If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw that we recently got rid of bottles. Yes, my daughter is pushing 2 and a half, and yes she was still taking a bottle. But to my defense, it was only at night and at naps when she wasn't at daycare. She doesn't take a pacifier, and hasn't since she was probably a year old. For us, pacifiers weren't hard to lose, but bottles on the other hand were. Ever since she was an infant, she has wanted a bottle and a necklace (on me) at night, so it was just her way of winding down, and honestly it was just a faster way to get her to fall asleep.
I knew at some point, hopefully sooner than later, that the bottle would have to go. So I saw something on Pinterest about the Paci Fairy. The idea was that you would have your child gather up all the pacifiers in the house, put them in a bag, and leave them on the front porch for the Paci Fairy to pick them up. The next morning, the Paci Fairy would leave a special surprise for the child. Somewhat like the tooth fairy.
I thought well if this works for pacifiers, then surely it would work for bottles. I mean what the heck, what do I have to lose?
First came shopping for her special surprise. I went to Target, and got some things I knew Taylor would be excited about . In the bag I put some Hello Kitty and Princess stickers, new sippy cups, a princess bicycle helmet for her new scooter, and The Little Rascals movie.
Next, came the letter. During my first draft of the letter, I had used the bottle fairy as my main character. But while writing, I got to thinking Taylor isn't going to understand who the bottle fairy is. But what she does understand is Santa and his helpers, aka the Elf on the Shelf. At Christmas last year I got her the Elf on the Shelf movie, she loves it, and requests it quite often. So I decided they would be the perfect characters in my plot. So I got creative...
I attached the letter to a pink gift bag, and sat it outside on the back door. To make things better, I ended up finding Taylor's Elf, Annie, in the garage. I placed her front and center on the gift bag with the letter, so that when we got home, she was the first thing Taylor would see. She was the perfect addition to my plot.
After I picked Taylor up from her grandmother's that evening, we pulled into the house and got out of the car. Taylor walked right up to the back door, and yelled.... "ANNIEEE!!"
She was so EXCITED!!!!! I acted as if I had no idea what was going on, and how in the heck Annie got here before Christmas time? We walked inside, and I began to read the letter aloud to Taylor.
After I read, Tay still excited but slightly confused as to why Annie was there, began to participate. I repeated over and over "Let's get all the bottles, and put them in this bag, so Annie can take them back to Santa for all the new babies"
So Taylor, started putting her baby doll bottles in the bag... Ha.. sneaky girl. I told her real babies can't use the baby doll's bottles, that they needed hers.
I sat her on the counter, and sure enough she was helping me load up all the bottles, nipples, rings, and any accessory that came with any bottle in the bag.
After we gathered all the bottles in the house, Taylor took the bag all by herself, and walked them to the front door.
She sat them on the front porch, and gave Annie a kiss goodbye.
Afterwards, we went upstairs, and got ready for bed. Pajamas, teeth brushed, etc. While she was in her room, I went downstairs, and exchanged all the bottles in the bag for her special surprise.
After I was finished, I went back upstairs, and non challantly brought Tay back downstairs to get her some milk before bed. Taylor went to the front door, and noticed that the bottles and Annie were gone and the bag that had been left was magically filled with goodies instead.
She was so excited!!! She quickly had me open the door, and ran outside to see what "Santa" had left behind.
We opened up every gift, and had some fun playing with the stickers.
I told her we could use one of the new sippy cups Santa had left to lay down with. At first, she started to fuss for her bottle, but I told her we didn't have any more left, because she sent them with Annie to give to Santa. She was quickly over it, and reluctantly laid down with me with milk in her new sippy cup.
SUCCESS!!! I was completely shocked that it worked. I had tried cutting out bottles before, but she would always throw a huge fit, and I would always give in because I was tired myself, and wanted a quick solution. But who would of thunk with a little creativity and imagination, she would be willing to give bottles up practically on her own.
Here are some tips for a successful transition:
1. Make sure your child is ready. Typically any child from 12-18 months is ready to let go of a bottle or pacifier, so try to let them naturally get rid of it on their own. Taylor was ready to give up the paci, and it just sort of happened. The bottle was another story. I think potty training and bottles go hand in hand. So if they are starting to use the potty, it probably is a good time to start giving up the bottle.
2. Get creative. Remember when you were a kid, what made you excited? Incorporate things your child is currently excited about. Whether it's stickers, a new toy, a character from a movie, or a sport. Whatever they love right now, find a way to incorporate that into the plan.
3. Give your letter a plot. Why does your child NEED to do this. Give him or her motivation, like helping other babies. Kids are more reluctant to give up something when they feel they are helping someone else. But isn't that the case with most people? You wouldn't just give up something, unless you felt it would help another person more. Kids feel the same way.
4. Use characters your child already understands. Introducing new characters can be confusing to a child, and they might not get the point. It also serves as motivation. If Minnie Mouse is your daughter's favorite, then maybe use a stuffed Minnie that your child has, and set her out with the bag. When I was a child, I loved Aladdin. If I got a letter from Princess Jasmine telling me that she needed my pacifiers so she could give them to the babies in Agraba, I would do it in a heartbeat.
5. Get your child involved. After you have read the letter out loud to your child, have them assist in the gathering of the bottles or pacis. It's like a scavenger hunt for them!
6. Repeat the concept. Repetition is key here. Remind your child why they are gathering their bottles or pacifiers, and tell them how excited the new babies will be when they receive their new gift! You want them to feel like they are the ones running the show. Also it helps, for when they do cry out for that bottle or pacifier, just say.. "Remember, you gave that to Santa?" So they aren't blaming you for "taking" it from them.
7. Praise them. I cannot stress this enough. Throughout the process, give them praise for their efforts. Let them know how thoughtful they are, and how Santa is going to be so proud of them when he sees how many bottles they've collected!
8. Give your child a gift they want. For the special surprise, I wanted to get Taylor something that was a practical upgrade from the bottles, so sippy cups were a natural choice. But it's hard for a toddler to get excited about a sippy cup. So I added things I know Taylor would want. She loves stickers, and she loves movies, so that's what she got. She is also learning to ride a scooter, so the helmet was an extra addition. If your child likes monster trucks, get them a couple to add to their collection. If it's movies, get them a new DVD that they have been wanting to watch. Whether it be a new toy or whatever, get them a gift they would want. Clothes don't really work in this scenario, unless your child is a fashionista, and would be excited over a new pair of shoes, then go for it.
So if you are tired of bottles, pacifiers, or anything your child has a bad habit of, I encourage you to try this method. If you do try this method, or if you have tried another method that has worked for you, I would love to hear about your experience in the comments section below. Remember it's all about your approach and your attitude! Good luck and happy breaking!