I’ve owned these bottles since I was pregnant with my first daughter, back when I thought that parenting was mostly about buying the right things and feeding a baby was just a matter of doing whatever the “experts” said; I’d be breastfeeding of course, and pumping the rest. Well, we all know how quickly the eating thing fell apart back then. (If you don’t, you can read the first chapter of The Eating Instinct for free here.) V wasn’t able to breast or bottle feed, and so this collection of bottles sat unused in a box, a sad reminder of where I thought we were supposed to go.
Then we got to pull these bottles back out and actually use them with Baby B, and it was surreal and cathartic in a lot of ways. We did a combination of nursing and bottles from day one; then switched to all formula at 5 months, and to regular milk at 14 months. She’s rolled with each transition just fine. But at nearly 17 months, she’s still drinking four bottles a day (16-24 ounces). So we’re starting to get pressure to wean those bottles; there are the arguments about dental health, and milk calories replacing food calories and needing to drink from a cup.
But mostly, there’s a lot of judgment about a toddler with a bottle.
Let’s be real: Most pediatricians, dietitians, etc, would never push a happily breastfeeding 16 month old to wrap that up, even though all of the same practical concerns apply. Because this isn’t, at its heart, a practical conversation. It’s about privileging one kind of feeding as “best,” and making parents (moms) feel guilty anytime we don’t measure up. I wouldn’t tell anyone to stop nursing before they felt done. But we discount the profound emotional connection that parents and babies feel through bottle feeding as somehow less critical.
FWIW, B adores brushing her teeth, eats lots of table food and drinks from a cup. And we are keeping an eye on our bottle schedule, to make sure it doesn’t interfere with her appetite at the table. But we aren’t rushing her out of this last bit of babyhood before she’s ready. Because comfort and body autonomy are key to a healthy relationship with food—at any age. #fedisbest