Discover when to introduce sippy cups and how to transition baby to sippy cup including tips on how to wean from bottle to sippy cup and introducing sippy cup to breastfed baby.
I have 3 kids, and I’ve nursed all my babies up until they are 11 months old. I know most doctors recommend trying to breastfeed your baby for a full year (or longer if you want), but I just can’t do the last month!! My babies love to eat food and drink water after 6 months, which is completely fine by me, and they lose interest in nursing around 11 months.
My son who just turned 2 was super attached to me when he was a tiny baby (he still is!) and I thought for sure he would nurse longer than my older girls did. But once he hit that 11-month mark, he was done too!
I really should have known that would happen, because when we gave him rice cereal mixed with breast milk for the first time at 5 months, he didn’t even reject it and spit it out like my daughters. He gobbled it up as fast as he could!
When my son hit 11 months, he realized that table food was just too dang good, and he would rather have cut up spaghetti than plain ‘ol breast milk. Not to mention cake!
I know some moms get a little wistful and nostalgic when their babies don’t nurse anymore, but I’m kind of the opposite. I breastfeed my baby because I know it’s important, but once they get teeth I’m not such a big fan.
I am always happy when they transition from strictly nursing 24/7 to soft baby food and sips of water. I enjoy not being their sole nutrient source, and I think it’s fun to see their reactions when they try new foods.
With my daughter who is almost 6 and my son who is 2, I was able to pump a few times during the day so they could take a bottle from time to time. Unfortunately, we waited too long to introduce the bottle with my second daughter (who is now 3), so this was her reaction when we gave it a go.
We tried many times to give her a bottle, but she would scream and cry every time, so I ended up exclusively nursing her. That meant I was over-the-moon ecstatic when I could give her a few sips of water at 6 months.
Since she never took a bottle, I gave her a sippy cup right away and it didn’t take too long for her to figure out how to drink from it!
In this post, I want to cover all the basics about sippy cups and help you find the right one for your baby!
The Importance of Training a Baby to Drink from a Sippy Cup
What’s so bad about bottles? And why do we even bother with a sippy cup? Why not just go from a bottle straight to a cup?
These are all real questions I’ve had before too!
Well, there are a few reasons why you should transition from bottle to sippy cup.
1. Bottles can cause Tooth Decay
Dental Health Associates of Madison say “The biggest cause of dental problems in young children is when a bottle with juice or milk is left in the bed with the child during the night. Doing so allows the sugars and carbohydrates in milk and juice to create cavity-causing bacteria that leads to tooth decay. It gives the bacteria hours to grow and cause dental problems that may put the child at a higher risk for life-long dental problems.”
These “life-long dental problems” include things like:
- Pain and infection
- Poor Eating habits
- Speech problems
- Crooked teeth
- Damaged adult teeth
Yes, even from this simple practice from their infancy!!
While the bottle itself isn’t bad, they often lead to prolonged use, including in your child’s bed overnight, without taking care of their teeth properly.
2. Most babies can’t hold a cup with two hands until they’re a lot older
Ever try to get your baby to drink from your cup at dinner? You have to hold it for them until they have enough muscle development and hand-to-mouth coordination to do it themselves.
Holding onto a sippy cup is a lot easier for babies and they are more used to sucking the water out than they are to actually drink the water straight from the cup.
3. Babies Can Get Attached to a Bottle
Many babies start looking at their bottle as a comfort-related item, like a blanket or pacifier, so it’s best to break the habit sooner rather than later. That way you don’t have to deal with screaming fits or temper tantrums if you left the bottle at home by accident.
When To Introduce Sippy Cup
I know there are a lot of first-time parents out there who wonder when it’s the best time to switch from using a bottle to a sippy cup.
Parents Magazine had the following advice about when to start a sippy cup. They said you can introduce a sippy cup to “a baby who can sit up by herself, hold her head up, and open her mouth for a spoon.”
Since babies usually can’t sit up until they are around 6 months old, you have to wait that long or longer until you introduce a sippy cup.
If your baby drinks from a bottle really well, you can put liquid such as water in the bottle for a little while, but your pediatrician will probably recommend you wean them from a bottle by the time they turn 1 year old.
