Moving bub from the bottle to the sippy may seem like a huge milestone. Moving your tot on from their favourite sippy to a regular cup? Now, that’s another story! Tots cling on to their sippy cups as a comfortable anchor. A familiar friend in need. Their naptime companion. A source of constant comfort. Not to mention the peace of mind it gives us mums, while travelling in the car and for on-the-go activities. Without being doused with liquid spillage and sticky mess to clean up – sigh!
Yet, more than we are willing to admit, tots can get stuck in sippy cup mode – and stay there a while. Face it mamas, convincing your tot to transition from a sippy and trade up to a cup can be oh-so-challenging! Keen to avoid a tantrum, or more likely – a world-famous dummy spit? We’ve got a few ways to make this huge leap a little easier. Here’s a list of tips on how to move your toddler from drinking from a sippy to an open cup!
firstly … how to tell when your tot is ready to move on from a sippy cup
Is your tot about to turn 2 years old, and looking a tad more coordinated than they used to be? If they are looking at their older siblings and mimicking their open-lid drinking actions - then perhaps the answer is yes. Perhaps it’s now time for them to move on and master the open cup! Yes – there may be some spillage. Yes, there may be some frustration. But if your tot is ready to go to the next stage, then you must let the juices fall where they may. To make way for independent drinking!
tips for transitioning from sippy to cup
lead by example
Toddlers love patterns and routines. Breaking the habit of drinking from a sippy cup is a mental transition, as well as a physical one. It is well documented that toddlers learn by watching what their parents or older siblings are doing.
So, show them how to use a regular cup and make a big deal out of it to create excitement. Say things like, “See? This is how mummy drinks. Now you try it.” By pointing out that you’re drinking from an open cup, chances are your tot will soon wish to follow suit.
give them a cup with a wide base that doesn’t tip easily
To get them used to drinking from an open cup, choose a cup with a sturdy wide base. Make sure that that it doesn’t tip easily but that still has handles to grip from. Our training cup is the ideal way for kids to learn to drink from a cup. The training cup mimics the flow of a big kid’s cup, funneling liquids into the rim for easy free-flow drinking.
The cup also features a unique water window in the lid. This is so kids can learn to see the liquid as they’re drinking and judge how much to tilt their cup.
This training cup also minimises spills. Your tot can do this by using the unique window to judge how much to lift, tilt and drink. It’s the ideal stepping-stone to a regular, open cup for water, milk, you name it! And it’s less mess for parents too, woo hoo!
only serve their favorite drink in an open cup
A great way to get started is generally with water – the essential key to hydration from babyhood to childhood and beyond into adulthood. The reason? It is known to be free from sugars and liquid calories that can harm their teeth.
If your toddler has a tizz about giving up the sippy cup, go ahead and let them use it for water. But – here’s the trick - serve the open cup for their favourite drink - like milk. When they really, really want that drink, they’ll start using the open cup!
To start, fill their cool new cup only 1/4 full, containing either milk or juice to drink sparingly with meals. At the same time, fill their sippy cup only with water. Doing this will train them to only drink water from the sippy cup when thirsty. This is because other liquids may harm their teeth.
In time, the sippy cup with water will hopefully transition to a cup with water. Eventually leading to a water bottle that they can take to school and drink from all day.
give them the option to choose their own big kid cup
Does your tot have a favourite character from a TV show they are obsessed with? Take your tot shopping to pick out their own big kid cup. By choosing a cup with their favourite character on it, they are then involved in the decision-making. In this way, they’ll be much more likely take an interest in their new drinking tool!
let them help you get rid of the “baby cups”
The final act of having your tot pack up their old cup and toss them out creates a milestone moment. It may help your child understand they’re becoming a big kid. That he/she deserves to drink from something new & different - like a bigger cup. Make a big deal out of this moment. Clap as your tot lets go of their sippy cup. Instead, reward them with their new favourite open cup, such as our 360 cup.
