My three-year-old still likes his bottle, and I’m ok with that

Toddlers and bottles | Money Savvy Living


“Every child is different.”

“We need to allow our children to be themselves.”

“Everyone parents a little bit differently and that’s ok.”

“You have to do what’s best for your family.”


These are some of the expressions that you will hear parents say. Everything in the parenting world is flowers and butterflies until you try to apply these expressions to certain aspects of parenting. By certain aspects of parenting, I mean: potty-training, giving your kid a pacifier, or how long you let them have a bottle.


By age one, you are supposed to put your kids on whole milk and take away a bottle. If you allow your kid to have a pacifier at age two you clearly don’t care about your child’s dental health. And if your kid isn’t fully potty-trained before they turn three, then you are just a lazy parent. Well, that’s what a lot of parental bystanders will say.


Why, all of a sudden, do we go from tolerant, loving people, encouraging parenting each child differently and doing what is best for the family, to a judging, accusatory society that attacks any parenting style that doesn’t align with the arbitrary standards of what we are supposed to do?


There are examples of this everywhere. But this one hits home for me:


Recently, Melissa Joan Hart posted a photo on Instagram of her napping toddler.  She captioned the picture: “Sometimes I have flashes where I can see my boys 20 years in the future. Especially when they do these grown men things like hands down the pants. PS someone needs a hair cut on his giant head”.  So what is wrong with this?  Well, the napping boy happened to have a pacifier in his mouth—and social media went crazy criticizing her parenting style for allowing her son to still have a pacifier.


Really, people don’t have anything better to do than criticize that??


Photo via Instagram: @melissajoanhart

Photo via Instagram: @melissajoanhart


And they probably won’t have anything better to do than criticize me either.


My son is 3½ years old. For the most part, he is potty trained (although, that just recently became the case, but that is a different story), but he still likes to drink his milk from a bottle. He is fine drinking water or juice from a sippy cup, a cup with a straw, or even an open cup (with a little help so he doesn’t spill). But when he comes home from preschool and says in that cute little voice, “Mom, I want a ba (his term for bottle) and snuggle.” I mean, seriously, who can say no to that? I don’t even want to say no. I actually sort of bask in the fact that my three-year-old wants to sit still for a few minutes and snuggle with me—because Heaven knows he is moving at the speed of lightning the rest of the day.


Now, don’t get me wrong, we have tried to get him to give up his bottles. For two days, all I offered him was milk in a sippy cup. He ate meals normally, refused to drink milk at all, and cried so much he worked himself into several naps both days—and that is highly unusual. We have offered prizes and sticker charts. We even went so far as to have Santa ask him to give up his bottles. Now you would think that most children would be mesmerized by Santa and be willing to do anything that he would ask. Not my little boy. He very adamantly told Santa “NO!”



While our tactic didn’t work, it was kind of funny to watch the scenario play out.


Should he still have a bottle? Probably not… but really, how is this harming him? Will it somehow cause physical or psychological damage to him that I have allowed him to drink milk from a bottle for this long? No. Does he need a bottle in public or does it restrict his everyday activity? No. Does he only want to drink milk from his bottles and neglect his other food, which he needs in order to get a well-balanced diet? No.


My three-year-old still likes his bottle and I'm ok with that | Money Savvy Living


So when I ask myself these questions and find that the answer is “No” to each one, I relax a little bit and have decided that it’s ok. Eventually, when he is ready—as we keep encouraging him to drink milk from a sippy (yes, I am one of those parents that thinks that learning is a process)—he will give up his bottles.



  • I think you asked yourself some good questions. Really, each of these decisions is so personal and based on what is best for each child. And really, in a few years…will it matter? As long as things like his teeth are developing okay, etc., then you know your child best. We all need more grace and less judgment in this whole parenting business. Nice post and reminder! Blessings from “Espressos of Faith”!
    Bonnie Lyn Smith

  • You captured beautifully that each child is DIFFERENT and develops differently and different ages! Wow, I learned that when I had my second child… they are all different! Great article!

  • Great post! With my son close to turning 2 (just under a month), he still uses his pacifier and is nowhere close to being potty trained. I couldn’t agree more with the statement you made about being such an accusatory society based on arbitrary standards of what we are “supposed” to be doing. You do what works for you, plain and simple. If your child is healthy and happy, that’s what truly matters. We all have our vices. He will eventually be ready, on his terms, to let go of the ‘ba’, but when they grow up as fast as they do, it’s hard not to hold onto that tiny remaining piece of their innocence. You’re doing a great job, mama. Thanks for being vulnerable and honest, sharing what “real” life looks like during parenthood!

  • I believe parents have to do what’s best for their children. It’s easy for others to pass judgement, but they are not raising that child. Like you stated, each child is different, only the parents know what’s best.

  • As I said to my daughter who became a new mum last year – do what you feel is right for your child. Yes it won’t always be easy as everyone as a point of view however you know your child best of all. Thanks for sharing at #AnythingGoes link up.

  • My son was dx with type one diabetes at 21 months old. He will turn 4 in mid June. We have to give him carbs regularly at night to keep him alive if his BG starts to drop. The perfect way to do this is having him drink milk from a bottle without even waking up. Like your son, he will only drink milk from a bottle. He drinks water from a regular cup. I’ve started to get stressed about this and even worried and embarrassed because he will be turning 4 soon. Thanks for the good article. It helped me to relax a little and not worry about this unimportant issue so much!

    • Thanks for stopping by Bethany! Some kids need their pacifier longer, some kids carry around a stuffed animal for a quite a while, if it is something that gives your child comfort and is not impeding normal development, I personally think it’s ok 🙂 They eventually give it up on their own anyways…

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