How to Transition from Bottle to Sippy Cup
First, you have to show your kid how the new sippy cup works!
If your child doesn’t have older siblings that use sippy cups still, this may be a whole new alien thing you’re showing them, and you may have to demonstrate for them how it works.
The best thing to do is add a little bit of water or breast milk/formula in the cup, put it up to their mouth, and dribble a little bit onto their tongue. That shows your baby, “Oh, I drink this!”
You don’t have to take the bottle away immediately, either! You can slowly replace the bottle with a sippy cup at mealtime once a day, then a few days later twice a day, and so on.
Babies who are bottle fed can sometimes be more attached to a bottle than a baby who is breastfed, but the same concepts apply.
From Parents Magazine: “Sucking can be a way for babies to seek comfort, so offer a substitute lovey (say, a blankie or a stuffed animal) while he switches to cups. But then make sure you don’t let your child repeat the pattern and get overly attached to his new cup.”
Here are some other great tips from Baby Center that have worked for other parents.
- Put some breast milk or formula on the spout of the sippy cup before giving it to your baby.
- Give your baby about half a bottle that you would normally feed her, and then switch to a sippy cup halfway through for the remainder of the feeding.
- Take out the valve that controls the flow of the liquid so it’s not as much work for your baby to drink from.
- Give your baby a sippy cup with a straw instead of a spout. My kids have all loved drinking from a straw!
- Put water or juice in the sippy cup instead of breast milk or formula and see if they like that better.
Introducing Sippy Cup to Breastfed Baby
So what if you are breastfeeding and haven’t used a bottle? Are you still wondering when to introduce a sippy cup to breastfed baby?
The same guidelines as before apply – if your baby can sit up, hold up their head, and open up for a spoon, then it’s a great time to introduce a sippy cup to a breastfed baby. The advantage or disadvantage for you is that you don’t have to wean from bottle to sippy cup if you have exclusively breastfed and haven’t used bottles at all.
If you’re still mostly nursing, then the best time to offer a sippy cup is at meal time. This shows your child that this is the time where they eat food and can also drink if they want to.
Don’t panic if your child doesn’t show much interest in the sippy cup right away. Just continue offering it as an option.
Something that worked for me was bringing along water every time we went outside. Since it’s so hot here in Texas, it’s a good idea to constantly have water with you to keep you and your kids hydrated.
We’d go to the park to meet some friends and I’d bring my daughters’ Camelbaks and a sippy cup for my son. It wasn’t long before he would get thirsty, and toddle over to me to ask for water. I would hand him the sippy cup and he would drink from it. He eventually started to prefer drinking from my daughters’ Camelbaks instead, so my mom bought him one of his own.
Best Transition Sippy Cups for Breastfed and Bottle-Fed Babies
This has over 700 excellent reviews. It’s only $7.99 and it comes with handles, which is nice in the transition to sippy cup.
This transitions straw cup is available from Amazon, and is a little pricier at $9.99, but has great reviews, and it’s an “Amazon’s Choice” award winner.
The great thing about this cup is that it automatically seals when not in use, so you don’t need to worry about leaking. It’s less than $10 on Amazon and lets your child drink from anywhere on the rim, hence the name “360”.
A nice feature of this cup is that it doesn’t have a spout that will get mildew or mold in it that you have to clean periodically!
It’s dishwasher safe, and your kid will love the handles on the sides. About 3,500 customer reviews on Amazon say it’s worth it!
Not crazy about a plastic sippy cup and want to try something different? This sippy cup is insulated, so it will keep milk and water cold a lot longer than plastic.
It’s under $20 on Amazon, but you don’t have to worry about this cup getting a crack in it anytime soon since it’s made of stainless steel.
I know this Camelbak is not technically a sippy cup, but my kids have loved them. Also, you should know that kids will eventually bite through the straw, so it’s a good idea to purchase a few extra straws in advance!
Check out this list for more!
No matter which sippy cup you choose, I hope the transition goes smoothly for you and your child. Don’t freak out if your baby doesn’t like the one you picked out right away! There a lot of great options out there!