Thursday, October 11, 2007

Drinking Problem

As I've mentioned in some of my previous blogs, I'd been trying to get our son to hold his bottle on his own. He's finally able to do so.

It took a while to get him to do it. When I would feed him bottles, he would put his arms out in a swan-dive position, flailed out to his sides. I got sick of his laziness and took his hands and held them to the side of the bottle.

At first, he resisted. There was some screaming and yelling, electro-shock therapy, Chinese water torture, and sheer force and will. Finally, he began to see things my way and started holding the bottle. The hardest part for him was understanding the equal opposing force application needed from both hands to keep the bottle stable. There was also the question of hand position. If he kept his hands further toward the base, it would feel lighter. If he kept his hands closer to his mouth, it would be easier to tilt as the volume decreased to keep the flow to the nipple consistent. We take all of this for granted when chugging beers.

All of this had to be done with my assistance and persistence, as I am an expert. Finally, about a month ago, I started setting the bottle in front of him. First, I set it in front of him and positioned his hands, helping him grasp the bottle and bring it up to his mouth. After only a few days, he was able to pick it up by himself. He fell backward a few times, but we were prepared with a pillow behind him. (There are only so many skills you want to work on at a time and only so much punishment he should take when trying to master an indirectly related skill.)

Then there was the question of his pacifier in his mouth at mealtime. I would give him his bottle and laugh as he would put the nipple up to his mouth, but it was impeded by the pacifier. He would keep bumping the nipple against the pacifier, not really certain what the problem was. After getting my laughs, I would rip out the pacifier and allow him to drink. Recently, though, he's figured out that the pacifier is an impediment. His solution was to pick up the bottle, release the pacifier so it simply falls out of his mouth, and then inserts the bottle. It was not as I had envisioned - taking the pacifier out by hand, then picking up the bottle - but equally effective.

I believe he prefers holding the bottle himself these days. He can take it out of him mouth if he wants a break (and does so frequently.) He can let us know when he's finished.

He has begun to sign that he's finished with his bottle, as he does not finish its entirety every time. He still drops it from time to time. If he's done, though, he'll wave his hands like he's flapping wings for takeoff. The message is clear. As part of our Baby Signs reinforcement, I say, "All done," and move my hands in the "correct" manner.

There are many other skills that he is practicing. Some he will master sooner, others later, and others he will never master, though he may learn to get by. The best bet as his parent is to try different methods of teaching, patience, and persistence. When that fails, I recommend tickle torture.

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