Child led weaning for bottles and pacifiers?

Jackie - posted on 07/28/2010 ( 33 moms have responded )

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It has become apparent that there alot of you who believe in child led weaning when it comes to breastfeeding. For those of you specifically that feel that way, but anyone who wants to chime in, do you feel that the child should also self wean off of bottles and pacifiers as well??

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Sarah - posted on 07/29/2010

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I think the comparison is a fair one. Why not self wean from a bottle? A pacifier is a different matter, but from a bottle it's the same kind of thing.
Someone mentioned bottle feeding being bad for the teeth.....well that's true if every single drink was being taken from a bottle. But what if it's only once or twice a day? Then it would be highly unlikely to cause dental problems.

Yes, the milk from breastfeeding is "superior" but on a comfort level, the two things would be the same for a child.

I think if you believe in "child led" ways of doing things, (which I don't) then bottle or breast could BOTH be child led.

(if any of that makes sense, I'm struggling this morning! lol)

Katherine - posted on 07/29/2010

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Well.....let's throw in a teddy bear too. Anything of comfort. I am NOT being sarcastic either. So when you decide your child is to ol for a bear, blanket or whatever, you take it away? That's what this comes down to.

The bottle, pacifier and teddy are all replacements for YOU. That's why women tend to do child led weaning. It can be traumatic. I just couldn't do that to my child, I guess I'm too empathic.

I'm not saying everyone else is insensitive either FYI.

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Celeste- my now 22 month old daughter self weaned from the breast at 6 months, continued getting pumped milk via bottle until 11 months and then finally self weaned from her last and final bottle (before bed) at 17 months.....she got sick and just refused it one night....that was that! The daytime bottles were eliminated at 11 months once my frozen milk ran out. EASY! I set boundaries but SHE decided. I still allow her a pacifier for bedtime ONLY (those are MY boundaries and she'll decide when and how much she wants it within MY boundaries)....I would say she asks for it maybe 60% of the time and I'm also confident that she'll completely give it up when she's ready.) I think that no matter whether it's extended breastfeeding, a bottle or a pacifier; as long as they're being practiced properly and the parents are setting clear boundaries, there shouldn't be an issue.

I also want to add that while I was breastfeeding, I would clean/wipe her gums with a damp cloth after almost every feeding and I never let her feed to sleep. I practiced the same with a bottle.

Jodi - posted on 07/29/2010

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Don't get me wrong, I actually set a deadline with my kids, but only after they had weaned themselves down to that one bottle in the morning, and one before bed. My kids were both close to 3 when I just took them away altogether. And they both have excellent teeth because I have always been anal about a teeth cleaning routine. There are still sugars in breastmilk that would cause issues if left in their mouth for long periods.



I don't believe the whole cavaties debate is about the feeding practices, but rather, about the teeth cleaning and hygiene practices. I think the biggest problem that the statistics are based on are those parents who allow their children to actually take a bottle of milk to bed with them and sip on it during the night, or drink it and then fall asleep......and that this practice is more common amongst babies over 12 months who bottle feed that those who breastfeed. I have no evidence of this, but as I said, my kids have no problems with their teeth, not a single cavity, my son is 12, my daughter is 5.

Jodi - posted on 07/29/2010

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April, milk, whether it is in a bottle or a breast, will equally ruin teeth if you don't clean your child's teeth.....often the problem is that a parent will put a child to bed with a bottle - THAT is the issue. But you would have similar issues if you breastfeed your child to sleep at night. Do you do that? Or do you ensure they clean their teeth at least twice a day, one of those times being after their last feed at night before bed? So what is the difference?



Personally, I think breastfeeding mothers don't understand that a bottle feed can be just as much a comfort thing, with all the contact, as breastfeeding. My daughter loved to snuggle up and have a bottle before bed while we did a bedtime story. It was very much a time of comfort for all of us. When I was breastfeeding, I loved that closeness just as much. Why do people argue that you can't take that away from your breastfed baby, but berate those who DON'T take it away from bottle fed babies?

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Tasia - posted on 07/31/2010

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My daughter was both breast and bottle fed (she was a preemie and needed extra calories added to my milk) and we started her on a tippy cup when she was 5 months and at 6 months she ONLY took her tippy, and just breastfed at night. Given that she had pumped milk in her sippy cup during the day. We asked her at 7 months if she needed her bottle anymore and she threw all her bottles in the trash!

