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!