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 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 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.
Spout or sippy?
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. 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 gums. As bubs grows and develops or if you are starting the transition a little later on, going straight to a sippy cup might be effective.
Either way, the key is to show and assist at first then let bubs play and explore because like all new skills, drinking from a cup needs to be learned. It’s about to get messy! Don’t forget to snap these precious moments.
So, the best cup is without a doubt the spill-proof one!
Ok, maybe not – but that is a great bonus to look out for! 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 sterilizer – 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 a cup!
Some folks might prefer to skip spouts and sippy’s 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 spills. It’s genius!
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! And 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 precious littlies and your circumstances.
A happy (mostly!) mama of three. Spends her days searching for the perfect balance between being a full-time mama, part-time b.box wordsmith and dedicated coffee consumer. Understands how hectic work and life can be and uses this mantra to live simply: The plan is, there is no plan, just stay as informed as you possibly can. Make choices to suit your family and you. And never apologise for seeing it through. Also, affectionately known as Mama Marie for her random acts of nerdy mumsiness and life mantras!