Find out when your little one can make the big move from bottle to sippy cup and how to make it a simple transition.
Some babies take to a sippy cup straight away, while others take a bit of time to get used to the concept. Some may never use one and might go straight from the breast/bottle to a normal cup. Most toddlers can use a two-handled open cup by the time they are two years old.
What is a sippy cup?
A sippy cup is a training cup with a lid and a spout that lets your child drink without spilling. Some include handles and you can choose ones that have different types of spouts.
Sippy cups are good for helping your baby to move on from breastfeeding or bottle-feeding to a regular cup. A sippy cup can give your baby some independence and helps to improve her hand to mouth coordination.
There are a few factors to consider when buying a sippy cup: how easy it is for baby to sip from the cup and lack of leaking.
“My two children got sippy cups by six months with cooled boiled water after a meal or during the day. They adapted with no issues and by 10 months I transitioned them onto sippy cups with no handles. Most sippy cups have recommened ages but you know when your own child is ready to progress on.” Caroline McGuire
“With my first child, I waited too long to introduce a sippy cup and I ended up having to hide all the bottles when he was two and a half to try and get him to take a cup. He did eventually, but with my second child, I have been offering her a cup from six months and she now happily drinks from a sippy cup at 13 months.” Jean Rose
Cups with sipper spouts are easy for a baby to drink from, but they can dribble. There are sippy cups that have vacuum valves in the top that won’t leak, but babies have to work harder to get a drink. These tend to suit older babies better as they are able to suck harder. Lidded beakers with easy-to-suck spouts are ideal first cups and let your baby supplement milk feeds with water.
When should baby move from bottle to sippy cup?
It’s recommended that babies are introduced to a cup from about six months. Your baby might not get the hang of it right away, but it’s better to introduce it early. Baby can spend time getting used to it before making a total switch from bottles.
Aim that by 12 months of age, a non-lidded beaker will be used for all drinks other than breastfeeds.
Six tips to help baby transition from bottle to sippy cup
1. It’s better to introduce your baby to a sippy cup that has a soft, pliable spout because it will feel more comfortable than a hard plastic spout.
2. Demonstrate to your baby how to drink from a sippy cup. Bring the cup to her mouth and tip it up so she can drink from it. Touch the tip of the spout to the roof of her mouth to stimulate the sucking reflex.
3. Take your time. Just put water in the sippy cup to begin with and don’t worry if your baby doesn’t automatically take to the sippy cup.
4. Experiment with a few different kinds of sippy cup until you find one that suits your baby.
5. Dip the spout in breast milk or formula before offering it to your baby.
6. Try a cup with a straw. Some cups include a built-in straw and some babies find it easier to use a straw rather than a spout.
What drinks can baby have?
Cooled boiled tap water is the best drink (other than breast or formula milk) to give to your baby.
Avoid giving your baby fruit juices as they can lead to tooth decay. If your baby has been taking infant formula at six months, she can continue to use it one year and beyond.
If your baby is breastfed, you may want to continue with this for as long you both wish.
You could introduce a soft spout or lidded beaker containing cooled, boiled water before one year.
Do not give your baby cow’s milk until they are one year old as it doesn’t contain sufficient iron, but small amounts can be used in cooking from six months of age
Dr Abigail Moore is a paediatric dentist who operates private practice limited to paediatric dentistry at the Burlington Dental Clinic and the Hermitage Medical Clinic.
Sippy cups are a useful transition from bottles to a big girl or boy cup and dentists are very keen for bottles to be stopped as soon as possible.
Bottles can be misused for sipping on drinks during the night and the teat can cause dental alignment issues if used for a prolonged time. If teats are sucked excessively they can cause the front teeth to move forwards and prevent the teeth from meeting together properly.
Sippy cups with moulded plastic or flip top lids are very useful to aid the transition. Only milk or water should ever be put in a beaker – juices, even natural, sugar free or diluted ones contain acid and are very harmful to teeth. Only water should be given during the night.
It is good to encourage the transition to proper cups by age three to minimise any possible affects on dental development.
Tommee Tippee Sippy Trainer
Designed for use from 4 months, this small Sippee Trainer with a 150ml capacity, is the perfect choice for your baby’s first sips. Up until this point they’ve been used to breast or bottle, so introducing a cup is an important step in their drinking journey.
To help the transition go smoothly, this cup features a super soft, Closer to Nature™ teat for a familiar breast or bottle feel for those very first sips. Once comfortable with the removable, easy-grip handles on the coloured cup base then you can progress onto the soft sippee cup spout.
The offset nature of the soft spout encourages a more natural cup drinking action by changing the angle they drink from, ready for a progression onto a full sippee cup.
More you might like
Weaning explained by Dr Pixie McKenna
Bottle feeding essentials
Leaky boobs and over supply