Thursday, June 4, 2009

To bottle feed or not to bottle feed, THAT is the question.

According to what I've been reading, there are a myriad of reasons to not only allow, but encourage Charlie to continue feeding from a bottle even at her ripe old age of 10 months...

Apparently, in the U.S. there is a lot of focus on early development and the further ahead one's child is, the better. This is not true in many other areas around the world.

Here are some comments I've read on the subject from moms of adopted Ethiopian babies:

"Pediatricians like to see bottles go away at 1 year old. I know that there is concern about bottles and teeth decay but I personally think that 1 year is an arbitrary number and that some kids are ready at a year and some kids aren't. My son came home at 9 months, (he's almost 11 months now), and I have no plans to get rid of the bottle any time soon. I think he needs the sucking for mouth muscle development and I also don't want to force a major transition when he's been home such a short time. "

"I'm actually disappointed that I followed the pediatrician's recommendation to drop the baby-bottle when Nettie was a year old. She had only been home a month, and now I've realized that she never had much chance to develop her sucking skills -- important not just for feeding but for speech, etc. -- because she went from orphanage (cup) to one month of baby bottle to sippy. I think her chewing/eating delays have to do with this."

I'm in no rush to get Charlie off the bottle. I hear news from the care center that they have already started her on cereal and a sippy cup. But many attachment experts suggest "going back a step" and allowing your adotped child to "be babied". Use the bottle time to concentrate on developing eye contact...foster bonding...enjoy togetherness and cuddling...allow baby to feel safe and nurtured...whether or not they can already hold a sippy cup. It will not stunt their development to do this.

"In addition, adoption experts often suggest that newly adopted children be given the opportunity to be bottle-fed (an artificial substitute for breastfeeding) at least once a day, regardless of the age of the child (Hopkins-Best 1998). This is because the emotional age of a child may be very different from their chronological age. It is often suggested that the emotional age of a child be gauged by how long he or she has been in his or her adoptive family." - From Adoptive Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy cited below.

Also, I have to say that the more time passes, the more *annoyed* (for lack of a better word) I get with thinking I am missing all Charlie's "early" stages. Breast feeding is not an activity I will ever get to experience, so don't take away bottle feeding as well! (I don't know who I'm talking to here...)

I don't think I'm going to attempt breast feeding as I'm not really excited about taking hormones and supplements, but many adoptive moms do. I've written about it before in this blog (search sidebar for "adotpive breast feeding"). I do feel sad about missing that stage with Charlie and missing out on the bonding that naturally occurs with breast feeding. If someone can talk me into it, I might try it. I'm open to considering it.

"If a mother decides to try to breastfeed her older adopted child, it is probably a good idea to approach it with the goal of doing the best she can and determine that she will enjoy any amount of success she has along the way. At the same time, she should be prepared to grieve if her desire for breastfeeding is not fully met; loss of the breastfeeding relationship she desired is a very real loss." - From Adoptive Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy cited below.

For those of you who are interested in breast feeding an adoptive child who is older than newborn, here are some articles (there aren't many articles out there on this topic, but it is possible to do)

Adoptive Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy

Nursing Julia: My Supreme Challenge

Back to bottle feeding: I don't think I'd continue the bottle feeding post sippy-cup-stage if there was evidence it would stunt her development. The evidence seems to be the opposite: the safety abd security they feel in one stage allows them to venture into the next with more confidence.

Moms, is that selfish?


Malia'sMama said...

My little lady is 31 months old, next week ans still has a nap bottle and takes her morning smoothie in a bottle. I have no issues with it b/c she fully knows (and has known forever) how to use a cup, sippy cup, straw etc and can do it with full dexterity. It's just a comfort thing. Baby Charlie (who is a DOLL!) as long as she will let you. Nothing is sweeter to me than having MalĂ­a climb into my lap and ask "Make me a baby, Mama?" which means please cuddle me as I lie in your arms :)

Anonymous said...

Honey, you can read all the books and articles you want. When you hold that child in your arms, you will know what's best. Follow your instincts, let the rest go and enjoy your little one. They're little for such a short time.

Queen Diva said...


She is "your" baby go with your instincts! And I agree with the adoption experts. Children who spend the early part of their childhood in an orphanage need that "special" bonding. When my daughter came home last year she was two years old and she was drinking from a bottle for a couple of months. I even held it for her and she loved it because she missed out on that when she was a baby. It also allowed me to bond with her.

Do "your" thang girl!


Michelle J said...

Most kids dont' transition to only a sippy cup right away. There's usually a length of time when they use a mix-- cups and bottles. 10 months seems early to leave the bottle behind anyway.
As to breatfeeding...not sure that I would START breasfeeding at 10 months. Usually that's the time a child is starting to be weaned off the breast. Yes, I know some mom's breastfeed much much longer, but typically by 10-12 months weaning has begun.