Looking for ways to transition from a baby bottle to a sippy 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? I accidentally dropped it 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.
No wonder bottles and nursing seem so convenient in comparison. Whether you offer a bottle or nurse, the transition to a sippy cup from a bottle can be a challenge for both you and your baby.
Maybe you’ve tried offering a sippy cup but he 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. He might even reject the sippy cup and wants to breastfeed constantly.
After three kids, I’ve learned that 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, while another couldn’t get the hang of gripping two handles. And even when they took to sippy cups varied as well.
So, I’ve found some pretty helpful tips to make it happen.
7 easy ways to transition to sippy cup
But first, how do you know when your baby is ready? He’s likely ready for a sippy cup when he can sit up unassisted, without the use of props. He should also be able to hold his head up pretty steadily. And opening his mouth for a spoon of food is also a good sign he can start.
For a general rule of thumb, introducing a sippy cup can happen 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 I weaned them from breastfeeding at a year old, I used the sippy cup to transition from breastmilk 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. So much so that kids who aren’t familiar with how they work can find them baffling. Whereas sucking on a bottle gave your baby instant results, a sippy cup doesn’t seem to do the same.
When you first introduce a sippy cup, remove the no-spill valve beneath the spout, allowing the liquid to dribble out. If too much liquid comes out, leave the valve in, but don’t plug it into the spout’s hole.
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2. Show your baby how it works
Another way to introduce a sippy cup is to show him how it works. Fill a cup, mimic holding the handles, and pretend to drink from the spout.
Then, with the valve gone or loose, dribble some of the liquid onto your child’s lips so he understands that liquid comes out of the spout. Offer the sippy cup, holding onto it so the liquid doesn’t splash all over his face.
And even though he’s young, explain how sippy cups work, and how they’re like bottles. He’ll understand more than you think, and will eventually put the pieces together.
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 used 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
Do you want your baby to stop using the bottle for milk? Wean him from it by replacing one feeding with a sippy cup. The gradual transition will ease him away from bottles and into using sippy cups instead.
Start with one of the mid-day feedings for several days, making sure that he’s comfortable using the sippy cup and finishes the milk. Then, replace another mid-day feeding for another few days, until only the morning and bedtime bottles are left.
Once he’s using a sippy cup for all his mid-day feedings, move on to the morning feed next, and finally the bedtime one.
5. Try different sippy cups
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Sippy cups vary, from the spout to 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 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:
6. Try other liquids
What should you put inside a sippy cup as you transition into using one? It’s totally up to you.
You can start with breast milk or formula since that’s what your baby used to, making the transition more familiar. Perhaps you want to encourage using a sippy cup for water and introduce it that way first. Maybe you even want to entice him with juice (although I don’t recommend this for the long term).
And you can even rotate through these different options, seeing which one gets him excited to use the cup.
7. Praise your baby
Regardless of whether your baby “gets it” or not, praise him for trying and giving sippy cups a shot.
The transition to a sippy cup can be a difficult one, especially for young kids. Feeling frustrated when he makes mistakes or refuses only makes his progress worse. If anything, keep your response at least neutral.
Then, when he does make progress, praise him for all the hard work he did! Praise his baby steps, too, not just the times he drinks from the cup. You can say, “Wow, look at how you’re holding the cup!” or “You took a few sips!”
He’ll be so proud of himself for having made these steps that he’ll continue to make progress and eventually drink from the cup completely.
The transition to a sippy cup doesn’t have to be stressful or challenging. Start by removing or loosening the no-spill valve for easy drinking. Offer a sippy cup of water with every meal, showing your baby how it works. Gradually replace bottles or feedings with a sippy cup, starting with mid-day feedings.
Try using different sippy cups if he doesn’t take to one kind. Offer a variety of liquids to encourage him to drink from the cup. And finally, praise him for the progress he has made, no matter how gradual.
Soon, he’ll be able to drink from a sippy cup like a pro—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
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