Change is inevitable. Especially when it comes to babies. Just when you think you’ve got it down pat, bubs is in a ‘somewhat’ predictable routine and mama is getting some well-deserved sleep when… it all changes.
Another milestone, another period of adjustment and more decisions to be made by a bleary-eyed mama that remembers a time, not so long ago when she wasn’t sleep deprived (insert sigh!)
When it’s time to say ‘bye-bye bottle’ (or boobies for that matter!) it’s a big move for baby and a bold move for mama and papa. Of course, each experience will be unique and only you can best determine how to navigate the transition from bottle to cup for your bub.
In the meantime here are some first-time sip tips from a mama that’s been there, and different cup options that might help to make the process a little easier.
The right time to start the transition from bottle to cup will vary, but generally somewhere between 6 and 12 months is usually recommended by those that know babies best.
It goes without saying that every baby is different so it’s important to follow your baby’s lead. There are usually signs – you might notice bub gets more easily distracted while feeding or starts ogling your cup as you sip your morning coffee! When you feel the time is right – go with it.
Some kiddies will welcome the change while others, that take huge comfort in their bottle, may take longer to make the adjustment.
Every experience is unique and often involves some trial and error – just be prepared. Especially when it comes to the night bottle – many folks and littlies get used to this one as the ‘last cuddles, settle and (with any luck) drift off for the night’ feed and sadly, that is likely to change.
But a wise health nurse once told me that babies and toddlers can learn to self soothe without a bottle, it just takes time and patience – oh mama, hang in there! It’s going to be worth it.
to wean or not to wean?
In short, there are two ways to approach the transition; cold-turkey or slow wean. Fairly self-explanatory, cold turkey is the quicker approach particularly useful if bubs is really attached to the bottle. Where weaning involves decreasing the number of bottle feeds over a period and replacing them with food or milk from a cup.
Whilst the latter sounds like the ‘gentler’ option, it just depends on how you choose to approach it and of course, how your baby responds. As always, research it and talk it over with your trusted crew - health nurse, doctor, other mamas-in-the know.
Then, believe in your own mama instinct for an approach that suits you and your little one.
Either way, when there’s kiddies and change involved you need to make the transition away from the bottle as fun, interactive and rewarding as you can!
Think fun cups in playful shapes and bright colors, bath-time playtime using cups to sip, and splash and pour and of course, lots of praise and reward cuddles and kisses.
When it comes to cups for little kids, there are many options to choose from. One way to approach it is to offer a variety of cups to practice drinking and simply see which one works best.
And there may be different bottles or cups that are useful at different stage and on different occasions. Your choice will also be age dependent – with handles for younger ones or without for older.
If you have decided on a slow wean from a younger age then a spout cup might be a good option as a first transition cup away from the bottle.
A soft-spout tip is not a far stretch from a bottle and still quite gentle on baby lips and sensitive little gums. Wide handles are helpful so that littlies can learn to grasp and lift to sip when they have limited dexterity.
When bub starts on solids, a spout cup is the ideal addition to mealtimes. It can be used to introduce cooled, boiled water or to offer a supplement of breast milk or formula. Out and about?
Look for a cup with a spout cover to keep the mouthpiece clean and hygienic, while ensuring no leaks in your baby bag or backpack.
As bubs grows and develops or if you are starting the transition a little later on, going straight to a sippy cup or 360 cup might be effective.
Each option encourages drinking, but supports different actions to develop greater skills, and also offer the added benefit of being spill or leak proof to avoid major mess in those early days of learning.
No doubt a good option when you are on the go or out visiting or at a restaurant when you are trying to keep things clean and dry for a moment!
A weighted-straw sippy cup moves with the liquid, so bub can drink lying, sitting or standing whichever way it’s tilted which is handy with super active littlies that simply can’t sit still! You can usually serve with warm or cool options and it might act as a replacement for the ritual morning and night milk bottle when bub is ready.
A 360 cup has a 360 degree drinking rim that introduces kids to drinking from a rim, anywhere around the cup with one difference – it also includes a leak-proof seal that is lip-activated so water will only flow when bub presses his or her lips to it. This helps to control the flow and to slowly learn the action of lifting, tilting and sipping.
Whichever cup or bottle you choose, the key is to model the action first – slowly gripping, lifting, placing the spout or straw or cup to your lips, tilting and drinking – with exaggerated gulps and lots of ‘mmmm yummy refreshing water’ to encourage bub to give it a try too (nothing like a bit of fomo!).
You may need to assist at first then let bubs play and explore because like all new skills, drinking from a cup needs to be learned. Don’t forget to keep your camera handy to snap these precious moments!
Other things to keep in mind: Is the cup made from materials safe for littlies and free of nasties like products BPA, Phthalates and PVC? What you can serve in the cup (will it hold cool and warm liquids) and can it be cleaned in a dishwasher, and for the littlies a steriliser – for added convenience?
And can parts like the spout or straw be replaced over time, or if teething bubs gets a bit chew-happy!
Ultimately, the best cup is the one your child will drink from happily and with ease so it might take a few different types before your find the one that is just right. You can look out for transition packs that offer several suitable options in one.
trade up to an open cup!
Some folks might prefer to skip spouts, sippy’s and others altogether, and others might choose to work up to a big-kid cup. And again, there are many options to suit many preferences.
Any suitably sized, soft-rimmed open cup will do the job! Other bits like handles, weighted bottoms and more are optional extras!
A training cup is a good interim option - it mimics an open cup but funnels liquids into a rim so baby can learn to tilt and sip, but without the super-messy spills.
It’s another little stepping-stone to a regular, open cup for water, milk, you name it.
Are you ready to say bye-bye bottle? Like all transitions, making the move from bottle to cup might be a little tough. But keep that cup half-full mama - you and your little one will get there!
Simply choose the bottle or cup that suits for your little learner’s age and stage and watch them flourish. Soon enough, clever bubs will have conquered yet another life skill – oh, they grow so fast. And you’ll be proud as punch!
Just a note to say, this content should be considered as one mama’s humble opinion only. Parents should always seek advice from your own doctor, health nurse or other health professional that relates specifically to your children and your circumstances.