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Breaking Away From Bottles

I always dreamt that my babies would go directly from breastfeeding to drinking out of a cup, with no bottles in between. Well, it never happened that way. Tom and I were left with the task of weaning three children, all of whom loved their bottles and did not give them up readily. Everybody has to do things that he or she is loathe to do as a parent. Mine was taking away my children's baby bottles. Why? It comes down to convenience. It's simpler to track a child's milk consumption with bottle-feeding, and I found it easier to soothe my children before bed with a bottle of warm milk so that they drifted off to guaranteed sleep.

But your child cannot go on forever drinking from baby bottles, for a number of reasons. Relying on a bottle for beverages may interfere with a toddler's ability to drink from a cup. Kids can come to depend on the bottle to feel full. In doing so, they may easily consume too much milk and not enough solid foods, which contain a variety of nutrients. The bottle could become a source of additional calories, too, leading to an overweight child, especially when she's allowed to suck on a bottle at will. Of course, you should never permit a child to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice in his mouth, because it promotes tooth decay.

So, how do you banish the bottle? Gradually, for the most part. Some children give it up themselves (I should be so lucky), while others hold fast. Here's a trick I used with Emma, who had her last bottle at nearly sixteen months of age. I warmed her milk slightly and gave it to her in her sippy cup just before bedtime. I was sure she would resist the change, but I was wrong. She took about an ounce, calmly gave me back the cup, stuck her thumb in her mouth, and went quietly into her crib without a whimper. A few nights of that and she gave up milk before bed in favor of reading books.

Snacks for Toddlers: What and How Much
Remember when you fed your baby every three hours or so? His stomach was tiny, so he needed to refuel frequently to keep up with the nutrient demands of his rapid growth. Your child's stomach capacity has increased some, but it's still limited enough for him to require two or three daily between-meal snacks, provided he's hungry for them.

The best snacks are mini meals, not meal wreckers, so start small and give your child just enough to hold him until the next meal. Of course, this does not always work out perfectly with one- and two-year-olds, since their appetites are erratic. It's OK if your child ends up eating a bigger snack as long as it's healthy. Left to their own devices, kids usually curb food consumption at the next meal. Here are some snack options for toddlers and older children.

  • Natural cheese such as cheddar, Havarti, or Swiss
  • Milk (full-fat for up to two years old)
  • Yogurt (full-fat for up to two years old)
  • Hard-cooked eggs
  • Cottage cheese (full-fat for up to two years old)
  • Tuna
  • Whole grain breads and crackers
  • Fruit (with the exception of whole grapes)
  • Fruit juice (limit to 4 ounces a day)
  • Graham crackers
  • Plain cookies such as animal crackers
  • Pudding (made with full-fat milk)
  • Dry cereal or a small bowl of cereal with milk
  • Vegetable juices
  • Well-cooked vegetables such as a sliced, peeled sweet potato
  • Tortillas

Copyright © 2002 by Elizabeth M. Ward. Excerpted from Healthy Foods, Healthy Kids with permission of its publisher, Adams Media Corporation.

To order this book visit Amazon.com.

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