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July 21, 2020

Toddler Comforts


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toddler holding pacifiers
My Bear at about 18 months old… with 5 “night-nights”… I cannot imagine taking those from her in the middle of a pandemic!

I caught up with a good friend the other day via Zoom. It had been a couple of weeks since we chatted (& since the start of coronavirus since we visited IRL)… we chatted about the normal topics of the day – our thoughts on the school plans (all options suck), our current level of social distancing (small bubbles because we need some sanity) and checked in on each others mental/emotional survival through all these crazy times…

At one point she paused – “I’ve got a mom of three to a mom of four question for you” she stated…

I got ready to dig out of my mom tool-box with a solution to whatever was coming…

“How do we get this little one to ditch the bottle?,” she asked.

Her littlest is about 18 months old & it seems the pediatrician had conveyed to them that she should be off the bottle soon.

As they asked, I had nothing. My kids hadn’t ever gotten attached to the bottle so I didn’t have any good tactics. The best I could offer was compassion because my daughter had been attached to the pacifier well past her third birthday.

I hated that I had no tools or tips to offer. I wanted to be able to provide more than token “you’re not alone”…

The conversation stuck with me for a few days and then, while cuddling my littles & watching a movie last night, it struck me…

In the middle of a pandemic, a full time working mother-of-three who is juggling keeping the kids fed, active & educated with all of her work obligations while constantly staying on top of our rising Houston numbers and evaluating risks for her family, which are keeping them isolated from normal outlets and support – this mom is being advised to add convincing a toddler to ditch her bottle to her list of things to do… the bottle – an item which provides security and comfort for this little one…

In normal times, would the advice to wean from the bottle seem out of place? Not at all…

But friends, these are not normal times. Very few of us are living lives that look like our normal ones…

Some of us are embracing our family time and finding ways to make the best of it… Some of us have higher risk tolerances and are taking advantage of smaller crowds at restaurants and theme parks… Some of us are discovering the joys of an All-American road trip…

But at the same time, all of us are wondering what the coming months hold for our economy… all of us are worried about if our children will receive the quality education they are promised… all of us are hearing of another person who tested positive and reevaluating the risks we are willing to take…

And, I’d venture to guess, that all of us are feeling added stress in our lives… and if you think for a moment that by “all of us” I am speaking of only the adults, think again.

Our little ones feel all the things we feel. They crave their normal routines and their big friend circles. The younger ones wonder why we have to wear masks. The older ones understand why and worry about what will happen if their loved ones get sick. We’ve taken their security structure of school routines and tossed them out the window – often with complaints and lamenting that they hear. We tell them they can play with this friend but not that one.

And they feel it all. Even the toddlers.

Now, can you imagine for a moment if in the midst of this stressful time, you were told to give up a comfort crutch that helps soothe your stress? Maybe it’s your morning coffee. Maybe it’s an evening class of wine. Maybe it’s painting. Maybe it’s Netflix. For me, it’s daily workouts.

If I told you, that in the middle of a stressful season, you needed to ditch one of those, you’d likely roll your eyes and sarcastically mutter “sure” and move on without a second thought…

And look, I am NO expert. But I am thinking back to when my oldest was about 18 months old and I asked the pediatrician about ditching her pacifier – an item I have to somewhat equate to the bottle…

The pediatrician looked at my 7 month pregnant belly and conveyed the following message: “she’s about to have a new baby in the home. She may adore her sister, but it will be a stressful event in her life to adjust to that newness. I strongly advise only 1 stressor at a time for little ones. Wait until she is well adjusted to baby sister – maybe three or for months – then look at starting to wean. She’s going to need that comfort in the midst of the change.”

So, to my dear friend, my completely based on being a mom & not an expert advice is this: screw it. Give that baby girl her bottle and let her be comforted. Don’t add stress to her life or yours in the middle of a flipping pandemic. Again, not an expert, but I am willing to bet some big numbers that her length of bottle use won’t be the decision factor for Harvard. Or magically change her overall health profile.

Soon enough, she will shun all things baby in favor of trying to keep up with the big kids in the house. And when she does, I am willing to bet the bottle fades into the distance pretty seamlessly.

And I am pretty sure, in this season of life, if you embrace letting her be, all those nap times and bedtimes are going to be a lot less stressful for you all.

Just my thoughts as a mom…



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