Q. "I have 10-month-old twin boys I am trying to wean from bottle to cup. For the past five days I've only given them a bottle after dinner. At breakfast and lunch I give them milk from a cup. The problem is, they only take 2-3 ounces with their meals, so I spend the mornings and afternoons trying to get them to finish the rest.
"Am I going about this properly or am I trying to wean them too early or too quickly? I don't think they miss their bottles; I'm just worried that they'll miss their milk."
A. Your boys aren't too young to be weaned, but they should have their milk with meals -- or go without it.
By begging them to drink it, you make them realize how much it matters to you, and they will push their cups away when they're cross with you, or when they want to get a treat. The first thing you know, they'll use those sips to make you obey.
It's not that your children are little schemers, but that they're normal people.
Every relationship has its tensions -- and its weapons. Parents and children have their own brand of warfare, often centering on toilet training, dilly-dallying or food. In your house, milk is about to become the weapon of choice for your little boys.
It shouldn't be an issue. Now that they are eating other foods, they need less milk. You can make up the difference with grilled cheese sandwiches or cubes of cheese -- always natural, not processed -- and with cottage cheese or yogurt with fresh fruit to make it interesting.
If your children seem thirsty between meals, give them water. This isn't a punishment: Water is the best thing a child can drink between meals, for it cleanses the body. Serve juice perhaps once a day, although a piece of fruit is better. Save the milk for mealtimes, with the rest of the food, at least for the next few years.
You may think your boys will get malnourished with so little milk, especially when they reach 2 and their appetites slow down as their growth slows. You'll find milk and everything else (except sweets) will be ignored often, but this is a temporary situation if you don't let it become a weapon.
In 10 or 12 years, when you're buying a gallon of milk a day, you'll wonder why you ever worried now.
Reader's comment: "As a young mother, I'd like to give my nickel's worth to Parents' Almanac.
"If you've got a little kid, and he rebels now and then, move that little body where you want it to go. It's forceful and loving at the same time, if you do it with a hug.
"It also helps to put young bodies through the motions of an activity when you teach something new. Sometimes a child doesn't understand exactly what you mean.
"And if your small child is stubborn about picking up toys, take her hand and 'help' her do it. Right away. You may miss the end of your TV show, but your child will learn that you mean what you say.
"Finally, treat young people with respect before you demand respect from them. You might feel silly saying 'please' and 'thank you' all day to your children, but this is how you get them to obey you."
Another: "A reader asked about the Mother's Day Out programs in Maryland. Here's another to add to the list: the Learning Center for Young Children at Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church, 10123 Connecticut Ave., Kensington. Now does anyone know where to find these baby-sitting programs in Virginia?"