Let's get the elephant out of the room right away: I am FULLY aware how ridiculous it was that Alec is four and a half and still drinking all of his liquids from a bottle. And by all his liquids, I mean the two gallons of milk he went through each week.
The bottle was his soother, his pacifier, his comfort, and I as a parent am a big believer in monitoring your child for signs that they are ready to let go of that comfort and then act accordingly. Not on my schedule, but theirs. I try really hard as a parent to honor the quirks my kids display- some have more quirks than others *cough ALEC cough*- and work with them. My goal is to not leave my kids with gaping emotional holes that they then spend their entire adult lives trying to fill. Because that ain't pretty.
But let me be clear- the last year or so has been very embarrassing to bring him out in public with his bottle, and many people made comments to me about how he's not a baby. Yes, I understand how silly he looked and how I could have taken it away earlier. And I can see how people judge, just like I did before I had kids. I always said I was the best mom I ever knew before I had children.
I have walked a fine line here on the blog talking about Alec and his quirks and not oversharing details that he may someday find embarrassing. The bottom line is that his brain is wired differently than neurotypical kids and I as his mom have to make dozens of judgement calls a day about how to handle him. Sometimes that includes setting boundaries, and sometimes that includes letting things go. Many times I question my own choices and think how I would have done something differently. I did this with the girls, too, but there is some added complications with Alec. And this was an ongoing judgement call.
We noticed that he was not quiiiiiite as fixated on the bottle a few months ago and I started formulating a plan to ditch it entirely. Knowing that we had a big trip to Mexico coming up, I thought it would be perfect timing to be bottle-free before our departure.
Alec got a calendar for Christmas and I told him to pick a day in April that he wanted to set as Getting Rid of the Bottle Day. "I want to do it on the five!" he told me. Perfect.
We were down to only one acceptable nipple that he would drink from (after determining one day the other two we had were unacceptable...quirkmeister) and only three actual bottles left. I tried buying replacements but 1) the Walmart brand of nipples was deemed not okay by my bottle expert and 2) I bought the first bottles 5 YEARS AGO. They don't even sell that kind or shape anymore.
We talked about boxing up the bottles and sending them to Baby Luke, who in actuality is almost two years old and as far as I know, has never ever drank from a bottle. (Sorry, Older Alec reading this. You were blatantly deceived for the greater good.) Alec was way on board with this plan.
And then we had the key component: bribery. I bought him a Skylander to play with on April 5th.
Alec was thrilled. I was nauseous.
Here is the very last bottle sitting next to the Bribe. Meet FreezeBlade.
And here's my happy boy with FreezeBlade.
So, I packed them all up...
... and "mailed" them at the post office, also known as the garbage can in front of the Central Avenue Home Depot.
Alec decided that he was going to drink out of the cups he uses at preschool, which I shopped all over for but they only sell at Sam's Club. God bless the girl working at the counter there who did not make me buy a $48 membership to purchase Dixie cups. I bought 900 cups, not knowing how long we would use them for.
Turned out that was about one afternoon. So now I have about 892 dixie cups at my house. Looks like one package will be returned and that the preschool will be getting a donation soon.
Alec did really well! Not one tear was shed about the whole thing and he was rewarded for his good efforts with another Skylander. We went to Mexico bottle-free and it was heavenly. It took a few days for him to regulate his eating and drinking, but I think we've seen steady improvement in his food intake and drinking. He drinks some 100% fruit juice, some water, and iced tea. He really likes drinking from a straw, so we do that quite a bit.
The only difficulty we've had is some nights he has trouble settling down and falling asleep without his trusty bottle by his side. We are working through that and trying various strategies. Also when he is really upset, I sometimes wistfully wish I had a quick bottle to pop in his mouth that would help get him through. But we are working our way through that as well. Thankfully he has never asked for a bottle or cried about missing it- signs to me that he was really ready.
I was shocked that it went so well, to be honest. It is a huge relief that we are done. On the evening of April 5th, Dan removed the bottle basket from our dishwasher and stomped on it. Many times. Freedom!!
Now, if only potty training could be so easy...