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How do I wean my triplets off the bottle?
Q: I have 3-year-old triplets, two boys and a girl. How do I wean them off bottles? One problem is that I don’t have the energy or patience to hear them cry. The more I give them sippy cups, the more they resist. They have shown an interest in potty training, but not in giving up bottles or dummys. Can you help?
Nikki Phoenix
A: One thing I often recommends to parents is to choose your battle carefully. It sounds to me as though you have chosen one whose outcome doesn’t matter. What does it really matter if they still want to drink out of bottles? My guess is that you worry that other people will think that they “ought” to be drinking out of a glass or that you are not a good mother because you can’t wean them.

If those things bother you, I’d negotiate. “OK, kids, the rule is that we drink out of bottles only when we’re at home. When we leave the house, the bottles stay here.” Don’t forget: You’re in charge. And I certainly wouldn’t worry about dummys. I’d keep a supply on hand attached to blue and pink ribbons and use them shamelessly in and out of the house. They may save you a lot of money on dental bills later.

Now for one other suggestion: With multiples, there is usually one who is a little more advanced than the others. In your case, I’d guess it is your daughter, for the simple reason that girls develop faster than boys in the first six years. Make her your Deputy of Developmental Advance. Work with her (or one of the boys) on the bottle issue and on toilet training. She or he will quite likely be more successful in gently pulling the other two ahead than you can be by pushing them.

Just to prove that I am qualified to offer these suggestions to you, Nikki, I will tell you that I am the mother of boy-girl twins. Nothing like triplets, I’m sure, but even with two, every developmental challenge had to be dealt with twice. It was never easy, but it was utterly delightful all the way.

Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education