If you read my blog at www.scienceandsensibility.org on September 15th then you read my stance on bottles. If you haven’t had a chance to read it might I suggest you peruse that one before starting here? As here I would like to approach the topic from a different angle.
There have been some brilliant marketing campaigns over the year—campaigns that have sucked women into doing the craziest things—look at the cosmetic surgery industry—huge! Look at smoking—“respectable” women did not smoke, as a rule, before they were latched onto during the First World War. Smoking was marketed as part of our emancipation and chance to be more like men! What about commercials for laundry detergent, household cleaning products—where do you think we get the name Soap Opera?
But one you really gotta admire is that of the bottle makers. Baby-bottle makers, that is.
Here we have been cruising happily along for thousands of years, transitioning our babies from the breast (the mother’s or a wet nurse) to a cup (and not a sippy cup I might add!) and all of a sudden we need something different? Something more expensive, harder to get because we now need to go to a store vs. our own cupboard;, harder to clean –have you noticed all the bottle-cleaning brushes, the bottle-sterilising equipment, the manufactured “need” for sterilising in the first place? Something that has not been proven safe for the baby: not only does it raise the heart rate and breathing rate and decrease the oxygen saturation in newborns but the baby uses muscles differently on the bottle than at the breast. Furthermore, the bottle may have an effect on the baby’s hard palate possibly changing it forever, and it has the potential to change the shape of baby’s upper maxillary (the area above the upper lip) forever. As well, teeth come in differently and with different timing because of the bottle. Furthermore, we have had scares like BPA in the plastic—but is that the end of it? Will there be a new scare because of the newer BPA-free plastic? But I digress….
So what about this “need”? How did the wool get pulled over our eyes? Where did it come from? I would say that the majority of mothers I see (and I see tons of mothers) have been told at sometime, “You better make sure your baby knows how to take a bottle early on otherwise s/he may never take a bottle!” What that really means is, “If you don’t get your baby take a bottle you will be chained to him/her forever and you will never get any freedom and never get to go anywhere by yourself and you will lose all autonomy and identity as a woman, a wife/partner, professional, mother to your other kids, etc.”
Is this true? If your kid never takes a bottle does that mean you will never have freedom? I don’t think so. In fact, I know this NOT to be true. We all have different ways of mothering and so “freedom” means different things to different mothers. It’s time to take the wool away from our eyes and see that we can be free, strong, independent, and professional women and still mother our babies in a way that meshes our lifestyle choices with the needs of our babies.
Here are my suggestions for alternatives to the baby being fed by a bottle:
1] Many women find ways to conveniently bring the baby along: wrapping baby up in a baby wrap or carrier and taking the baby along (who will likely sleep very well carried like this) and mother’s hands are free to shop, work, and do anything really, except drive a car, of course.
2] A mother who uses a nanny or other caregiver/helpers can take that caregiver with her and the baby and keep the caregiver off in the wings somewhere, texting/paging/calling her when the baby needs to eat.
If it is necessary or desired that the baby be left with someone else:
3] Some women time their outings around baby’s feedings, keeping their errands short;
4] Others have baby fed with a cup (not a sippy cup because that can cause the same challenges as a bottle);
5] Have the baby fed solids (after around 6 months if exclusively breastfed, earlier if there are weight issues or other challenges; and after 3 months if supplemented with artificial baby milks)—mother’s milk or the supplement can be added to the solids—the kid does not need to drink the supplement, just consume it.