Thursday, July 17, 2008

Difficult Transitions.

Lukas is set to move out of the infant room of his daycare on August 1st. It is an exciting time, as he prepares to transition from being one of the oldest children in the infant room, to being the youngest in the pre-toddler room. The daycare, to its credit, has done a good job of getting him ready for the other room with frequent trips this past month to hang out with the older kids. He visits first thing in the morning, plays outside in the pre-toddler play area, and recently even sat down at the miniature table and chairs to eat his lunch with them. It helps that he is walking like a champ and can hold his own against kids who are in some cases several months older than he is.

Mrs. LIAYF and I did have one recent daycare issue, though. Now that Lukas is past the one year mark, he is taking all fluids out of a sippy rather than a bottle. As soon as this transition occurred, they pushed us heavily to switch him to cow's milk during the day, rather than supporting our desire to continue feeding him breastmilk out of a sippy cup. This did not sit well with me, and especially not well with Mrs. LIAYF who is making a terrific effort to continue breastfeeding and pumping (and scalding her milk because of excess lipase), knowing how beneficial it has been shown to be for toddlers well into the second year and beyond.

Our daycare would give him the milk in a specific hard plastic sippy cup, which was different from the sippy we use at home, and when he wouldn't drink much of it, they immediately assumed that he didn't want the milk. They made statements to us like "He probably just wants what the other kids are having" or "He is trying to indicate that he is ready to move on to cow's milk." This was despite our insistance that we didn't witness the same reluctance at home and that we needed to give him a bit more time to adapt to their type of sippy. We got the distinct impression that they were trying to transition him for their convenience, not his. I actually had the infant room manager tell me that, they would have to give him cow's milk if he didn't start drinking the breast milk better out of a sippy. This was after only a couple of days without an actual bottle.

All of this was accompanied by an atmosphere where it was not actually said, but implied, that we were being difficult about this decision and that we should just get out of their way and let them do things the way they do for all the other kids. We had to endure a few snide little asides that were laughed off as jokes, odd looks from the staff, and a general sense of tension when I would go to visit or at pick up and drop off. All of this, and we never once raised our voices to them, or were anything but pleasant while dealing with the frustration. Mrs. LIAYF even got off work early a few days to come in to nurse Lukas at daycare and talk to the manager about the health benefits of extended breastfeeding.

Now, I do want to say that these are a very nice group of people who are doing a great job taking care of our son and we totally trust them with his care. The rub was with that fact that we wanted to continue to do what we thought was best for our son and doing so seemed to make things a bit more difficult on them. It was not the what 'normal' parents would do, so we met with resistance. It was uncomfortable, to say the least, for a several days.

In the end we sought out a solution. We asked that they try different cups with Lukas, and it was exactly what was needed. Once they gave him a different cup (one the pre-toddlers were using) and took out the cup's flow restrictor, he began drinking the breastmilk rather well and the situation eased. I applaud Mrs. LIAYF for being firm in her resolve about this. She kept me on point when I wanted to smooth things out and compromise where we had no business doing so. It is the type of decision that is not easy, but needed to be made for Luke's well being. I have learned something from her once again.

It certainly won't be the last time!


Anonymous said...

Well done for sticking with it.

If I were you i'd buy a big box of chocolates for the staff in order to "thank them for being so helpful" during the issue.

Yeah, ok, so they weren't. But you'll be surprised how much a big box of chocolates get rid of any lingering tensions

KristyCK said...

Glad you and Mrs.LIAYF did not compromised with them and eventually had it resolved the best for Luke. Well done!

SciFi Dad said...

Good on you. My wife breastfed until about 13 months and then transitioned her to a toddler formula for a bit before going to cow's milk. For my wife it was a personal decision to wean because she felt my daughter was getting too big to nurse.

My sister, on the other hand, nursed both her kids past three. It all depends what you find works best for your family.

Darren said...

Good job for holding firm. That daycare should be happy that you're involved parents who care and not just people who drop off a kid and expect them to raise your child.

Being us... said...

I am glad you stuck with it, as a breastfeeding mom I understand how beneficial it is for the little ones. I hope to be able to stick with it well into Jake's 2nd year as well.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to Mom to win this battle.

Jason Roth said...

Definitely stand your ground. These daycares are too quick to try and conform your child to make it convenient for them. That's not right.

Manager Mom said...

It's hard to strike that balance with the day care... good for you guys for holding your ground! Good luck with the transition...

Anonymous said...

As the previous comments state, you seem to have run into a particularly recalcitrant bunch that didn't have much interest in adjusting long-held policies and practices. That is unfortunate, and driven by the upper ranks of management. I use that term broadly, and "management" could mean a different thing depending on the size of the organization. I must digress.

It's encouraging that they were able to work with you at the end towards a compromise. Though I'm the father of a formula-fed child, I am celebrating on your behalf (if you don't mind!) what was ultimately a successful outcome, and encourage you as you tackle any future obstacles. I'm also happy that Ms. LIAYF -- and you -- were able make breastfeeding a reality for Lukas.

Great post, too. I'm sure there are plenty of families with daycare struggles of their own who can take away something from this post.

James (SeattleDad) said...

@Dan - We haven't tried the Chocolates yet, but a great idea that needs to happen. That is if we can get them delivered before eating them ourselves.

@BM - Thanks!. It is hard to stick to your guns sometimes, but worth it.

@Scifi - 3 might be pushing our limits, but each thier own.

@Darren - Thanks! It has amazed us how many parents just like that there are. It makes us look difficult for just wanting things done our way, even though the policy indicates that that we should be able to ask to be accomodated without issue.

@Mandy - Good luck to you too. we plan to let Lukas ween himself but he shows no signs of going that way. He knows a good thing.

@MTE - Mom wins most battles in this house, and outside it too!

@VegasDad - I agree. We are not paying them $1400 a month to cave and to conform.

@ManagerMom - I'm learning parenting is about striking lots of balances. Thanks for the well wishes.

@Rob - Sorry for the delayed response, busy weekend. I hope some families can take something away from reading these posts, that would be an added bonus. Yes, these daycare workers are not falling over themselves to make us feel like we are receiving top notch care, even though it is a great place.

The reason: The wait list to get in is 2 years! I think that is the reality of good daycare in this city and probably others as well. They won't think twice if we walk away. They will just go to the next on the list and forget about us rather quickly. It seems to be a fact of life here.