But as far as her pacifier goes..... That's a different story. She would have it all day if I let her. I simply tell her "You don't need that!! Your a big girl!! " and she usually hands it over to me and doesn't cry or ask for it. I try to give it to her only at night or when she is taking a nap. And lately in the morning I've been having her put it on the entertainment center as soon as she gets up. It's worked great!!

Her pediatrician said that by having her hand it over and put it up is the best way to go!! Cause she doesn't feel like were taking it from her. That she is the one giving it up!

Nichole - posted on 07/31/2010

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I agree with infant led weaning... My son gradually weaned himself off bottles and is now 10 months old and has been using only hard top sippy cups since 9 months. At 4 months he started refusing bottles, so we moved to soft top sippy cups, each time he stopped liking a cup we moved to the next hardest one. Worked awesome! I never had to and never will have to fight to get him off the bottle, he did it himself.

As for the paci, I intend to him wean himself, with help like the bottle. He used to use them nonstop birth to 4 months. Slowly he has moved to only using it when sick, tired, or teething. If he is happy I take it out and set it on the table where he can get it if he wants it, but he'll leave it there until he's ready for a nap.

Starr - posted on 07/30/2010

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I think it is a great idea to set weaning goals. Like saying your child will hopefully be off a bottle by their 1st b-day. But realize that they may not be. Children need you to first develop the goals for them and then give them a little push in the right direction. They can wean themselves with our help.Both of my children weaned themselves off the paci before 7months. And the bottle by a year. Sippy cup was gone by age 2 for my oldest. My youngest being 8 months and we are working on moving to the sippy cup now. You see, I know a 5 yr. old still with a paci. Now will she ever choose to wean herself off? This is a hard topic. Good luck to you all. Just remember a breast is a bottle to some. Dont treat it any differently. A bottle might mess up speech development but a breast can mess up social development!

Charlie - posted on 07/29/2010

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I still have my Billy bear , hes traveled the world with me and still lives in my bedroom :D

Jodi - posted on 07/29/2010

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My brother used to have a blanket, and whenever mum washed it and hung it out to dry, he would sit beneath the clothes line watching it until it was dry......by the time he gave it up, it was nothing more than a 3 inch square of fabric it had worn out so badly.......

Interestingly, not of the rest of us had a blanket (out of 5 kids, only the 4th one needed it), which just goes to show that each child is different :) But that's right, that's another topic!!

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Teddy bears and blankets can carry disgusting germs. Take them away and wash them, and they are different to a child. Maybe not in every case, but I've heard of some instances where it was next to impossible for a parent to get the lovey to wash it. So, yes, there can be danger with that too.

Jackie - posted on 07/29/2010

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Well I don't think a teddy bear (or blanket) or whatever is the same as a bottle or paci. There are no developmental issues with a toy as there CAN be with bottles and paci's (teeth issues, cavities, speech delays etc).

That said I personally certainly try to steer clear of the comfort items when possible b/c I don't liek the habits they develop. Not to say if my daughter wants to snuggle with a blanket I have a problem wtih that, but I don't want her thinking it has to be the SAME blanket, or that it always needs to be with us.

BUT - up against a wall and forced one way or the other I would take the toy or blanket over paci/bottle anyday. I don't see them as the same thing.

Mae - posted on 07/29/2010

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I never could breastfeed but I have experience with the bottle and paci. My daughter stopped using the bottle at 4 months because just didn't like it the doctor suggested trying a soft spout sippy and she liked that. She used a paci until she was 8 months old when she got Hand Foot and Mouth disease. The sores in her mouth made it hurt for her suck on it so she just stopped. She has self weaned on her own when it comes to the paci and the bottle and I have no doubt she will for the sippy too. I think that it's important to have boundaries for your child to weaned from things by a certain time and if they wean themselves great, if not then help them along a little.

Allison - posted on 07/29/2010

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Just to chime in on feeding to sleep - I haven't yet found solid controlled studies correlating exclusively breastfeeding to sleep and cavities, but I nursed my son to sleep til he was almost 2, and since he was always asleep quickly, I could never brush his teeth after :) BUT we consistently brushed his teeth in the evening before nursing, (and usually in the morning, too) and he rarely ate sweets or juice. He is 3 now and has no cavities, but like others said, it probably has a lot to do with having good, consistent dental hygeine otherwise.



I decided it was OK not to brush after nursing only after talking to a lot of moms. Of those who bottle fed to bed, many of their kids had cavities, while of those who breastfed to sleep, none did. So not a scientifically sound study, for sure, but there seemed to be a correlation. So then I did a lot of reading about what is in breastmilk - while having sugars (but fewer of them), fresh breastmilk also has anti-bacterial properties (enzymes, I think?) that prevent the bacteria from growing in the mouth, and thus fights cavities naturally. That is why, statistically, breastfed kids have fewer cavities overall.



Anyway, just throwing it out there to play devil's advocate again, I guess - since my pediatricians also said to brush after each feeding, but after a *little* research I found it to be uneccessary in our particular circumstance...but I do think it's necessary after a bottle feeding.

Geralyn - posted on 07/29/2010

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Jackie, thank you for the clarification regarding "those kids" because the original question seemed to be asking whether self-weaned children also self wean off of the bottles and pacifiers, especially because you were directing it at BF'ing moms who believe in self-weaning. Based on your clarification, your question seems to be broader than that. Hmmmmmm.

Jodi - posted on 07/29/2010

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Celeste, I wasn't accusing anyone in particular of "berating" other mothers, so I hope you didn't take that personally. That was not directed to you, or anyone else in this thread for that matter. But yes, people do berate at times. I personally don't care, because my kids are happy an healthy. But I do see the double standard :)

Sarah - posted on 07/29/2010

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My eldest had a bottle until she was 3 and half.
She would have one in the morning after her breakfast, and one in evening just before bed. Her teeth were brushed afterwards.
I had tried and tried to get her to drink her milk from something else, but she refused.

She only stopped when she saw her cousin drinking from a "big girl" cup, and then she decided she wanted to as well.
So I guess it was fairly child led!

Her teeth are fine. I honestly don't think that 2 drinks of milk of a day from a bottle was going to damage her teeth.

I think that if you agree with child led weaning for breastfeeding, then it is a double standard to not agree with it for the bottle really. So long as it's just milk that is in the bottle. :)

Celeste - posted on 07/29/2010

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Jodi, I would *never* berate a mother for any of her choices.. I get berated enough for nursing as long as I have, I wouldn't do that to another mother.

Besides, like I said, I think I am beginning to understand your points.. I'm done having children, but if I did have a child and couldn't nurse him/her for some reason, I might do the same as the bottle as I did with breastfeeding..

Celeste - posted on 07/29/2010

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Jodi, breastmilk doesn't *generally* cause cavities. There are antibiotic properties in breast milk.


I've been thinking this over..Never thought about child led weaning with the paci or the bottle because my kids really didn't heavily rely on the bottle or paci, so I really don't have first hand experience with it.

I would really be interested to find out if kids do self wean from the bottle if given the chance. You just hear dentists and medical professionals pound it in your head that bottles must be done by 1 year.. But, like breastfeeding, I wonder if that's the case? I'm always open to other's experiences..

April - posted on 07/29/2010

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drinking from a bottle once or twice a day would depend on what's in it and how long they were sucking. it can still ruin teeth even if it was once or twice a day, everyday.

April - posted on 07/28/2010

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i believe in self-weaning from breastfeeding, but not from bottle or paci (but i don't think you should take away those things cold turkey either).

my reason for the "double standard" is because you cannot compare breastfeeding to bottle feeding. that's why this type of debate never ends. breastfeeding will always be superior to the bottle because nature has a way of making things just right. it's not a coincidence that children lose their "milk teeth" around 4 to 7 years of age...which is the same age range for child led weaning. nature has a reason and and answer for everything.

Jackie - posted on 07/28/2010

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And Geralyn...no it wasn't a wrong assumption. The question is...you think your kid should get to decide when to stop breastfeeding...so do you also think those kids who drink from a bottle (whatever is in it) or use a pacifier...should also get to decide when to stop those things.

Jackie - posted on 07/28/2010

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I also have used cold turkey for the pacifier, the bottle, going to sleep awake,and moving from soft top to hard top cups...nothing has lasted weeks or caused any significant amount of stress. and like Kati sleeping in our bed was just never even an option no matter what kind of nites we've had the last 19 mos since we brought her home.

And like Kati also said, I just don't think that just because my child wants something they should get it...I think that is completely the WRONG message to send to a child because there is alot of things in life that you don't get just because you want it.

I agree, I have seen some cold turkey cases turn into a whirlwind of stress and disaster, but i firmly believe alot of that has to do with letting the kid keep that object for too long rather than doing it at the right time.

Part of the reason the suggested age to end pacifier use is 6-9 mos is because when you start getting beyond that they start remembering and wanting (not needing) it. so ya if you wait until they are 2 then pull it cold turkey of course they are going to whine, they are stubborn toddlers at that time. When we did it at 7.5 mos there wasn't a peep.

Geralyn - posted on 07/28/2010

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As a breastfeeder who believes in self-weaning, my son never used a pacifier or a baby bottle, or a sippy cup for that matter. When he started taking water, he was introduced to a bottle with a rubbery soft straw, which is excellent for oral motor development and teeth placement - not like baby bottles, sippy cups, and pacifiers. And its age appropriate for children of all ages so there is no need to "wean." So the underlying assumption may have been incorrect that its our children running around with pacifiers and bottles until they are in kindergarten.

Allison - posted on 07/28/2010

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Yes, it's definitely based on our own experiences, mine were just the opposite of yours :) I'm sure it also depend on the kids' personality and the parents, so I guess it's a good lesson why we should not judge each other, since what works for one backfires for another!



I introduced my guy to the potty at about 6 months old, and he was dry all day and night by about age 2. He resisted it occasionally (as with all things) but I just kept teaching him about it gently and occasionally when we had time (he wore diapers full time at day care), and bit by bit he transitioned away from diapers. My friends and family all waited until age 2 1/2 or 3 to do the "training", and then struggled with it for months and months (like a lot of moms on here), so that's why I felt like it's better to start early. I just felt SO bad for them, because of all the time consuming "potty training" and tantrums they had to deal with. Same with weaning - they all did it at 1 or 2 years old, and had weeks of crying, attachments to bottles and pacis, etc, but we just dropped feedings gradually up until 2 1/2 when he stopped on his own without a tear.



So it is very educational for me to hear your experiences, too - I just personally never knew anyone who did it that way without lots of stress and tantrums! I am also very stubborn about doing things my way :)

Rosie - posted on 07/28/2010

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see allison, i have always done things cold turkey, and i've never had a problem. i see other people doing the same thing gradually and having just tons of trouble with it.

i know we all do what our life experiences have taught us, and my life experiences have leaned me this way. other peoples life experiences lead them to make other decisions. i personally think it's ineffective to push a child to use the toilet until they are ready-which for my children has all been right at age 3 or a little bit older. i tried it with my first and it didn't work AT ALL. i wasn't going to resort to punishing him for not going, so what could i do? i did what i thought was right for my 2nd child and he potty trained around the same time as his brother, my youngest did it a couple months before his older brothers did.

i know i have trouble with people doing things differently than i would do them. it's def. something i know i need to work on, and i'm trying, lol!!:) i just wish those who feel differently than me would understand where i come from sometimes!! ;)

Celeste - posted on 07/28/2010

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Oh and I do see your point, Kati. However, I think a misconception on child led weaning is that you let your child nurse whenever they demand it. I instilled nursing manners early on, and didn't allow my boys to lift up my shirt. I also didn't let them nurse whenever they wanted it (after a year), because if I did, they'd nurse ALLLLLLLL day.There were definitely limits and boundaries. So, I could see the same for bottles and pacis.

Allison - posted on 07/28/2010

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Good points both Kati and Celeste. I see it all as a "team effort" I guess - I just realized that I call it "child-led" whenever something is done gradually, in a way that makes sense to the child. For "lifestyle" things, I set clear limits at the outset, but let my son make some decisions within those limits, so that he gradually transitions toward the outcomes I want for him as his parent without much resistance :) The whole pacifier thing worried me from the start, so that's why I just avoided those all together. My son only had bottles during the day, and never with me, but stopped asking for those all together at about 14 months, so I guess I never worried too much about that one, either.



I think making any big transition "cold turkey" is (uneccessarily) more difficult for child and parent, but setting the limits from the beginning makes it easier in the long run. There is a balance, to be sure... (For example, one thing I feel very strongly about is that I wish more parents would start teaching their children about the potty earlier, rather than waiting for the kid to take the lead out of the blue when all they've known is diapers!!! I think that's why so many parents struggle to get their kids using the potty at age 2 or 3.)

Celeste - posted on 07/28/2010

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I'm not sure if I'd encourage self weaning off of bottles or pacis because long term use of pacis and bottles can cause dental problems. Of course, I realize that for some kids, it's easier said than done.



But having said that, only one of my kids took a paci and he was done with it before he turned a year. My daughter took bottles as well as breastfeeding. I took her off the bottle by a year. My boys never took a bottle.



Why I believe that child led weaning is different is because the suck of the bottle is different from the breast. Sucking on the bottle may cause cavities whereas breastfeeding generally doesn't. The suck on the breast actually helps with oral development. Many health organizations encourage breastfeeding beyond one.

Rosie - posted on 07/28/2010

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i am not a big fan of child led anything. if i feel my child is done with something, i want him to be done with it. i don't have the ability to deal with something i don't want happening over and over again just cause my kid wants it. just cause my kid wants to play his nintendo ds for hours on hours a day doesn't mean he's going to.
now it's all up to the parent what they decide is unacceptable. i don't accept pacifiers, or bottles after a year. i will not let my kids sleep with me. these things may not be important to other people, so they don't mind. i don't mind if my kid has a blanket or a bear for a while, i think around 4 is when i would start pushing to get rid of these things if they havn't already.

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I think as long as boundaries are in place very early on, children should be allowed to self wean ALL things.

Allison - posted on 07/28/2010

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Picking up where we left off on the "too old to BF" convo... I feel very different about pacis and bottles than BFing. I did not use either with my son - except for bottles of breastmilk when I was gone, and he weaned off those daytime bottle feedings at the same rate he weaned from breastfeeding during the day.



However, if used occasionally with limits (like breastfeeding is), I don't think they do any harm, and I feel that most kids will gradually stop using them in time - so "child-led weaning" should work fine - no biggie. But just as I wouldn't want to see a kid breastfeeding so much they don't get ample time to talk or play, I hate seeing kids walking around with a bottle or pacifier that clearly detracts from their social/verbal development.



There are a few key differences, though, which I've thought about a lot, and which are why I personally stayed away from them for the most part:



1) They are not people - they are objects. I would prefer my son to form bonds with people instead, and the breastfeeding time was a SHORT, infrequent break-time for he and I to bond. I would never let it interfere with his social time - this was his preference, too. However, if he HAD wanted to nurse more frequently or during play times, etc, as an older tot, or use it as some sort of "crutch" for comfort I would have gently said no (and did occasionally).



2) Like any "lovey" my son has, I didn't want him to be SO SO attached to something (like a paci or bottle) that he needs it all the time. With pacifiers, I see a lot of kids use them for HOURS every day, and I think this is not good because...



3) I feel like pacifiers inhibit verbal skills in kids over about age 1. I've seen this in my friends' kids - they can't talk with a paci in their mouth. If they need it for a few minutes in the car or before bed to calm down, that's great - but not when they are playing/interacting with others and should be developing their communication skills.



4) Also, pacifier use in older kids can negatively impact dental development (although I don't know much about that).



5) When kids are so attached to their bottle/paci, they seem to become hysterical when they can't have it whenever they want. Breastfeeding seems quite different - my son and other extended nursers I knew never did this. In fact, he (and they) gradually wanted it less and less, not more. Not quite sure why this is, but might be a whole parenting style that is different...such as not setting limits on things early on?



6) Bottles can provide too many calories. With breastfeeding, there is a limited supply, and if they drink more, it naturally becomes more watered down. With a bottle, it can be filled with more juice or milk than a kid needs, and if they are sucking for comfort, they are also getting unneccessary calories. Breastfeeding provides a better balance of calories vs comfort, I think. Also, it's not as mobile, so they naturally don't want to sit and do it for very long - so that limits the amount of time they spend on it, as they want to get up and move! With a bottle or paci, they can do it AND keep playing or looking around, so they don't feel as strong a need to limit their time at it.



7) Breastmilk has the proper natural balance of immune cells, enzymes and sugars for humans, so it does not lead to tooth decay as readily as pasteurized cow milk and juices. Many kids who drink a lot out of bottles past age one have increased cavities and tooth decay. This is quite rare with older breastfeeding kids. Even kids who nurse every night before bed rarely have cavities. This is the opposite for bottle-feeders.



As for a bottle with water only, then I think the same sort of limits should apply as for pacifiers or breastfeeding.

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