll get to the point where he doesn't want it anymore. And if not, we'll reevaluate things around 2.

  11. My daughter still used a bottle intil she was 16 or 17 months and I kept hearing snide little remarks from the in-laws, passive aggressively of course, like “Oh, you don't want that stinky bottle!” or “Here use a cup and be a big girl!”. She's 19 months now and completely off the bottle (she finally stopped around 17 1/2 months) but she still goes to bed with a sippy cup every now and then. I guess some will see it as we traded one evil for another, but I'm okay with it. 🙂

  12. My daughter is 2 years, 3 months, and she is still on the bottle.
    Her brother who is just a year older would not give up the bottle either. Finally the week before he turned three I just told him that he was too big for the bottle. He cried a little bit, but it was a lot less painless than the other bunch of times that I had tried to take it away from him.

    My daughter does not show any signs of giving it up. She only gets the bottle at nap time and bed time.

    About six months ago, I had both children evaluated by the early intervention people. They both have speech problems, but the early intervention people did an overall assessment of their development (which was on target). When they had questioned me about their bottle, they were actually impressed by the fact that my children could soothe themselves. According to them, it is better developmental-wise that the children were “self-soothers” and could use the bottle for that. I had never read that in any of the “no bottle after one” propaganda out there.

    I am very careful to get their teeth checkup every six months by the pediatric dentist. So far their checkups have all been perfect. I think the bottle does 'predispose' them to tooth decay problems (but is not necessarily causal). I just try to keep up with the dentist to catch anything early. (Just my opinion.)

    I have a third baby who is ten months. I doubt that he'll be off the bottle at one year either.

    Good points. You voiced what I was thinking, but never quite expressed.

  13. I understand your sentiment about wanting children to become independent but it actually does not need to be taught. If children are emotionally secure they develop healthy independence naturally and that requires honoring their unique developmental needs. A child does not become suddenly secure without their comfort tools by a certain age. Different families have different stresses and to prematurely force a child into independence has serious psychological ramifications. Different children have different weaning ages, breast or bottle, and if a child is still so attached to their comfort tool past two, there is a valid reason. Looking into the causes of the anxiety would be far healthier and more supportive of their needs than to suddenly force them into a particular behavior in order to suit anyone's idea of independence. The natural weaning age in humans is roughly between 3-4 years of age (based on the loss of their milk teeth, obviously enough) which would explain why so many children still show the need for breastfeeding/bottle-feeding/binky use till about that age. I know it's hard and exasperating to allow children to take the lead when it comes to these seemingly 'baby' behaviours, but there is a reason why it is a reality, as it has its place in healthy development.

  14. I love this post because it presents an approach to honoring children's developmental needs regardless of feeding method. I often notice detrimental parenting practices around bottle-feeding because an entire culture developed around when weaning off of them is appropriate but it is rarely based on a child’s needs and is rather focused on a parents mistaken belief about how independence is nurtured. The same phenomena occurs in breastfeeding circles so forced weaning is not unique. I have noticed that those who try and mimic what a child-led nursing relationship is like produce equally emotionally secure and content children. What is important regardless of approach is honoring each individual child’s needs, and this will vary greatly. I think that the biggest deterrent to this practice is a lack of understanding about healthy child development, but now there is a plethora of information accessible just via the internet about supporting these needs optimally. I’m really glad you presented this topic as a way for bottle-using parents to support their children’s emotional needs just as effectively as having a nursing relationship.

  15. A friend of mine coslept and breastfed throughout the night and her daughter ended up having to have some serious dental work because her teeth were basically crumbling. So much for antidecay properties of breast milk.

    My first had a milk allergy and was underweight and we held off on getting rid of the bottle until he was somewhere after 17 months. I can't remember the exact age (he's 7 1/2 now) but I know he still had it then and I think it was sometime close to that. Anyway, he didn't like the cup as much and desperately needed calories so we stuck with that bottle before bedtime for awhile.

    My second stopped taking a bottle at 6 months, which was a super huge pain in the butt because she was still nursing and I was working one short shift a week. My H would call me to tell me she had refused to drink the pumped milk. He fed her a lot of oatmeal because she would go 5-6 hours without eating otherwise. It took a couple of weeks to get her on the sippy. They are all differerent.

    My SIL gets grief because her 9 month old has little interest in solid food but her best friend's son, who is 2 weeks older, eats all sort of food. However, the older baby has a ton of TEETH and my nephew is still all gums. It seems obvious to me. People like to make judgements before they know all the facts.

