Friday, March 4, 2011

From Bottles To Sippy Cups

Since Baby reached her milestone first birthday, six months ago, we embarked on the endeavor to switch from bottles to sippy cups.  Conventional wisdom (i.e. the Internet) insisted that all bottles be thrown away at 12 months (even sooner for some "experts") and only sippy cups or real cups be used after that point.  Well, I decided to throw out conventional wisdom instead and just use a little "momsense" when it came to what my toddler and I could handle.

We tried all the new transitional cups that were supposed to ease the transition to toddlerhood for both child and mom. . .didn't work!  Baby decided that she only liked to chew on the soft-tipped spout instead of sucking on it like the bottle.  Introducing a sippy cup while Baby still had the sucking reflex might have been a good idea, just to give her the notion that she could suck some milk from it.  That window had closed by the time I tried at 12 months, so she saw it as just another chew toy, not a drink!  Even after removing the tops, so she could drink a bit of the juice or milk inside, she still didn't seem to grasp that she could get it out after the lid was back on.  She didn't seem to have any difficulty getting the liquid to drip out by knocking it around her high chair tray, turning the cup upside down to watch it trickle out or just chucking it on the floor leaving me to clean up the little puddle that would inevitably be left behind.  The process was frustrating for both of us to say the least.

Every few weeks I would feel the pressure from hubby or imagined sideways glances from other moms pushing a stroller with a younger child contentedly drinking from a cool sippy cup and I would try, try again.  Attempting to incorporate some of that conventional wisdom I tried several different brands of cups, some with straws, stoppers, no stoppers, soft tip, hard tip, etc.  Baby seemed impervious to any of my enticements to get her to drink a full cup.  After an hour of coaxing, helping to hold the cup up and any other means I could think of, the amount of liquid swallowed was hardly negligible.  Inevitably, I would give in and ask her if she would like a bottle instead and she would pound her chest frantically, signing please for her bottle.  Then she would down her drink in a flash, obviously parched from the torture I had put her through!

Eventually, I eased up on the sippy cup training, mostly because of our busy schedule or my own impatience with the situation.  It didn't hurt that our doctor was not at all concerned about her not giving up the bottle at one year.  Basically, "Baby will get it in time, so don't sweat it!" has been my sippy cup motto of late.  Once I stopped trying to force the transition and allowed us to just wait and see, I started to see a little more improvement, no matter how small.

One time I had forgotten to put the inserts in our bottles, so they would not work at all while we were out at a basketball game.  We discovered that without the necessary inserts the milk would leak pour out the sides when she tried to drink.  (Note to bottle makers: Is it really necessary to create a bottle that can't seal if some sleep-deprived-over-extended mom neglects to use the insert?  Really?!  C'mon!  Ever have a baby?!  Okay, stepping off soapbox now.)  Fortunately, I had a milk box in my bag and I managed to get her to take little sips out of the straw.  Now we can add juice boxes to our menu options, as long as she doesn't hold the box, squeezing the contents up through the straw (learned that the messy way over a decade ago with our first two kids!)  Even at restaurants, she can drink from a straw with a lot of supervision.

At home, however, I was hoping for a cup that would not require me to sit or stand nearby keeping it upright or from being hurled from the highchair spewing it's contents from the straw, spout or seams.  So my hunt for a more independent, less messy, sippy cup continued.  Naturally, I turned to my own experts. . .all those friends on Facebook!  The overwhelming suggestion was Playtex cups.  Well, I had tried them.  The newer ones had leaked and with the older ones she had just chewed on the tips.  Now that she had surpassed the 18 month mile marker, I figured I would pull out my old Playtex cups and try again.  A few days ago, I handed her one of her sibling's nearly 15 year old cups filled with juice.  You know what?  She took it and drank from it!  She didn't chew it or play with it, but actually drank a noticeable amount of juice.  Mind you, she didn't down it or even finish it in one sitting, but she got more from that cup than any other and when she threw it to the floor (another thing for us to work on) it miraculously didn't leave a puddle!  Problem solved, I had finally found my answer to the elusive question all moms want to know "where can I find a leak proof sippy cup?"  Playtex, at least more than a decade ago.  If you want a current answer you may have to do the trial and error route yourself, but now you've got a place to start!

One would think that my sippy cup woes end there.  That would be a good story, wouldn't it?  Of course, the saga continues with a particular adventure that we had today: attempting to appease the baby with a sippy cup while out and about.  What was I thinking?!

This morning Baby drank from her sippy cup at breakfast, dawdling a bit, but managing to get roughly half way down.  I threw the cup in the diaper bag, thinking she could finish the rest if she got thirsty while we were out for a bit.  We arrived at the gym for our usual work out.  Me working out while she flirts with the physical therapist with her throw-the-toy-look-cute-say-"uh-oh" game until he picks it up and continue to repeat until he realizes he needs to get a paycheck! After their usual ritual concluded, Baby realized that she hadn't had a breakfast bottle.  She refused to be content with her toys, books, kitty purse, the giant gym ball and definitely not her sippy cup.  With much screaming and thrashing, we headed quickly to the car.  Fortunately, my cohorts at the gym found this rather amusing, being the first time they had ever heard her cry!

For about 10 minutes Baby was quite inconsolable.  She refused to be comforted by anything, not even her magic CD (look for another blog post about that in the near future.)  Since she hadn't drunk her full cup earlier, she was obviously thirsty.  Eventually, she succumbed to the offer of cereal and ate them up, with an occasional outburst every time I tried to offer her the sippy cup.  After a much needed sanity stop at Starbucks, we arrived home.  As we pulled into the drive way I offered her the sippy cup one more time, knowing that she was thirsty.  This time she gladly grabbed it, took a big swig, swallowed, grinned and said, "aaahhhh!"  Really?!  After all that grief?  So instead of getting frustrated, I grabbed my coffee and the two of us sat in the car, listening to the magic music, simultaneously drinking from our sippy cups and ending each gulp with an elated sigh of contentment.  Progress had been made!

Of course, Baby still needed the comfort of a bottle and a bit of cuddling before her nap, and you know what?  I didn't mind at all.  We enjoyed a snuggle with some books and a little Mommy and me time with the knowledge that all too soon she'll be two and drinkin' from her own cup, so enjoy this while it lasts!

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