Helping your tot give up drinking from a bottle and teaching him to drink from a cup is an important — yet sometimes tricky not to mention messy — milestone. Here's how to make it a little easier…
When should I move my baby to a cup?
Moving your little one from a bottle to a cup can be quite a fiddly time and something that little ones can take to right away, or may need lots of support and encouragement. ‘Babies are usually ready for a cup from around six to eight months, but some babies are not interested until they are over 12 months,’ says Fi Star-Stone, a baby expert and author of The Baby Bedtime Book (G2 Entertainment, £9.99). Go by your baby – every child is different.
‘It’s important to move to a cup, because if your little one spends all day slurping on a bottle of milk or juice, it could lead to serious tooth decay,’ says Fi. It also means there's less room for baby foods, which hold more nutrients.
How can I make the transition from bottle to cup easy?
Many parents worry about moving their little ones from bottle to cup because of they’re worried the change will mean they’ll reject the cup completely. ‘Often the comfort of breastfeeding or bottle feeding can cause reluctance to accept a sippy cup, so it's important not to make it a big deal, and just introduce the idea gently,’ says Fi. She suggests these tips for making the move easier.
Pick the right time
Try introducing the cup at lunch and tea-time rather than breakfast when your little one is very hungry, and keep the evening milk before bed as a breast or bottle feed until they are a little older as it's more comforting than a cup.
Invest in some sippy cups
It's a good idea to shop around when it comes to buying cups as your baby may prefer some cups over others. It's a learning experience for you both. Start with a slow-flowing sippy cup that limits the flow of liquid from the cup. This will make choking on fluid less likely, which is a common cause of cup rejection.
Dip the tip of the cup spout into your baby's breast milk or formula and then give it to your baby to try.
Show your little one the way
Children love to copy, so take a sip from a sippy cup yourself and offer your baby one for himself. Siblings also come in handy when introducing cups - let him help by showing his younger sibling how to drink ‘like a big boy’.
Try different liquids
Some babies will only take water from a sippy cup, preferring the breast or bottle for breast milk or formula. Don't worry, this is normal, just encourage regular tries of the cup. When your baby is 12 months and over, a sippy cup is a great way of introducing cows milk. You can warm it a little first – this often makes toddlers accept sippy cups more easily.
Moving from a sippy cup to a normal cup
Make a big deal out of drinking from a regular cup, and how it’s for grown-ups. Try taking your toddler shopping to pick out his own big kid cup and have a symbolic ‘throwing away of the sippy cup’, in much the same way you might do when getting rid of a dummy.
Try only serving your toddler’s favourite drink in an open cup, and saving the sippy cup for water. If this happens to be juice, make sure it’s diluted. A straw is a good way to help your toddler transition from a sippy cup to normal cup. And don’t stress about the mess as accidents will happen, just encourage your toddler to help you clean up.