Bottle Blues: Why Won't He Feed Himself?

I arrived home from work last night to a frazzled nanny. My teething boy was cranky all day long and had refused to eat, but the biggest problem was that he screamed every time she tried to get him to feed himself with his bottle or his sippy cup. Big deal, I thought trying not to roll my eyes. But clearly it was a big deal, I just didn’t get it yet. She schooled me on why it’s so terrible that my 11-month-old son won’t feed himself from a bottle or cup. “The baby is almost 1!” she criticized. “You’re going to have a real problem if you don’t fix this.”

OMG, now I got it. She left and I called Chris and let it all spill out in a panicked, breathless jumble. “Mason’s behind! What are we going to do?!” Now Chris was stressed out. “We’ve clearly dropped the ball somewhere along the way,” he said. “We have to work on it.” We hung up, action plan undetermined. I felt helpless so after Mason went to bed I did something that always relaxes me: I washed and chopped up every piece of fruit in the fridge and freezer and made 34 ounces of fruit puree for his oatmeal and yogurt.

I’ve been trying to get Mason to drink his formula independently for months and we’ve gotten nowhere.  It’s the same story over and over. I put the bottle down in front of Mason, he hunches over, and he sucks on the nipple hard. He doesn’t understand that he needs to tip the bottle back to get the milk so he swallows lots of air. Frustrated, he starts to scream. It’s a similar story with the sippy cup. You gave me great advice, we tested lots of cups, and the sippy cup with the straw works best but he isn’t sucking hard enough on the straw to actually bring up the milk. I show him what to do, actually drinking from the bottle and the sippy cup myself, but it doesn’t help. Finally I cave in and feed him.

Help! Have we blown it since Mason still hasn’t mastered self-feeding from the bottle or sippy cup yet?