Supporting independent drinking with a twist, the 360 cup is great for littlies that are learning to drink. Our 360 cup lets kids sip from a super-soft silicone, lip-activated 360 ̊ drinking rim. Offering flow control (the firmer they press their lips down, the more liquid will flow. It also means less spills, as the silicone rim seals closed when not in use.
Wide profile handles are easy for little hands to grip for self-led drinking. It also offers a two-mode function for use at home and on-the-go. Twist handles down to expose the silicone rim for easy drinking. Then twist handles up to lock and seal for no leaks in bags or prams. Plus, the silicone rim stays clean and hygienic.
Even better - the clear lid lets kids see from the outside in, supporting tilting and drinking and hand-eye coordination. The clear cup lets folks monitor daily hydration.
allow some exceptions
If your kindy or day care requires sippy cups in the classroom -listen up. For hygienic reasons, explain to your tot that there are rules for home and rules for school. That there are “school” cups and “home” cups, and at home, they should drink from a big kid cup.
minimise the mess
To minimise the mess when starting with an open cup, start in the kitchen. Fill the cup with a small amount of water rather than milk. One or two inches in the bottom of the cup - and put a towel under the highchair. Or, start the process in an empty bathtub and let bub experiment.
Speaking of bathtubs, it is a great training ground for your tot to learn how to drink from a cup. Try your drinking-from-a-cup training with the Fill-and-Spill Water Game!
How to play the fill-and-spill water game
My kids used to play the fill-and-spill water game in the bathtub to learn the action of drinking from a cup. This helps with their drinking co-ordination!
show them how to hold + fill the cup
At the beginning of their bath, (before washing them) show them how to hold and fill the cup with a bit of water. Precisely 1 to 2 inches from the bottom of the cup. The first few times, guide them by holding the cup too so they get used to the way it feels. This helps to show them how to keep the cup stays still and reduces spills. A tiny amount of clean water in the cup will also get them used to free-falling water going into their mouths.
demonstrate how you drink from the cup
Using clean water, show them how you manage even the tiniest amount of water in your mouth and how you swallow it down. With time and patience, they will no doubt figure it out too, even if they do dribble and spill a bit!
then hold and tip the cup to their mouth
Give your tot a turn by holding and tipping the cup to their mouth. This will help them develop the proper oral skills to drink successfully. They can then try the tipping motion on their own in the bath after you’ve given them some pointers! then let your tot have a go!
Encourage them to repeat this free-drinking action. Encourage them to get used to what water looks like. To perfect the action of raising the cup to their mouths. To master this without the mess of it getting it all over the floor during mealtimes, for instance.
Simply encouraging them to fill and spill water out of the cup over and over will help develop their skills. Bit by bit, you can start adding a little more liquid. Soon enough, they’ll be drinking from a cup like a pro!
Please note: Take care to always supervise any kind of water play. As a small child can drown in as little as an inch or two of water.
Alas, mamas -transitioning from a sippy to a cup is all about the journey first, then the destination! After all, practice makes perfect! When it comes to making this milestone, it goes without saying that every young child is different. So, it’s important to follow your tot’s lead.
Be aware of the signs. You might notice baby gets more easily distracted while feeding. Or they may start ogling your cup as you sip your morning coffee! So, whenever you feel the time is right – use those superpower instincts of yours.
Sometimes it’s just best to roll with it on their drinking journey. Soon enough, you’ll enjoy watching their cups overflow with confidence and independence.
And remember parents – if you still aren’t sure when to make the transition from sippy to a cup? Ask your local maternal health nurse, GP or recommended health professional first!
Nicole Salinger is a wellness and beauty copywriter @bboxforkids and @bboxbody. She’s also a fellow mama-raiser of 4 grown humans. She is here to share the truth - and nothing but the truth – about the precious journey of Motherhood – and how to maintain your balance, wellbeing and inner peace with children in tow!