Message in a Bottle

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and a lot is going on, so I may just do a bunch of posts at once, instead of one long litany of events. I also cannot currently speak, so writing is my only means of expression. So get ready.

On Jack’s three-year checkup with our beloved pediatrician, we finally got the thumbs down on continuing the bottle with Jack. OK, now, judge me if you will. Yes, the kid is three. But he can drink water and juice just fine from a cup. Not even a sippy cup. He doesn’t even like those things. He can drink out of my big water glass, uses both hands, usually adds some backwash, sometimes spills a few drops, but it’s all good. But he *would not* drink milk from anything but the same type of bottle we used while I was nursing him. And honestly, the bottle got us through many a tantrum during the infamous “terrible twos.” But our doc pointed out that sucking on the bottle can misshape his teeth and can also cause worse tooth decay, with the milk sugars building up behind those front teeth. Unlike other people, however, our doctor had a plan. He told us to offer Jack nothing but milk in a cup. No water, no juice. For a day, maybe two. “He’ll be mad,” he said. “But eventually, thirst will win out, and he’ll start drinking from the cup.”

Jack started drinking milk from the cup at the first meal. He was thirsty. But he took a teeny, tiny, painful sip and made a horrible face, as though the lack of old sour milk from the bottle’s crevices detracted horribly from the milk’s bouquet. But whatever. He drank it. Even so, I got worried after the first day that he would get dehydrated, so I introduced water back in. He will still take tiny, painful sips of the milk, pursing his lips together and maybe getting three drops on his lips before putting the cup down. But the benefits have been a hundredfold. Let me tell you, I seriously wish I’d done it sooner.

Here’s why. Jack started *eating.* We never starved the kid, but getting him to eat meals was usually a nightmare, and we’ve been feeding him ourselves since he was five months old, because he refused to feed himself. He turned down any new flavor or texture. We specifically asked for an OT who could help us with feeding issues (common among kids with autism) because every meal time became a battle. Several people had said that if we got him off the bottle, those problems might just go away, but we were like, “Oh, yeah, let’s hold our breath.” But they were RIGHT. Jack had been getting probably four bottles a day. That’s a lot of calories. Once we got him off the bottle, he was suddenly *hungry.* Really hungry. Ravenous. He started *asking* to sit at the kitchen table and have “lunch” (regardless of the actual meal time). Now he’ll eat fish, broccoli, chicken, stuff he wouldn’t eat a month ago.

AND…. Now he’ll actually feed himself. Because he’s hungry! Big heaping spoonfuls of yogurt and applesauce teeter precariously on his kiddie spoon, and almost all of it makes it into his mouth almost every time. He’ll stab grapes and cubes of chicken with his little fork and bring them to his mouth. I know this may sound like “duh” to a lot of people. But I’ve been watching other people’s children eating enthusiastically with a kind of envy I can’t even describe. “You mean your kid actually, you know, eats? That’s amazing!” Jack has always been a slow eater, even when I was nursing him. We would sit down to watch a movie, I’d put him on his little boppy and start feeding him, and about… oh… halfway through the movie, I’d switch sides. The boy takes his time. And such is still the case. But oh, it’s so worth the time, now that he’s willing to sit in that chair and have a meal. Halle-freakin’-lujah!

I’m not sure if this is related, but I suspect it is: Jack is also *sleeping* better at nights. He goes to bed and usually stays asleep through the night. He used to wake up at 3am and party for an hour or two before going back to sleep. I don’t know if it was because his bladder was fuller, or the milk sugar revved him up, or it was something completely unrelated. But aside from a recent illness, he’s been doing great on sleep, too. His diapers are also a lot less full, and we’ve had fewer explosions in the night, fewer loads of peepee sheets to wash, etc. I’ll say it again: Halle-freakin’-lujah!

So this post is a pretty literal interpretation of “feed the baby,” but that’s how this whole thing got started. Rock on.

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