One of our Additional Needs Support Befrienders, Kate, is a blogger.
Here she writes about the challenge she faced when she tried to wean her daughter off her bottle and on to a toddler cup. As ever, the little one's struggle taught her mum an important lesson.
We recently attempted to get our little girl off the bottle and onto a Tommy Tippee cup. To say it didn’t go well would be a gross understatement. The health visitor had advised going ‘cold turkey’ with the bottles as our girl is three and really shouldn’t be still using a bottle. She told us, “The longer you delay, the more difficult it will be.”
But she loves the comfort, familiarity and cuddles that come with her bottle. She knows what to do and feels a sense of security with her bottle. She has Down syndrome which makes some of the advice around transitioning from bottle to cup a bit more tricky. She doesn’t yet have understanding around things like choices. It wouldn’t (yet) feel like a nice bit of motivation for her to choose her own cup and have a ‘wave goodbye to the bottle’ ceremony as advised.
So, operation cold turkey, or as we called it ‘rock on Tommy Tippee’, began. We lasted five long days which were full of tears and stress for both me and her. Each night, after a day of her not drinking anything, I would cave and give her a bottle as I couldn’t cope with her going to bed without any fluids. We gave in. Back to the bottle.
It’s several months on now and she has chewed a hole in her bottle teat. We cannot find an identical replacement and she can spot a new teat a mile off. I’ve taken advice from a local support group and they’ve advised to go cold turkey again and engage in some tough love. They feel it’s an issue of behaviour and control for our little one, rather than because she’s physically unable to use a new cup. I totally agree. When approached with a new cup, our normally chilled, chirpy and lovely little girl wriggles, screams, cries and throws a full on hissy fit.
She doesn’t like change. She doesn’t like transition. She doesn’t want to go cold turkey. She doesn’t want to rock on with Tommy. She likes familiarity and she likes to be in control. I relate so much to this myself. I don’t like change or transition periods either. I like to be in control too!
This year has felt like a year of cold turkey for me personally. For the first time in my life I’ve had a period of unemployment. The familiarity of working, being in a team, being part of something has been removed. Cold turkey. The familiar was taken away and replaced with uncertainty, and I feel out of control. I’m craving the familiar soothe of the past like my daughter craves the soothing nature of having a bottle. I’m having to be careful that I don’t have regular hissy fits during this transition period, while I feel unsettled and out of control.
I recognise that to grow and move forward in life I need to go through this transition. I know that it’s necessary even if it’s hard. I’m trying to learn to go with the flow and to accept that transition and cold turkey times can lead to new levels of happiness, fulfilment and development. Staying in a place of comfort and familiarity is not always a good thing long term. Transition and cold turkey can be an opportunity to ‘grow up’ and move on to the next stage well. I’m learning lots about choosing to trust, choosing to wait well and choosing excitement rather than fear when I can’t see what’s ahead.
I’m trying my best to have a ‘rock on Tommy’ attitude, getting ready for the next thing instead of craving the comfort of the past. I want to embrace the excitement of the unexpected that could be just around the corner. Let’s hope both me and my girl properly learn the cold turkey lesson – and quick!
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