I don’t know that I have any technical kind of parenting style. I mostly determine what my child needs and try to come up with the most reasonable way to fulfill that need. Much of the time I end up being a bit “crunchier” than I imagined I would be (hello floor bed), sometimes not. I never read a single page of a parenting book because I just sort of figured that since my baby had also not read the book that it would be better to use him as my guide. And 14 months in, it has worked really well.
I have very few hard and fast rules for Eli or for us in regards to him. There is no playing on beds. There is no walking in the bathtub. We don’t take Eli out in public when he’s overtired unless it’s unavoidable. We remove him from the situation when he throws fits in public. We try to make sure he gets enough sleep, but we are also not so rigid we can’t enjoy a day away.
There are still occasionally issues that I struggle with.
I didn’t plan to use bottles, I don’t think I even owned any when Eli was born. Everyone told me not to buy a bunch since we didn’t know what kind he’d want or how he’d even take to them. And instead, he refused to latch at all and survived and thrived exclusively on them. At our 12 month check up, our pediatrician told us to start weaning off the bottle and onto a sippy or straw cup. My husband wanted to start even a bit earlier, but I told him I wanted to wait until we finished transitioning him to whole milk. It’s been 2.5 months and truthfully, I still have no desire to make this transition. And it’s not just because I’m lazy.
Eli loves his bottles. Loves them. One day when I attempted to give him a sippy cup of milk before nap, he absolutely fell apart. He cried and cried because he was so tired and just wanted his bottle. In an attempt to not just entirely give in, and at my husband’s suggestion, that day I offered him a bottle of water or a sippy of milk so that he could decide. I have never seen anyone drink water as happily as Eli did that day.
I understand that everyone says that it’s way easier to drop the bottle now. I understand that it’s likely that I’m going to face a great struggle later, but…I don’t care. I don’t give Eli everything he wants, not by a long shot. I choose to pick my battles and this is one I will not pick right now. The consequences of having a bottle beyond a year (up to a point) are virtually nil. He drinks a maximum of 3 bottles a day, and we’ve already transitioned the least beloved one to a (very) soft spout sippy and it’s going fine.
But beyond that, it’s just not pressing to me. He finds great comfort in his bottles and it’s often the only few minutes a day that he will sit, relaxed and snuggly with us, and frankly, I’m not ready to give that up either. Sometimes when I read about the things I’m “supposed” to do, I think about how though these 14 months have only been a tiny sliver of my life, they’re all Eli has ever known. He doesn’t know a life without morning and evening snuggles and bottles. He doesn’t know a life without pacifiers. And so while it may be “best” by the book to get rid of these things, it just doesn’t feel best in practice right now at all.
I realize that this makes me sound like a pushover, or like I cater exclusively to my child’s whims and though I know it to be untrue, I’m okay with that appearance. It matters very little to me what anyone else thinks of my parenting because I know that I have a very happy, well adjusted little boy, who knows he is loved and who loves freely. He has boundaries that work for him and for us and that’s really all that matters to me. I don’t want to parent my child with lines in the sand or rules that someone else wrote and set upon him when my heart says something different. And maybe I want to cling to the little pieces of baby that are left inside my tiny little toddler.