  16. I LOVE this post! I'm 41 years old and my last baby (the youngest of 5) is now 15 months old. She was my first bottle fed baby (I nursed the rest of the gang) and after briefly being bullied by a lactation consultant I decided to whole-heartedly embrace this bottle and enjoy its' many benefits. My daughter gets four 5 ounce bottles a day. I intend to keep it that way until sometime between 2 and 3. I figure as long as she is not exceeding the recommended amount of milk and never takes a bottle into bed nobody needs to worry about the teeth/obesity issue. I think she deserves the extended nurturing/cuddling/relaxing with her Mom or Dad just like breastfed babies do, how can that be wrong? It's stressful being a baby before your communication skills are fully developed. She's my last baby and I'm in no rush for her to grow up or be the “super-star” among her baby peers. And honestly, the “authorities” that make up all these guidelines will change their mind 25 times before she goes to college so we will do what feels right and works for us. And like her older siblings, she can keep that Paci until she's 3 or 4 too!

  17. I love this! I recently told my bottle-feeding friend that we “just threw the bottles out” when my baby was a year old – which was true. However! I also told her that I am nursing my 15 month old on demand overnight and on weekends – it is no different than a baby who needs/wants a bottle to go to sleep for nap or at night time. I really don't get the hurry in our culture to take all babyhood away from children the minute they turn 1.


  18. I am so glad that my pediatrician has a child that is one week younger than my oldest. He is so much more realistic now – he said that he used to tell parents all kinds of things were no big deal, but now he understands why those things are so hard.

  19. My friend's little girl recently turned 2 and her health visitor said she is “sending someone around” to help get her off the bottle. I wonder WTH that means and how they're going to do it?

  20. Love this post! My son didn't get off the bottle until he was 1.5 and it was a really slow process. He still uses his paci at 2.5 for going to sleep at night and during rest. I plan on working on weaning him from it slowly but surely as he gets a little older and adapts to his new sister. I know I will approach bottle weaning the same way with our daughter. Green to Grow has a really nice sippy nipple that is silicone just like a bottle, that helped our son transition to the sippy cup and Playtex was the brand he preferred for sippy cups too.

  21. That's the biggest thing that annoys me about weaning–if it's okay for breastfeeding moms to comfort nurse well into the toddler years, what's wrong with a bottle-fed child getting that bottle for comfort? Tooth decay is an issue no matter how your child is fed. ANY food can damage a child's teeth if the teeth are not properly brushed. As far as misalignment, the folks in my family who were breastfed had/have awful alignment, and the folks who were bottle-fed had/have awful alignment. In short: we have bad genes.

    I just get tired of the idea that just because my child was bottle-fed, she is somehow different than other kids and doesn't deserve comfort. That is a cruel attitude, to me–it feels punitive toward families for whom breast was not best or the only answer. I feel my child should not be punished for somehow “not living up” to some stranger's or NGO's or government's expectation, or because I didn't.

  22. My oldest was a pacifier freak; he is almost five and just gave it up about six months ago. The grief I got because of it was unbelieveable. When he was about three years old, one of my familiy members actually called my son disgusting, took the paci out of his mouth, and threw it across the room. I think up until that point I was very self-concisious about his pacifier use, but when I saw how crushed he was and how much confort he got out of that pacifier, my worldview changed. I stoped trying to push him into giving up his paci before he was ready. And when he was, he gave it up without a peep. My younger son LOVES his bottle, and like many of the children I am reading about in this blog, is almost two and still needs a bottle to go to sleep at night. In order to make sure my son's teeth stay healthy, he only gets water at night. Our doctor actually told us as long as he gets mostly water from the bottle (he does), and he knows how to drink from a cup (he also does) then he can have a bottle until college. People focus WAY too much on when kids should be doing things and way too little about their individual lives, and tempraments.

  23. Yeah, as adults we use water bottles, sports bottles, etc that aren't too awfully different than a bottle as far as the sucking mechanism – I have never understood the fuss over giving up the bottle by age one at all costs!

  24. I hate getting comments from random strangers about my son's pacifier use (he is 20 months/16 adjusted due to being born at 24 weeks gestation)…they know NOTHING about his medical history (spending a total of 176 days in 5 different hospitals and 4 different ocassions), and so, I don't give a crap if they think my little one shouldn't be using a paci – his dad and I both had crappy crooked teeth, so I am just resigned to the fact that baby will too at some point. Which means, if he wants his paci until he goes to school, that's fine with me – he has needed to find a way to self-soothe, and his paci is literally his best friend! Two of the hospitals wouldn't allow 'fuzzy' things in the bed due to the inability to completely clean the germs off them, so it was during one hospital stay that he became addicted to the paci.

