Weaning from the bottle can be really hard for some little ones. It can be less hard if you plan ahead. Starting to introduce an open cup and a straw around 6 months of age (or once your baby is sitting up pretty well on their own), is a great way to get them used to the idea of using vessels other than bottles.
What Type of Cup Should Baby Use?
I don’t recommend traditional sippy cups because they are basically bottles in disguise. They use the same oral motor skills a baby uses with bottle feeding and prevents development of a mature swallow pattern.
The best type of cup to use is a regular open cup. For tips on teaching baby to use an Open Cup check out our article on this topic!
Another great option (especially when you’re not in the mood for a mess!) is using a straw cup. There are many options that function like a sippy cup in that they are completely sealed which keeps spills to a minimum. But straws promote much better oral motor skills! We have an article to help you teach baby how to use a straw if you need help!
Check out the Free Resources page on our website for cup recommendations!
How to Introduce a Cup
Introducing the cup with a familiar drink (breast milk or formula) can help increase acceptance. If you typically warm up their milk, continue to do this as well at first.
Start with small amounts in a cup once a day and increase to several times a day as their skills improve. You can start by offering the cup during mealtimes. As they are able to drink larger volumes, try offering the cup instead of their bottle for at least part of the milk feeding. You can always offer the bottle after the cup if they did not drink much.
Once your baby is able to take several ounces efficiently at one time and especially if they are close to age one or older, I recommend starting to try to drop one bottle at a time.
Dropping the Bottle
It is best to start by trying to drop the bottle that you think will be easiest for them to give up. This is typically a bottle in the middle of the day. You should still continue to offer the volume of formula or breastmilk they need, but offer it in a cup instead of the bottle.
For most babies, giving up their bedtime bottle and middle of the night bottles are the most difficult, closely followed by their morning bottle. Every baby is different so you will have to make this decision yourself!
If your child is under one and therefore still requires breast milk or formula as their primary source of nutrition, your goal is not to give up the milk, but just to replace the bottle with a cup.
If your baby is over one and eating solids well, they are not required to drink milk, but it is an easy source of calcium, fat, and other nutrients. Limit milk intake to 16-24ozs after age one (unless told otherwise by your healthcare provider!).
If your baby gets breast milk, there is no need to switch to cow’s milk (or a milk alternative). In most cases babies transition off formula around age one. Always check in with your pediatrician on what they recommend.
Nutrition information from: