Putting Down The Bottle

A bit about parenting. As a parent, I sometimes feel like I am blindfolded, feeling my way around for a doorway in a sparsely outfitted, dark room. I just wish I could take my blindfold off and turn the lights on. Theodore Roosevelt was certainly right when he noted that, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty …”

One of my biggest surprises in parenthood is that no two kids are alike and there are very few textbook children. Most parents cannot open a Dr. Sears book and read about what a child should be doing at age X and see that their X-month old is doing just that. At first, I was in denial about this and thought that maybe I am at fault for Sophia’s horrid sleep or her dependence on her bottle well beyond the age of two. However, I quickly realized that children are all different and they, just like us adults, have their own personalities, needs and develop at a different pace. As such, it is simply unfair to expect your child to adhere to a set of guidelines that are outlined by experts who have never met you or your child.

Our own parenting style is also one where we are flexible and focus on Sophia’s needs and comfort, expanding great effort to avoid any undue stress or cognitive taxation on her. This style has precipitated, or perhaps the style itself was precipitated by, Sophia’s personality and needs. As a result, we are faced with a 28-month old who co-sleeps with us at least part of the night and still drinks drank a bottle in the evening and in the early morning. That’s right, I am with this post, celebrating the end of my bottle prepping and washing days where Sophia is concerned.

How did we finally do it? Well, one day, we offered her milk out of a cup with a straw, a cookie to go with it and made the entire thing that much more appealing with her very favorite cartoon. We’ve not looked back since. There were no tears, no cold turkey, no spilled milk and no days without it. I could have followed the textbook that said that I just had to remove the bottle from Sophia at age one, but I know that would have meant tears, spilled milk, going cold turkey and bending Sophia’s will to mine or actually, the experts’ will. Why? Instead, we waited until she was ready and found the transition to be fairly easy.

This was a great lesson for me as a parent: I should, and always will, trust my gut when it comes to my child. I will not let society and its arbitrary norms dictate my child’s transitions and adjustments and rather, enjoy and embrace her needs first and foremost.

I hope this post does not impart an impression of some sort of a hippie parenting where we have an anything goes attitude. While lax on some things, we are incredibly strict and have expectations in others such raising a child who is a willing and agile traveler, a child who is willing to try new foods, new activities and experience and a child who above all is empathic.

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