Children grow up too fast. As a mother of two, I hear it all the time. What else do I hear? The word when. As in, when did you potty train your son? Or, when did you stop nursing your daughter? And lately, when did you take away the bottle?
I haven't yet. My daughter is 22 months old, nearly two, and she still gets her milk bottle -- just like Suri Cruise, the oft-photographed daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
Does that make me a bad mother?
According to the celebrity weeklies, yes. Open any one of those magazines and there's a picture of gorgeous Suri, dressed to the nines, bottle in hand. Accompanying the photo, there's frequently a caption or article condemning the Cruises for allowing their little tyke to continue bottle feeding, proclaiming that Suri is in danger of malnourishment, tooth decay and even future psychological problems.
Don't believe the hype. If there is a peer-reviewed medical study that proves that a child who drinks from a bottle past the age of one is more likely to suffer from eating or behavioral issues than a child who learned to master the sippy cup by 12 months, I can't find it. And as for the tooth decay claims, Dr. Michel Cohen, a New York City pediatrician and author of The New Basics: A-Z Baby & Childcare for the Modern Parent, says that as long as a child doesn't suck on the bottle all day and night like a pacifier, there's little danger of tooth rot either.
I drank from a bottle until I was six years old. At the end I only used it at night and it contained water, not milk, but my parents did let me have one longer than most. And guess what? My dental health is better than average. I have one cavity, which I developed in my mid-twenties, and never needed braces. I was also a good athlete, rarely got sick and graduated near the top of my class in both high school and college.
Recently I had my bone density tested, and the technician said I had one of the best scores she had ever seen. Could it be that my strong bones have something to do with all those bottles of milk I drank as a child? Hmm. Something to think about, perhaps.
One thing is for sure: I intend to let my daughter drink from a bottle until I feel like the time is right to take it away. I certainly won't take my cues from a celebrity magazine -- and I hope Katie Holmes doesn't either.
If there's a when we mothers should be asking, it's when did we all forget how to follow our maternal instincts?