(Last Updated on 16 August 2022)
Whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, or do both, you’ll eventually wonder if it’s time to switch to a cup.
If you breastfeed around the one-year mark, or whenever you decide to stop nursing, the easiest transition is to skip bottles entirely and go straight to cups. Even if your child enjoys sucking on bottles, their first birthday may be a good choice. This is because you’ve already switched from formula to cow’s milk.
So what do you need to know about transitioning a baby from a bottle to a cup?
When is my child ready to be weaned from the bottle?
Children usually start drinking from a cup at six months and are weaned off the bottle between twelve and eighteen months. When a child is ready to be weaned, they can:
- Sit up on their own.
- Eat from a spoon.
- Show more interest in solid foods.
- Have an established routine for mealtimes.
Much of what you serve in a cup will end up on the floor or on your baby in the beginning. Most babies, however, have the coordination and hand skills required to hold a cup and drink from it by 12 months.
If you’re still breastfeeding, you can continue to feed your baby breast milk, but you might want to do so in a cup.
What are the benefits of weaning my child off the bottle?
Around the end of the first year, parents should begin weaning their babies from bottles and preparing them to drink from cups. The longer parents put off starting the transition, the more attached their children become to their bottles, making it more challenging to break the habit. More prolonged bottle use may lead to cavities or cause your child to drink more milk than needed.
Tooth decay and improper dental development are more common in children who drink from bottles. They may not develop appropriate feeding skills. Also, dentists worry that prolonged bottle and pacifier use can impact teeth positioning and a child’s palate development. Bottle-fed children may not consume enough solid foods to meet their nutrient requirements.
What is the best way to wean my child off the bottle?
Your child should know how to drink from a cup before taking away the bottle. Many pediatricians advise parents to introduce sippy cups to children between 6 and 9. Aside from formula and breast milk, children frequently begin to drink water and other liquids.
Other tips to keep in mind:
- Wean your child at a time when they are not under a lot of stress. It’s not good to begin when a new sibling has just arrived or when the family is relocating.
- Introduce the cup at a young age, between 3 and 6 months. Allow your child to hold the cup without any liquid and get used to it.
- Substitute a sippy cup for a bottle on one feeding day when your child is 8 to 10 months old. Instead of a significant mealtime, choose a feeding when your child only drinks a little. For a week, use the cup at the same feeding time every day.
- Introduce the cup at a different feeding each week, gradually reducing the number of bottles your child receives.
- Feed very slowly. Hold the cup for your child and pour a small amount of liquid into their mouth.
- Sucking may be required by some children as a means of self-control. This puts them in the right frame of mind to do things like sleep, concentrate, and run. For the first few years, some children may continue to suck on a pacifier or bottles of plain water.
- Weaning success requires consistency. At this feeding, don’t go back to the bottle; instead, give your child the cup at the designated feeding time.
Types of cups you can use:
- Spill-proof cups with spouts designed just for babies (“sippy cups”) can help ease the move from the bottle.
- Cups with either a straw or those that promote an open-cup drinking pattern
- Open cups that are a good fit for the size of your toddler’s hands
There are some valid concerns about prolonged bottle use, and switching to cups sooner rather than later is generally easier. Still, you should do it in your own time at the end of the day. From those parents who’ve been there, the most significant piece of advice is to be patient; there’s no rush.