It is baby’s second Christmas. She is 15 months. Chaos is reaching a critical mass. Wrapping paper is strewn about, children are racing through the house on candy highs. Baby’s eyes are glassy. I watch her teetering on the edge between break down, and complete break down.
I have had a glass (or two) of wine, but thankfully I remember the bottle in the diaper bag we have for the ride home. The same bottle I am, on the insistence of her pediatrician trying to wean her from. I sail to the kitchen, fill up the bottle and present it to her on her father’s lap.
Instantaneously baby goes into wonderland. Everything slows way down and I see the chaos continue to unwind all around it, but now she is unfazed by it. She is in her own comfortable, calm world. In this moment that I realize the true genius of the bottle and swear to myself that she can have the bottle till she is in her teens if that is what works for her.
It is unclear to me why it is encouraged to nurse for years, but that bottles have a one year expiration date after which they turn into metaphorical pumpkins. Worse than useless, bottles by some are painted as the conveyors of immorality (formula). After one year of life bottles change in the medical community from conduit of nutrition and comfort to redundant appendages which if continued could cause bad habits.
I argue that bottles are a fantastic combination, like nursing of providing both sustenance and comfort. Even more wonderful is that it does this at a snails pace, i.e. enough time for mom to have a phone conversation, sip a glass of wine, unload the dishwasher or any other small tasks that are so hard to do during the day when baby/toddler commandeers all of your time. For me personally another joy of the bottle is that it can involve my body or not. G is usually happy if I hold her and snuggle her while she has her bottle, but she is just as happy to hang out on a chair by herself having said bottle while she takes a little reprieve. I think the one of the most important gifts we parents can give our children is the gift of how to feel comfortable in the world when we parents are not able to be around, either because we are in the next room, or we have to work, or want a date night, or want our child to know and trust other adults that we know and trust. Granted as children age they do need to find other ways to be comfortable in the world without us present, but to me it seems like if they start this practice early those other ways will come at developmentally appropriate times. I am sure there are million ways to get kids to be comfortable in the world away from their parents (pacifier, sucking their thumb, a
love-y, a song they sing to themselves, a book they read) the bottle is certainly not the only road to take, but I have to speak up for the bottle since that is what has worked well for our family.
I get that bottles can turn into bad habits, with kids over-attaching to it, drinking juice out of it or falling asleep with milk in their mouth. Admittedly I don’t want G to suffer through dental work on her baby teeth, but to me, in our house the benefit of G finding comfort in the bottle far outweighs the risk associated with strategic use.