    My son can have his paci as long as he feels he needs it.

    As for bottles, he is barely 19 pounds and classified as failure to thrive – his stomach is way small for his body, and so he has never drank more than about 5 ounces at a time ever – so he still gets up twice a night to drink between 3-4 ounces of high calorie formula…we can't give him much water because it is empty calories….

    Why am I putting this all here? Just to show that when people make their comments about bottles or pacis or whatever, THEY DON”T KNOW your personal situation, and it is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. The only people I am concerned about their point of view are the doctors that are working to get his weight caught up and keep him healthy. And they aren't worried about bottles as the mode of transfer of calories, nor the paci for soothing.

  25. I've bottled fed one and breastfed two and did child lead weaning with all 3. My oldest weaned from the bottle at about 25 months, my middle weaned from the breast on the eve of her 3rd birthday, and my last is still nursing at 23 months with no signs of stopping anytime soon.

    I got really ugly looks when people found out I was still bottle feeding my son at 18 months old, so I just stopped telling people about it. He only used it for bedtime, so there was never any 'need' for anyone else to know.

    I believe that there are a multitude of reasons to practice extended nursing – most of which have nothing to do with breast milk – and I think those reasons apply to bottle feeding, too.

  26. Great post. With all the talk of extended breastfeeding lately due to the Time magazine cover, I've been thinking to myself and wondering why I feel so much pressure to get her off the bottle when it is obviously a source of comfort and bonding for my daughter, just like nursing is for breastfed kids.

    I always intended to wean her at a year. I started giving her a sippy of water at 6 months. I gave her the sippies with silicone soft spouts so she took to it easily. She didn't pick up the sippy for herself until she was almost a year, but if I held it up for her, she would drink. Then she turned a year. I gradually switched her bottles to whole milk and dropped down to 3 bottles a day. Then once she had gotten used to whole milk, I tried putting it in a sippy cup. No dice. She sucked and made a face like it was disgusting and threw it on the floor. I tried again and again. She refused to drink the milk out of the cup and if I served it with a meal she would scream in thirst until I gave her water.

    I'm sure it doesn't help that she's never been an independent bottle drinker, or showed any inclination toward being one. She doesn't pick up and hold her own bottle. She always has her bottle cradled in someone's arms, with someone else holding the bottle. So I'm sure the comfort aspect is part of it. That being said, I did try to give her a sippy cup of milk with her cradled in my arms, and she didn't go for it. So apparently the slight variation in the shape of the nipple is THAT important to her.

    I kept trying, but every time I tried to replace a bottle of milk with a sippy cup she refused to drink any. It was either bottle or no milk. I spoke with my pediatrician and she said it was ok to keep giving her the bottle until 18 months because she still needs the nutrition from milk. One month to go *gulp*. It's nice to know that extended bottle feeding is not that uncommon. I always feel terribly embarrassed when I whip out a bottle in public (or a jar of baby food, that's a whole nother discussion. Yes, I have the most stubborn, resistant to change baby, ever).

  27. Yes, yes, yes, thank you! I cannot figure out why a pediatrician would say “breastfeed past 1 year or 15 months, but get that child off a bottle by 15 months.” What is the difference? The child gets nourishment and comfort from the breast and from the bottle. I am not debating formula vs. breastmilk vs. cow's milk, I am saying that to the child, it is the same thing.

    I have breastfed (albeit painfully) and I have bottle fed. I honestly felt more bonded when I was bottle feeding because I didn't have the pain. Breastfeeding activists would say I didn't do it long enough to work out all the kinks, maybe that is true. But I know I felt a connection to my kids no matter what the method of feeding.

    My oldest wasn't off the bottle (nap and bed time) until about 2, and my youngest still has bottles at 19 months. I am not going to be so cruel as to force him to give it up when it provides nourishment and comfort, and I am sure that is exactly how breastfeeding moms feel. See, we are more alike than everyone thinks!

  28. I LOVE this, thank you!! Why should extended breastfeeding be the pinnacle of good parenting and yet extended bottlefeeding be villanised?! As a previous poster said, extended breastfeeding isn't just about nutrition so why should bottle feeding be any different?

    As a side note, my youngest sister was breastfed the longest of all of us – until she was about three. My mum had to stop because her teeth were becoming brown.

