Back in August, our pediatrician asked me how many ounces of milk the girls were drinking daily. After a moment of calculating the sippy cups throughout the day, I came up with a number over 32 ounces. She politely asked me to lower the amount of whole milk they were drinking down to 24 ounces a day since whole milk is fortified with vitamin D. Excessive amounts of vitamin D can raise the level of iron in the blood and can be harmful. I agreed.
Well, we are still working on limiting their milk intake. I haven't been very diligent in making this happen. The last few months have been so stressful with the move and my jobs that I haven't been following doctor's orders. Unfortunately, my little duo love their milk. They could do a "Got Milk?" ad anytime of the day because they usually have a sippy cup in one hand and are getting into trouble with the other. I do mix water into the equation throughout the day, too, and they don't get to drink fruit juice or soda.
As a result of all the milk drinking has come two little ones who don't want to eat during meal times. I am not unwise to the fact that whole milk is the culprit. After all, whole milk is filled with a good source of protein and fat. One full sippy cup of that stuff and who really would want their dinner? I tried a little swig one time and oh my...I drink soy milk and skim milk if I have to drink cow's milk. That stuff may as well have been heavy cream to me...
Finally this week I decided that it was time to enroll my girls in twinmama's Milk Drinkers Anonymous (MDA) program. I am limiting their milk intake to around 24 ounces a day (3 or 4 - 6 ounce cups). The rest of the time they receive water as normal. The trick to it is they cannot have this milk at mealtime. If given a plate of food and a sippy cup of milk, they will down the milk and then pick at the food. Instead, the milk is staggered between meals and they are served water at mealtime. The only exception to this rule is they are allowed to have a cup or two of milk at breakfast along with their cereal and fruit. This is usually the only source of protein they have in the morning.
The first day there was a baby backlash. I started the day off with a 6 ounce cup of milk along with their breakfast. When they finished this cup, they were offered another cup of milk to drink. At lunchtime, they were given water. When I gave them their cups, they both immediately began drinking. As soon as they took a couple gulps, they realized what it was and sat it down. Peanut tried to hand the cup back to me giving me a look like, "I think you gave me the wrong cup, mom. Try again." Jelly Bean just got really ticked and tried to hand me the cup. When I refused to take either and walked away, sippy cups hit the floor. There were howls of disapproval and cries of frustration. I calmly got their food and laid it down before them. Some food was brushed away as they protested, but again, I calmly got my plate for lunch and my water and sat down at the table with them to eat.
At some point when they realized that twinmama wasn't going to give in, they both started picking at their lunch. After a moment or two, I calmly got up and picked up their sippy cups and placed them back on their trays. They both ate their lunches and had some water. I couldn't believe it. Peanut was always a good eater until lately, but Jelly Bean is horrible about eating and for her to eat her entire meal was proof that their milk drinking habits were getting in the way of them having other important food.
After lunch, they typically play and then settle in for an afternoon nap. After their nap, I allowed them their third cup of milk along with a little snack. They chugged their milk down. Once they finished, they both handed me their cup and said, "More?" while doing the sign language for the word, too. Instead, I got them some water. Again, there was a revolt. Water cups hit the floor and babies flopped on the floor next to the cups sobbing. You would have thought that I was starving these children.
A little while later it was dinner time and we got to experience the lunch stand off all over again. Again, they threw fits over the tasteless liquid that was presented to them, but both girls did decent jobs eating their meals. After dinner, they can have a sippy cup of milk as long as it isn't too late. I stop giving them liquids an hour before bedtime to avoid leaky diapers.
It has been almost a week since I began their "treatment" program and both girls are eating better at meal time. They are getting a healthful and fulfilling amount of whole milk to supplement their diet, but it is not their entire diet. I blame myself for allowing the girls to have too much milk. It was just too easy when one of them would cry. I knew that a sippy cup of milk would calm a crabby baby and I used that method way more than necessary.
I have been thinking a lot about this and I am glad that I am changing this habit. Knowing myself, this is something that I need to do, too. I have often used food as a crutch for a bad day or a sad moment. Sweets are my weakness, but they are also my nemesis because I know they are not healthy for me. I turn to them when I can't seem to cope with something. I have made whole milk into the girls' crutch when they are sad and can't communicate to me what they need.
This has to stop. For all of us.
So, last week, I set out to make my girls' diets healthier. This next week, I need to do the same for me. Time to drop the crutch and find healthful ways to deal with the blues. I want my girls to be healthy and make good decisions so they live enjoyable, long lives.
And it would be good if I do the same so I can see it all happen.