I’ve always been a big fan of my lovely squishy Avent baby bottle. Right from the start I could happily swap from boob to bottle, and then once Mama went on permanent boob strike I joyfully sucked down my evening milk for the last 18 months.
The discussion at our one year health visitor appointment was fairly predictable. Mama listened earnestly to the nice lady who firmly explained that my bottle habit was just that, a habit, and now that I was enjoying three big meals a day I no longer needed my bedtime milk. More importantly, milk bottles before bed can cause the dreaded “bottle rot”. Seriously, google it! It’s gross and it’s caused by the innocent milk bottle, and I mean an actual bottle of milk not those funky retro sweets!
Of course I knew this conversation would go nowhere. Mama is terrified of implementing any change that might disrupt my sleep and Daddy is very much a path of least resistance man. Plus they spoke to approximately 1,000 other more experienced parents who reassured them that there are worse vices to have, and you really must choose your battles.
I have therefore enjoyed another year of interrupted milk glugging. So ingrained was it in my routine that I would jump out of the bath each night, trot over to the fridge and hand Mama the milk. In the meantime, it was permanently on Mama’s to-do list: drop the damn bottle. She saw THAT episode of the Three Day Nanny. She made half-hearted attempts to offer me milk in a cup. But NO. Milk comes in a bottle! Not a beaker, a glass or one of those hipster Doidy cups.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when we attended my two year review at the health visitor. Mama and the lady got chatting while I enjoyed an afternoon snack. I was eating some whole nuts, diligently biting each one in half before chewing them carefully. The health visitor praised my ability to each such adult food. She was delighted to hear I was talking well, sleeping through the night and showing first signs of being ready for potty training. Mama basked in my reflected glory.
All that changed when the question “does he drink from a cup” was raised. “Yes”, said Mama, getting a little flustered. “Sure, most of the time, yes, he will drink water from an open cup all day…but we can’t seem to stop the pre-bed milk bottle.” There was a moment of silence. “I’ve definitely tried really hard, but it is such an ingrained habit and he really relies on it to wind down before bed. I always brush his teeth carefully…Plus his father doesn’t want to upset him”. Aha, I KNEW Daddy was on my side!
Mrs Health Visitor was not impressed. “The bottle needs to go”, she said, sternly. “You need to tell him that bottles are for babies, and that they don’t come in his size any more. Throw them away, and tell him that he’s two now and far too grown up for bottles”.
What? Bottles are for babies? Why on earth did no one tell me this? Am I really acting like those lame kids in group one at nursery who can’t even walk yet? The rest of the appointment continues. I reluctantly allow myself to be stripped and weighed. I demonstrate my ability to build a tower out of a few grubby plastic blocks. They don’t do stickers anymore so I get fobbed off with a plain white label (cheers Jeremy Hunt) and home we go.
All afternoon I’m seething. Why did no one mention that I was engaging in a babyish activity every day? I hear Mama have a whispered conversation on the phone, “it all went well but she said we have to ditch the bottle…I know I know, I can’t handle the tantrum either, he needs the milk to sleep, let’s think about it when we’re back from holiday”. I can’t believe they have such little respect for me! That evening, we have our usual splashy time in the bath. I hop out and slip on my robe, and walk directly to the bedroom. I don’t even acknowledge the fridge, I don’t pass Go, I don’t collect £200. Mama’s face is a picture, very confused but cautiously delighted. I get on with reading my books, go to bed and snooze the night away.
That, my friends, has been my routine for the five weeks. I haven’t touched a bottle since I found out they are for silly babies. I’ve accepted an occasional evening snack, such as a rye cracker or a fine cheese that is far more suitable for a gourmet like myself, but the bottle days are well and truly over. Mama can’t believe it. Daddy thinks we should keep the bottles “just in case”. I think they underestimate me!