  29. Amen. My first was formula fed from 3 months on and she was always, always under weight. Every time I went in for checkups it was “if she was half a pound lighter, I would be worried,” etc. I was encouraged to give whole milk way past the normal age and I still give her whole milk at 4 years old because she only weighs 25 pounds. But everyone in my family is short and pretty small. I also gave her a bottle until she was about 2 years old.

    Also, the exclusively breastfed kids of the moms I am friends with are WAY bigger than my 2 kids. So much for the formula-fed babies are obese myth. It is a stereotype for a reason, it isn't always true. A breastfed baby can be heavy and a formula-fed baby can be heavy. Each kid is different. Why can't people understand this?

  30. Yes! So glad I am not alone on this one. If you are doing child-led weaning then it shouldn't matter if it is breast or bottle.

  31. Thank you for this. Actually, thank you for your blog. Love it. As a pediatrician and mom who has IGT…I can oh so relate. And this is perfect. I was an “extended bottle feeder” too. Much to some colleagues and my own child's pediatrician's dismay. The thing is, if I had been successful at BF, my 21 month old would still be enjoying some milk and cuddles in the morning and before bed. No one would blink an eye. So, I let my baby have his bottle of milk and cuddles. Of course, I always brushed his teeth before bed and for heavens sake, he never walked around all day with the thing! Good for you for following your motherly instincts. Honestly, these absolutes just don't “always” fit and it can be so frustrating.
    a Dr. Mom who's been there.

  32. Something else which has just struck my memory (another dentist nugget of knowledge!): A large problem isn't necessarily the food/drink itself, but what the body does to deal with it and the frequency with which that happens. So, whenever the body eats something, saliva + corresponding acids are made to digest it. The more often you eat/drink something (particularly your sugary stuff), the more frequently your teeth are exposed to the potential damage from acid erosion. So from that, you'd have to think – who is at more risk of tooth problems? The kid who has one bottle then goes to bed, or the child who is breastfeeding little and often throughout the night?

  33. My son was breastfed for a year and then decided he didn't want to anymore – thank goodness because I am such a pushover too. He started preferring his bottle which I had been using for water and other drinks during the day. Until he was about two, he often walked around with it dangling between his teeth all day although by then he could drink from cups too. By three we managed to reduce it to night time milk drinks. His 'moolla' as he called it was all important to him. By the time he was turning four we managed to convince him that at four he was too old to have a moolla bottle and started preparing him for a 'bottle throwing away ceremony' on his 4th birthday to show he was a big boy. On the morning of his 4th, we had a little ceremony, said goodbye to the bottle, he cut the teat off with a pair of scissors and he threw it in the dustbin. In the evening he did ask for it, but I reminded him that he had decided to get rid of it and be a big boy which he accepted happily. There were no fights and no tears. He has no adverse problems from having had the comfort of his 'moolla' for so long. With the right teeth hygiene, his teeth were/are perfect, his weight is perfect. All of his development has been led by him – of course with gentle guidance from us and planting the right ideas in his head, he could do everything when he was ready to. Listen to your intuition, not the 'experts'.

  34. I can only speak from my own experience but my mother subscribed to this philosophy and although it worked for me (I was a strong and brave child), my sister's earliest memories are feelings of loss and denial of her comfort object aka the bottle. She had MAJOR anxiety throughout most of her early years. Developmentally it's not the eating that is the comfort, it's the sucking and the object itself. There's been some really good research done regarding the urge to suck and the bridging of certain connections within the brain. For some kids these connections happen right on time and for many other kids this comes later.

  35. I can only speak from my own experience but my mother subscribed to this philosophy and although it worked for me (I was a strong and brave child), my sister's earliest memories are feelings of loss and denial of her comfort object aka the bottle. She had MAJOR anxiety throughout most of her early years. Developmentally it's not the eating that is the comfort, it's the sucking and the object itself. There's been some really good research done regarding the urge to suck and the bridging of certain connections within the brain. For some kids these connections happen right on time and for many other kids this comes later.

