Transitioning To a Sippy Cup

Sippy cups, or training cups, are used to transition baby from breast or bottle to a regular cup. As babies develop on their own terms some may be ready for a sippy cup sooner than others. Other babies may not show interest in a sippy cup until after their first birthday while some just skip it and go straight to a regular cup.

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Generally, babies are ready to begin drinking from a cup between 7 and 9 months. This is usually when most babies begin eating finger foods. On a parent forum, I recently surveyed a group of moms asking when they started transitioning to a sippy cup with their babies.

46% said they first introduced the cup to their babies between 4 and 6 months.
32% said they offered the sippy cup between 7 and 9  months.
13% said they started a cup around 10 to 12 months.
While 9% reported waiting until after their baby’s first birthday to make the transition.

For mothers who exclusively breastfeed, the introduction of the cup varied slightly as most mothers reported transitioning to a sippy cup when their babies were old enough for water or juice (at 6 months). Others said they just skipped a training cup completely as their babies never took bottles and used regular cups or ones with straws. Out of exclusively breastfeeding mothers, I conducted a poll yielding these results:

61% said they gave their babies a training cup between 4 and 6 months.
20% said they introduced a sippy cup between 7 and 9 months.
11% reported giving their children a sippy after 10 months.
8% of them said they just skipped sippy cups altogether and went straight to a regular open cup.

Transition to the Cup

While some babies have no problem making the adjustment to a training cup, others take a little more time to get the concept. Here are some tips for transitioning to a sippy cup.

  • Use a soft spout to start your baby off with, such as silicone nipple-like spout, which is a little easier for babies to adjust to than the hard, plastic spouts
  • Assist your baby with drinking from a cup by showing them how to lift it to their mouth and tip it to sip
  • Be patient and take your time. You may want to start off with water rather than milk or formula to avoid messes. Some babies are not ready to make the adjustment until later so don’t try to force them into it.
  • Try different brands and types of cups if your baby seems to have a difficult time with drinking. They may take preference to a particular type of cup. (Mine both took really well to the Nuk Learner Cups)

Some babies will only want water or juice from a cup and refuse milk from anything other than a bottle. The American Dental Association suggests making the transition to cups by 12 months to prevent tooth decay. If you are having a difficult time with your little one transitioning to a sippy cup here are a few tips you can try:

  • Try dipping the tip of the spout in milk or formula to help them understand what’s inside.
  • Hold your baby as you would when bottle-feeding or nursing and offer the sippy cup. Some parents report ‘tricking’ their baby into it by saying it’s time for a ba-ba or letting them suck on a bottle nipple first then switching it out.
  • If your baby will drink water or juice but not milk, try enticing them by adding flavors to the milk (when they are ready for whole milk, usually at the age of 1) such as strawberry or chocolate. If you are concerned about the sugar, you can also try a chocolate flavored Step 2 infant formula that is specifically formulated for toddlers so it’s healthier than regular chocolate milk.

Reference: Sippy Cup Dos and Dont’s

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