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3 year old boy drinks bottle
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3 year old boy drinks bottle

Hello...

I am a concerned Mother, who I believe has let my child learn to control me.  He is the sweetest little boy, but he is very hyper most of the time, I put that off as his age.  My concerns are this, he is still drinking a bottle, mostly at night or when he is very very tired, it is like a comfort thing to him.  Since he drinks so much milk I believe it has made him a terrible eater.  I am very concerned about this.  I can't hardly get him to eat anything, he is borderline anemic, but takes a multi-vitamin a day. (he enjoys this)  He only eats about 7-10 food items, french frys, Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Macaroni and Cheese, ice-cream, Meatloaf TV Dinners, Chips, Ginger Cookies, Crackers, Chicken Fingers (sometimes), eggs (sometimes), Cream of Chicken Soup, and Ramen Noodles.  That is all I can get him to eat, he will not try new things, and he has never ate a meal that I have cooked, except for maybe corn.  I am frustrated and very worried about his health.  I make him breakfast, Lunch and Dinner every day, and very rarely he will eat, I sometimes have to make a game out of it to make him eat.  I know he gets filled up on milk every night and I don't know if that is the problem.  My husband and I argue about the bottle all the time.  I want it gone, but it has became a family strugle.  Also if we take the bottle away, what if he gets no nourishment?  Also the only other thing he will drink is Pop.  I know that is terrible, but he helps him self.  I just want him to eat.  Also I haven't been able to potty train him, because he drinks to much milk and its hard to potty train him when he is drinking that much.  Please Help, any advice would be appreciate.  Like I said I just want him to be healthy, I wish he would try new foods.

Thanks again and Happy Holidays
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Melissa,
   Thank you for your inquiry.  I do have a few suggestions.  First - I would recommed weaning your child from the bottle right away - especially the bedtime  bottles.  There are 2 very real concerns.

One - nutritionally, if your son is drinking most of his diet, his nutritional balance will be effected.  Milk is a wonderful food source, but it is not a complete source of nutrition.  I wonder if your child would eat better if he were not filling up on milk.  Fact is - too much milk can contribute to an anemia, as there is no iron in dairy products.  As far as your son's limited food selections are concerned - many toddlers and preschoolers do more grazing than real eating.  Many only eat 3-4 really good meals a week - and do fine.  Discuss with your child's doctor his growth, development, and nutritional needs. But I suspect that when the bottle is taken away - your son might eat better.  If he is still picky - usually a daily multivitamin containing iron can fill in any blanks. Again - I would suggest talking with your child's doctor.

Secondly - bottles, especially at bedtime, contribute greatly to "bottle caries" - meaning cavities resulting from the milk sitting on your child's teeth and then leading to tooth decay.  This can be major. I have had patients who require general anesthesia for severe cavities - resulting from nighttime bottles. So - I would encourage you to give this some thought.

Weaning from a bottle can be painful.  There is no doubt about that.  I would suggest going cold turkey - giving it to another
baby - or just removing it from the house.  Your son  will protest, for sure - but I am guessing not for long.  If he finds his thumb for a sucking substitute - I would much rather he use that over a bottle.  
Good luck - Hope this helps -  Dr. EV
4 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
First thing is first.....don't blame your parenting techniques...parenting is a learning process...no one gets it right the first time around. My 3 yr old son still takes a bottle <only to bed>...my Dr has assured me this will not affect him negatively in the long run. Taking the bottle away from your son will not cause him to starve...on the contrary...with less milk in his stomach he should be more apt to eat foods. Try this approach.....fix him a square meal and place it in front of him. Let him eat what he chooses from the plate...and when he is finished...let him go. But do NOT offer him something else. He needs to learn that we eat what is put in front of us. YOU need to allow him to try new foods by cooking them for him and offering them to him. Again..if he doesn't eat them at first...don't lose hope.....many children learn to eat different foods over a long period of time. Good luck with your son .

                            Been There Done That
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Avatar_n_tn
One thing I've learned in raising my children, is that if they will only eat or drink certain things that I really don't want them to, then the best thing is not to buy it.  If he will only drink pop, then stop buying it.  If it's not in the house then he can't have it.  He will probably throw a major tantrum when he realizes that he can't have any, but then you can offer something else.  If he doesn't want it, then don't push it, but don't give in to the pop.  Always remember to remain calm when negotiating food and drink.  He won't try anything new you fix because he knows he will always get what he wants anyway, so why try?  Mealtime should never be a battle and I know it's hard not to turn it into one.  A new food is an unknown to a young child and it's natural for them to reject it.  By the time our fourth child came along my husband and I learned a whole lot from the other children around mealtime.  What was the most effective was to let the child see mommy AND daddy (if possible) eat the new food all the while making comments about how wonderful it tastes.  Then trying saying something like, "Matthew is such a big boy.  I bet Matthew can take one bite of the mashed potatoes just like daddy."  If he does, give some praise for trying, but don't overdo it.  If he doesn't, then, as controversial as this may be, say, "If you take one bite of the mashed potatoes, then you can have one chicken finger."  Why this is effective, if it works, is that it gets the child to at least taste the food and a lot of times once they taste it, they can decide if they like it or not.  With my kids, once they tasted something new, most of the time they liked it so well they kept eating it.  If he takes one bite of the food you offer and you give him one bite of the chicken fingers as a "reward", then cut another deal for a second bite of the potatoes.  Sometimes playing these kind of "games" are necessary.  I would slowly wean the bottle away at night too.
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Avatar_n_tn
Must agree with the other comments regarding the eating.  As long as your son KNOWS that you are worried and will provide him with what he wants, then you will never get him to eat what is good for him.  I've been through this with my two kids.  If I allowed them to push me around, I'd be the busiest short-order cook in town!!!  They hate everything I make.  I usually cook whatever I like and I try to add one thing to the meal I know they will like (mac & cheese, plain white rice, etc).  I give them a VERY little bit of it along with the stuff they hate.  If they want more mac & cheese, they must finish the other stuff.  Not as easy as it sounds and it took lots of time to get to that point--lots of nights they went to bed hungry.  I agree that the milk is killing his appetite and is probably causing the anemia.  Since this is a problem it needs to be stopped.  The best advice I ever got was from my pediatrician.  When my daugther was 13 months old I was at her checkup and the doc asked me if she was still using a bottle to which I replied "yes."  He said "why?".  I didn't really have a good answer.  He said that she was old enough to use a cup, no longer required nighttime nourishment, and that all it was now was a "habit."  The longer I let it go on, the harder it would be to stop it.  So, I immediately "cut" her off, and within a week she was over it.  I waited until my son was about 16 months before I stopped his and it was a little bit of a rocky road to get him to stop, so I can imagine that, at 3, you are in for some major tantrums.  But, I can see by your post that you recognize this and are aware that you are being manipulated by your child---SOOOO, it's time to play hardball!!!!  Developmentally, there really is nothing wrong with a bottle; however, since it is so obviously affecting his diet, you really need to stop it.  Nothing with kids is easy, but keep in mind that you have to be tougher than him or you've got a long road ahead of you.
Christine
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