Looking for ways to transition from bottle to cup? Learn easy ways to transition to a sippy cup and the best time to start.
I was introducing my then-infant son to a sippy cup and bought what I thought was the fanciest cup ever. It came insulated, had handles (with an option to remove them!) and was covered with a metal casing.
Well… that cup with the heavy metal casing? Came crashing right on my big toe, sending me yelping and hopping through the kitchen.
And that was me. I imagined how terrible it would’ve been if that heavy cup had slipped out of my little guy’s hands. That it would’ve likely happened made me shudder.
So sippy cups… no wonder bottles and nursing seem so convenient in comparison. Whether you offer a bottle or nurse, the transition from bottle sippy cup can be a challenge for both you and your baby.
Maybe you’ve tried offering a sippy cup but your child can’t seem to suck anything out of it. Or you want to ease out of using bottles but can’t get him to part with them. Or he flat out rejects the sippy cup and wants to nurse 24/7.
After three kids, I’ve learned the parenting advice of “every child develops differently” applies to sippy cups as well. Yup, sippy cups. One of my kids did not take to sippy cups with straws. Another couldn’t get the whole two-handle business. And even when they took to sippy cups varied as well.
So I’ve found some pretty helpful tips to make it happen. But first, let’s talk about when your baby is ready. He’s ready for a sippy cup when he can…
- sit up unassisted
- hold his head up
- open his mouth for a spoon
7 easy ways to transition to a sippy cup
Generally, the time frame for introducing a sippy cup is about six months to even over a year. Yep, it’s that wide. I first introduced the sippy cup when I wanted to offer my kids water. Then when we weaned them from breastfeeding at 12 months, I used the sippy cup to transition to whole milk.
Once you think your baby is ready for a sippy cup, follow these rules for a successful transition.
1. Remove the no-spill valve
Those sippy cups mean business when they say they won’t spill. Sometimes so much so that children who aren’t familiar with it can find it baffling. Whereas sucking on a bottle gave them instant results, a sippy cup doesn’t seem to do the same thing.
When you first introduce a sippy cup, remove the no-spill valve beneath the spout. This will allow the liquid to dribble out. If that makes you nervous, leave the valve in but don’t plug it into the spout’s hole.
Then, with the valve gone or loose, dribble some of the liquid onto your child’s lips. That way, he knows that liquid comes out of the spout. Offer the sippy cup, keeping a hand on it so it doesn’t splash all over his face.
2. Show your child how it works
Another way to introduce a sippy cup is to show him how it works. Fill a cup and drink from the spout, or mimic holding the handles and pretend-drink from it. Explain how sippy cups work, and how they’re like bottles.
3. Offer a sippy cup of water with every meal
Once your baby is eating solids, offer a sippy cup with every meal. This builds good habits of drinking water and also shows him that sippy cups are for meal times. Even if he toys around with it, at least he’ll learn to get comfortable with sippy cups and the purpose they serve.
By the way, only offer sippy cups with meals and snacks. Or when it’s time to drink water (like after he’s thirsty and tired). Walking around with a sippy cup for sporadic drinking isn’t a good habit. Just as you don’t want your child with a bottle always in his hand, neither do you want the same with sippy cups.
4. Replace one feeding or bottle with a sippy cup
If you want your child to stop using a bottle, wean him from it by replacing one feeding with a sippy cup. Start with one of the mid-day feedings for several days before eliminating another feeding. Once he’s using a sippy cup for all his mid-day feedings, move on to the morning feed, and finally the bedtime one.
5. Try different sippy cups
Sippy cups vary, from the spout to having handles and yes, its weight. Most parents start with short sippy cups with handles and a soft spout. Others have more luck with a sippy cup with a straw. Just as you did with bottles, experiment with different sippy cups.
If after several days, a certain cup just isn’t working, try a different one. Sometimes even the same style from a different brand can make all the difference.
Here are a few ideas to find the best transition sippy cup:
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6. Try other liquids
The drink you offer is up to you. You might start with breast milk or formula since that’s what your child used to. Or you want to encourage using a sippy cup for water and introduce that first. Maybe you even want to entice him with juice (although I don’t recommend juice for the long term). If he continues to resist the same cup, offer a different drink to see if that works.
Want a way to track the different solid food and drinks you offer? Download my FREE Baby Food Diary printable below! You can record the date, food, reactions and the number of times your baby tried it:
7. Praise your child
Regardless of whether your child “gets it” or not, praise him for trying and giving it a shot. The transition to a sippy cup can be a difficult one for young children. Feeling frustrated when he makes mistakes or refuses only makes it worse.
Then, when he does get it, praise him for all the hard work he did! He’ll be so proud of himself for having finally mastered using the sippy cup.
The transition to a cup doesn’t have to be stressful or challenging. From removing the valve to offering a variety of liquids, you’ll help your child learn how to use a sippy cup.
Just avoid the ones that weigh a ton and can land on your toes.
Get more tips:
- How to Wean from Breastfeeding
- Getting Your Child to Stay in Bed All Night: 7 Crucial Tips You Need to Know
- How to Run Errands with Kids (And Not Go Crazy)
- Setting Limits with Your Baby (And Almost Toddler)
- How to Get Things Done with a Baby
Tell me in the comments: How did you help your child transition to a sippy cup? Which sippy cup did your kids take to best?
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