Bottle weaning was never a problem to me; I didn’t even have to make a conscious effort of enforcing it. I just saw it happening. But since my ever dearest friend need some tips on how to bottle wean his son, I made a serious recollection of the things that could have contributed to the natural process of bottle weaning that happened to us. Let me tell you our story and perhaps you can pick up some tips.
At age 0 to 2months – direct breastfeeding (exclusive).
Because we do not have a nanny for the first six weeks (since I gave birth), direct nursing was the best option my son and I have. No need to wash and sterilize, no need to go out to buy, no need to prepare and measure. We just need to be together… always.
At age 3 to 7 months – bottle feeding (expressed breast milk) – 9am -12 nn + direct breastfeeding (1pm to 8am the following day)
Since I need to go back to work and we’ve found a nanny (The Saga for a Perfect Yaya in a separate post), I express milk for my son. Yes, just like a cow ;-). Then, he will consume that (in a feeding bottle) during the time of the day that we are not together. At lunch time, my son goes to the office and stay with me until I punch out.
As early as 4 months, we started giving him an ounce or two of fresh fruit juices, as per his pediatrician’s instruction. I used a sippy cup for his juice.
My only reason then is that I want him to identify clearly that juice is different from his milk; I don’t want him to cry over my chest frustrated because he’s hoping that he will get fruit juice instead of milk. 😉 I didn’t realize that it will be the start of it all. Since he likes the taste of the fruit juice, it comes to him as a treat. Something he looks forward to everyday. In that case, he prefers his cup more than anything. The mere sight of his cup makes him kick to the left and to right. His anticipation is so high that he learned how to sip with no difficulty. And because he likes it so much, he always tries his best to empty the cup as fast as he could, hoping for another round.
Age 8 to 12 months – bottle feeding (expressed breast milk) – 9am -6pm + direct breastfeeding (6pm to 8am the following day)
It’s nice to have a child in the office every now and then, but not every day. So, I decided to adjust his schedule. I expressed as much milk as I can during Christmas vacation so that when the New Year comes, my son would just wait for me at home, waiting for the best pasalubong in the whole world, his milk. He would nurse as soon as I sit on our bed, even if he just had milk or a meal. I would often whine about it but my husband would always tell me that it’s not all about the milk. He wants to be cuddled and hugged because he missed me. Oh, he has a point there. 😉 So whenever your child sob or cry out of nowhere, don’t give him his milk right away; hug him, comfort him, cuddle him first then when he’s calm and composed, ask him what he wants or surprise him with his milk. In that way, he will not associate comfort with his milk and he will be encouraged to express himself to you.
Another point to consider is the flow rate. One day, my son’s yaya (nanny) noticed that he refuse to take his milk. She immediately informed me and upon close inspection we’re able to deduce the reason. He’s not satisfied with the flow rate of his teats. So we adjust it to a bigger size. I strongly believe that it helps a lot when you give him the right amount of flow rate based on his need. Do not let him get into the habit of taking fluids in a slow rate that it becomes his standard and get used to it. Adjust as soon as you see a sign of dissatisfaction on his part or if you see that he can take in more. The age appropriate recommendation for teats and cups is a great guide and then observe your child closely as you introduce him to a bigger size to avoid any accident.
At ten months, we replaced his fresh fruit juice sippy cup with a straw cup, thinking of the same principle behind. When my son’s teacher in Kindermusik saw that he’s using a straw cup, he said that using a straw in drinking helps in speech development. Isn’t the great? We hit two birds in one straw.
Month 13-18 – Straw cup (formula milk) + direct breastfeeding (6pm to 8am the following day)
I get tired of expressing milk so we decided to introduce formula milk to his diet. I think maybe because I used manual breast pump or perhaps because I’m tired of wearing a nursing bra, I don’t know exactly why, I just felt that I need to give this whole thing a rest. So, he will have formula milk (in straw-cup) whenever I’m in the office then he will just directly nurse on me, whenever he wishes to, from that time I arrive from office until before I leave the next day. This seemed to be the most perfect set-up for us.
By the way, we still give him his fresh fruit juice everyday but now in small polycarbonate glasses.
Month 18 up to present – Glass (formula milk and all other fluids)
Everything in the world, good or bad, will definitely come to an end. How did this wonderful relationship called breastfeeding ended? It is because of a house. You read it right; a house brought our special bond apart. Since we moved to our new house my travel time from office increased by a hundred fold, from 2 minutes to 2 hours. So my son who’s eagerly waiting for me (and his milk) gets hungry and sleepy, so he had no choice but to take his formula milk and rest. After a couple of weeks, he has totally forgotten that he used to take his milk from me, as if nothing in relation to breast feeding happened between the two of us, but my embrace still is and will always be the most nurturing gesture he would like to have.