[I’m promoting this question from ‘onlyash’ from her comment in another post. Hope she doesn’t mind.]
Here’s a great question from ‘onlyash’ that I wanted to try to crowdsource.
“I am a mom to a former micro preemie and I have contacted you before and your suggestions have always helped me, she is 4 now and still drinks water from a bottle. Do you have any suggestions or tricks you have used with the J-Man that you can share here.”
I’m not sure I have much in the way of great insights to share, but I’ll take a stab at a few from our experience. Those of you with particular experience with this, please share your wisdom in the comments.
We had a roller-coaster of results with bottles back in the day. Our J-Man was an ‘extended nurser’ in that he still breastfed a little until he was around preschool age. When Mary worked outside our home, I fed – or tried to feed – him pumped milk from a bottle for a long time. Sometimes this would work great; many times he’d go on bottle strike. This became an urgent problem because he really wouldn’t eat much of anything else. His diet was limited to a small number of pureed things, and even then what he’d eat or whether he’d eat them at all varied depending on mood. We were regularly frightened that he wasn’t getting enough vitamins, calories, or much nutrition in general.
We started feeding therapy with him when he was nine months old. His oral sensitivities and aversions are the stuff of legend. Getting him to let us put anything at all in his mouth took months of therapy. Even now, what he will eat is very limited.
Most of that journey is another story entirely, but with respect to drinking liquids back in those days that weren’t pumped breastmilk from anything other than a bottle, we tried all sorts of things. One thing worth noting here is that he never did sippy cups. This wasn’t because of anything we did. He just hated them and wouldn’t have anything to do with them. We’re all pretty sure it was from the ‘I don’t want anything weird in my mouth like a spout unless it’s attached to Mama’ kind of thing.
Now he drinks from these plastic, kid-sized, open travel cups. (We don’t use the spouted lids at all.) They’ve gotten him to take some drinks from different cups at school, but he’s pretty attached to our cups. Also worth noting that he almost solely drinks lightly-sweetened, decaffeinated, iced tea. Very recently he’s agreed to take a few sips of milk.
Here are some things we’ve tried.
* We eventually got him to experiment with a cup by getting acrylic shot glasses from a party store. I think they were like a dollar apiece. They’re indestructible and only hold about an ounce of liquid. If he spilled whatever was in it, no big deal. Plus it was smaller and fit better in his hands and mouth. He was probably about 18 months give or take at that point, but this is something worth trying for just about any age.
* We played with cups (started with those shot glasses and worked our way up) in the bathtub, tried to pour some water around and on his face some, and occasionally got some on his lips. We let him experiment with the cups, too, filling them with water and pouring them out, etc. Obviously we did this before soap or shampoo got in the water. We tried to make a game of it or at least make it as fun as possible. It took a lot of time, but eventually this started helping his comfort level and willingness to experiment with cups.
* He was very reluctant to let us put the cup near his mouth (as he is with about anything), so this took a lot of patience. Like many things, he wants to be in control of what is near him.
* We eventually tried heavier glasses like small jars that could withstand being dropped. With the J-Man’s sensory issues, he responds better to heavier objects. The weight often calms him. For the longest time, this was all he’d drink out of, but hey, he was drinking out of an open cup! Eventually he worked up to the travel cups.
FYI – The above are mostly from before he turned 3.
* When we want to attempt something new, we try to structure it with some sort of visuals and/or social story. With new foods or drinks, we’ll either use a written schedule-type story to indicate what he’s expected to do or use a visual that shows the same. For instance, for the written story:
1. J-Man is going to drink some milk from a new cup.
2. Take a sip.
3. Take a sip.
4. Take a sip.
5. Take a sip.
6. Take a sip.
7. J-Man is finished!
Seems redundant perhaps, but the point is that every time he takes a sip, we cross off that step. You can obviously do this with pictures, too. For instance, every sip they take from the cup you want them to drink from, you could remove one of the pictures. When all the ‘take a sip’ pictures are gone, they’re done.
I think both the structure and knowing when they’re going to be done with this task they clearly would prefer not to do helps get them started and actually doing it. Even that may take time, but persistence and much patience can pay off. The hope is that they will realize it’s not so bad and perhaps even like it.
So how did you get your child to transition to cups, try new drinks, or taste new foods? Please leave a comment and share your wisdom!