The first year of life is filled with many milestones and among those is the transition off of the bottle. However, getting your little one to take a cup over a bottle may not always be as easy as it seems. And, baby has a right to protest if they choose! No sooner has your baby mastered the art of sucking from a bottle, when she’s told to drink from a cup. But experts agree, the sooner you make the transition, the easier it will be for both you and your baby.
At what age should you begin the transition from bottle to sippy cup? According to American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should begin the transition from bottle to sippy cup between 6 – 9 months of age. So, even if your baby is still using formula, you’ll want to start thinking about replacing the bottle with a cup.
Waiting to make the transition can result in a much harder process and also increase the likelihood of a child experiencing tooth decay. Children who carry around a bottle are more likely to sip frequently from it, and constant sipping can lead to tooth decay and ear infections.
Waiting to make the transition to a sippy cup can also make it harder for your little one to adapt. Studies have shown that children under the age of one transitioned relatively stress free, while children older than one had a more difficult time getting off the bottle.
Babies who can sit up by themselves, hold their heads up, and eat from a spoon are probably ready to start drinking from a cup. Before you start weaning him from the bottle however, get him familiar with a cup. Show him how to hold the cup and then bring the cup to his mouth and dribble some water on his lips. If he can, let him hold the cup and try brining it to his mouth himself.
Now that you’ve familiarized him with a sippy cup, it’s time to begin the process of getting him to use the cup solely. It’s important to remember: a gradual process is best. Begin by replacing one feeding a day with a sippy cup. Over the next couple weeks, replace one additional feeding with a sippy cup until your baby is not using a bottle anymore.
As simple as the process of transitioning from bottle to cup sounds, it's not always easy. If you encounter resistance from you child, it may help to try offering him another source of comfort like a favorite stuffed animal or blanket. Also, try cuddling your child just like you would if you were bottle-feeding them. The close contact and one on one time can help ease the stress associated with losing a comforting object.
Just like bottles, sippy cups should be kept for mealtimes only, so resist giving your baby a sippy cup to carry around or to drink from at bedtime.