WHEN IS IT TIME TO GIVE UP THE B’S? Age appropriate and how too’s on saying bye bye to the bottle and Binky’s!!
Dear: Parenting 911
I am a dad of 2 beautiful kids, Zackariah is 3 and Maleiah is 5. With my daughter “LeLe” I had no issues with giving up the bottle and she never used a pacifier –or “Bink” as Zack calls it. It was an easy conversion her need for independence, and desire to be more grown up far outweighed her need for the comfort of her BOTTLE. She was easy as pie to reach milestones. When Zack was born — my wife and I were thrilled that we were going to save on formula, since he took to breastfeeding like a champ. LeLe was never a good “latcher” she really struggled with it, therefore the bottle solved our issues. Zack was awesome — he rarely cried, slept like a brick, even rarely threw up.
When Zack was around a year old my wife was diagnosed with Breast Cancer — Zack was already switched over to the bottle for obvious reasons. Then last year my wife lost her battle with cancer. LeLe was 5 and during the course of my wife’s battle had become very close with my sister Karen. Zack clung to me…..
Without my wife, even with Karen’s help I find the smallest of challenges to seem impossible with Zack. He fights me on every little change. From what he eats to potty training he is the epitome of difficult. Lately as I gear up to head back to work — a necessity in order to save my home and car from default and repossession — I can’t for the life of me get this kid to give up the Bink and Bottle….. I feel like the evil guy who has brought him every bad thing he’s experienced, from news of his mother’s death — to learning to pee like a big boy — I am his “Dr.Doom”.
The preschool he will begin attending requires that he drink from a cup — even if it is a sippy cup. They also require no excess comfort measure… Such as a pacifier, special blanky a.k.a. blanket he uses for more than nap time — or stuffy a.k.a. stuffed animal — all of which Zack has. It is the only pre-school affordable enough with an open slot. Parenting 911 I need help…….
Sincerely: Fill up the sippy cup
Dear: Screw it just give me the bottle — NO I mean the other BOTTLE
First let me send my condolences on the loss of your wife, breast cancer is such a gamble especially in the young — I know because I am lucky enough to be a survivor. A parental death is NEVER easy on a child despite the age — so to you I give immense credit and my deepest appreciation for the strength you have shown thus far.
Now onto the boy — he is 3 — he is hurting — he is also incredibly smart. As he has “clung to you” he has learned from you. He has watched and learned strength in the face of adversity, he has seen patience when times called for none, and love when your very own heart was broken. Now — let’s refer back to the strength part — HE HAS LEARNED STRENGTH — and how to apply it. With your guidance, he will accomplish this feat and so many more to come. The example you have set is one of great character and influence — however he is 3 so much of what you have instilled is yet to manifest.
There are so many reasons that age appropriate change of comforts is NECESSARY, I will list a few.
1) By age 3 his teeth are now a serious concern. The damage a bottle or pacifier can do to his developing and ever-changing smile — can be extreme to almost irreversible in some cases. <– That is a dental / medical reason.
2) He may not get quite enough nutrients via fluids as he should using a bottle. The flow is far less greater than with a cup. Also the habit of dropping it somewhere to pick up and continue his thirst quenching at a later date becomes another risk all its own. A bottle of say chocolate milk — half gone, and set aside — found 5-7 hours later, and though warm it is not quite soured yet — however bacteria has begun to build up… POINT BEING — IT”S UNHEALTHY PERIOD. <—- Another Dental / Medical reason.
3) He needs to learn that his “GO TO” spots like his blanket, bink, and bottle are just item’s. They are object’s — instant gratification for feelings — not a problem solver, though he is only 3.
4) He will have a much greater success in being more sociable, easily adaptable to change, and efficient when the time comes, the sooner he understands how to convert “negative emotions” into “positive actions”.
SO HOW DO WE DO THIS?
Often in my advice you see me refer to a parent as the “Villain” in their children’s storybook of life, well — this will be no different. Dr. Doom meet your first chapter “The case of the bottle snatching bandit”……
There really are only a few ways to deal with this none of which will come easy — but you are used to the tough stuff, so bear with me and ride it out — I promise you will thank me.
First make an appointment with a “child friendly dentist” they are all over the place now, and gauge where you and Zack stand from a medical stand point. That will allow you a time limit and better idea of what if any damage has been done. Invite the dentist to assist you in explaining how the bottle and bink turn evil and bad as a child grows up. Seeing pictures of what his teeth may look like in the near future may not be enough to persuade him, but it will leave a mental image — for use later on.
I CANNOT STRESS IT ENOUGH — THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO DEAL WITH ASAP….
Secondly I would definitely have to say this is one of those situations where JUST DO IT needs to be your motto. With my pacifier and bottle obsessed boys I had to be the “Villain” — the only difference is I was a cowardly villain. In the dark of night and all throughout the day leading up to the night, I collected EVERY LAST evil bottle and bink. I threw them in a garbage bag or 5 tied them tightly in several knots so that even I was not to be tempted to give in to the crying and carrying on. And I drove……. I drove… And drove…. And drove…. I found a dumpster I knew was gated at night and full of nastiness “I WOULD NOT dig through” — and I dumped the bag.
When son #1 woke up demanding his pacifier I told him in my sheepliest voice “THE GARBAGE MAN TOOK THEM”. Yes I was a coward but let’s be honest I was out numbered here — and the garbage man was nowhere around to be questioned. Surprisingly after blaming the garbage man over and over — they came to accept that which they could not change. To this day they have a clear disdain for the city trash removal people — but the war on tooth decay had claimed its first victory.
The last thing I would recommend is making the switch to a cup fun, you mentioned in a part of your letter that is unpublished above that he loves to steal your coffee to-go-mug (that is a sippy cup in adult form my friend.) Use that to your advantage.
Anything that resembles DADDY’S STUFF…. Generally will appeal to your son’s innate predisposition to want to be like you. Regardless of the road you choose to take, as you know be it school or his own health this is not an option. IT MUST ME DONE…….
We know the path to great parenting is learning curve all its own, you can’t mess up to bad when it comes to doing what’s right, and in your child’s best interest. Enjoy the journey with him — learn WITH and THROUGH each other — and come out stronger as a family unit in the end. Good luck and best wishes from your friends here at Coffee or Vodka….
Sincerely: Heather Cornell of Parenting 911