  36. I agree with you. My mother was not a loving or caring woman to me or my sister so we both sucked our thumbs way way to long. My sisters children suck there their thumbs too even though they are loved and cared for very much and also have an object that they are attached to as did my sister and I. Now my 2 1/2year old does not suck his thumb has never wanted a pacifer, but he has a blanket and will not drink milk out of anything but a bottle. I also have a 11 month old so i have decided that when he starts drinking regular milk that i will give it to him in a cup and take the bottle away from my older son. I hope this works because i get alot of negativity from my mother in law who is now living with us changing our lives to fit her description of perfect parenting even though she will admit she was not a perfect parent. So i know my son is feeling very uncomfortable with all the changes going in our house right now but no one seems to agree with me on my parenting skills. I was not loved or taught to love or care for children. It came natural to me and I know my children feel and know they are loved mommy is their 1st choice. So I just wish everyone would get the fuck off my back because I believe I am doing a great job considering what I went through. Just had to get it off my chest. So thank you for having htis on here so I could vent with people that actually understand my situation.

  37. My son is 4, still gets a bottle at night. D Christine Northrup-spelling in her book mother daughter wisdom, speaks of a study linking extended sucking of any kind is linked to reduced obestity, reduced drug abuse, and reduced smoking incidence when older. She says let our kids suck as long as they like, its such an important need to suck..if its stifled it can cause problems forever. My secret..if u can call it that is that in my sons nightly bottle of goat milk is a sprinkle of vitamin c, heme iron, b12, choline,a few b vitamins, fish oil for the high DHA, CLA and borage oil, and a squirt of Alive liquid vitamins. So not only does he gat a highly digestabl milk calcium protein, its also packed with a ton of other brain building “secrets”..yep..I’m hoping he keeps taking this baba as I’m sure he wouldn’t eat all this otherwise..never been sick and no dental issues. 99% for height 50% for weight..happy night times, goes to bed quick and easy every night=
    very happy well rested mama:)

  38. Hooray, an honest post off someone who doesn’t judge ! Love it, my daughter is almost 18 months and her two loves in life ( apart from myself and daddy ) are her bunny and ‘bot bot’. She still loves her milk and her bottle is a massive comfort to her when scared/tired/hurt etc… I wish others would except that she is still so young and if it makes her happy who cares! There are bigger problems in the world rather than when my toddler gives up her bottle. At first I struggled with her about it after the 12 month, when are you going to stop her having a bottle questions started and know , she can stop when she likes and we can all be happy and stress free : ) x

  39. My kids will be 2 and 3 very soon and they still have a bottle of junior formula twice a day (morning and night). I could get rid of it if i wanted to but choose not to. It’s true that it is a comforting thing, they both also rub their ears for comfort while feeding. They start the day happy after a morning bottle, and go to sleep at night soothed and relaxed and I think it’s wonderful. Miss 3 is fully toilet trained and does not bed wet, nor do they fall asleep with the bottle in their mouths – they hand it to me when they are done. They’ve never had trouble drinking from a cup (both started at 1 year) which they drink from throughout the day aswell as a sippy cup when playing. I’m happy with giving my children formula as it has great vitamins and nutrients, epecially when they’re being fussy with food, eliminates the need to give them vitamin supplements in tablet/lolly/other form and i’m happy for them to continue drinking it and use bottles until they don’t want it anymore. They have regular/reduced fat cows milk in their cereal and eat cheese and yogurt too. Thank you for your post and to the responders too, it is very comforting to know there are many other mums out there who see the benefits the same way and support their beliefs and their children so caringly 🙂

  40. I can’t tell you how much I needed this right now. I seriously think you are so brave for admitting this was how you handled things. My twins are 15 months old and take as many bottles as an infant does when they are with me (they have always refused them at day care). I know it’s at least partly the bonding they get through bottle feeding. And they’re still not enthused about solids, so milk is a large part of their nutrition. Our ped wanted bottles gone at 12 months and though I don’t usually care what he thinks (he doesn’t even know that we’re hard-core cosleepers), the bottle thing has me feeling guilty. I keep asking my husband if we need to work on it, and he’s like “why?” Bless him. We were forced to wean from the breast early and abruptly and that was awful for everyone. I can’t put them through something like that again. I know I need to be more diligent with tooth brushing and use more cups when possible, but I feel really comforted by the fact that I can let them take the lead with bottles. And it will be fine.

  41. My daughter is 4 and sucks a bottle of water to go to sleep and in the car. It’s a comfort thing, and not because she’s thirsty. She’s a high strung kid who has a hard time calming herself and getting ready for bed. The bottle calms her instantly when she’s overtired or upset. I honestly don’t know what we would do when she’s bouncing off the walls if we didn’t have the bottle. I just hope that eventually she will mature and will find other ways of calming herself and won’t need them any more. That would be embarrassing to pack her off to college with a supply of baby bottles. But honestly I can think of a lot worse vices for dealing with stress!

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