transitioning your child from a bottle to a cup

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There are many benefits of introducing an open cup! Did you know you can start as early as 6 months?

It’s a skill that takes time to develop, so the key is to give your little one multiple opportunities to practice.

During the transition, you can introduce straws and pre-cups to to your child as well. The ultimate goal is to transition your child fully to a cup, with or without a straw.

  • A pre-cup is spill-proof and be a temporary tool to help your child learn. However, it can interfere with proper drinking patterns if used as the primary cup.
  • A straw allows tongue placement to the back of the mouth. However, there is less development of hand eye coordination skills. You can introduce your child to a straw after you introduce them to an open cup. Once your child masters the straw, it can be a great on-the-go cup option.

Today we’ll cover why it’s important to transition your child off of a bottle, and some tips and tricks to introduce straws and cups.

Why a bottle can be harmful

  • Implicated with tooth decay especially when used for comfort prior to naps & sleeping at night.
  • Milk, juice, and other liquids can pool in a child’s mouth while they sleep. This is also when the saliva slows down and the baby swallows less often, giving the bacteria more time to produce acid.
  • Sipping on a bottle increases a child’s risk for tooth decay because it increases the duration the teeth are exposed to acids from the drink.

How a cup can be a better alternative

  • Drinking from a cup is less likely to cause liquid to collect around the teeth, and as a result, decreases the risk for cavities.
  • Teaches your child there is an alternative to the breast or bottle for liquid refreshment — this will make it easier to wean in the future.
  • Provides essential development of the mouth’s muscles.
  • Increases motor skills and coordination.

Steps to help your baby transition to a cup

1️⃣ Start with a small amount of water or puree.

2️⃣ Help guide the cup to your baby’s mouth by placing your hands over your baby’s hands.

3️⃣ Tilt the cup slightly so that the water/puree touches your baby’s lips.

4️⃣ Hold the cup a couple seconds so your baby can take little sips.

5️⃣ Help guide the cup from the mouth back down to the tray or table.


Some helpful tips to remember

  • Make sure your baby is upright & support the head if needed.
  • Don’t make a big deal if your baby spills when they’re learning. Have an extra towel or bib handy!
  • Model the steps for your baby.

Some cup features to consider

  • A soft but durable rim that is gentle on your baby’s teeth.
  • Smaller size for your baby’s hands to grab.
  • Handles to help your baby hold the cup more easily.
  • Weighted bottom to help prevent toppling.

Some good cup options include this stainless steel sippy cup or this 100% silicone training cup.

Steps to help your baby with a straw

1: Use puree

  • Dip straw into puree. Present it like a spoon to help your baby adapt to the shape of the straw.
  • Let your baby close their mouth around the straw and leave it in place for a few seconds.
  • Fill the straw with about one inch of puree and let your baby suck what’s inside.
  • Allow your baby to practice sucking, swallowing & breathing.

2: Introduce liquid

  • Stick a straw in water, hold your finger over the opening at top.
  • Keep your finger over the opening, and continue to hold as such so that the liquid stays within the straw.
  • Hold the straw over your baby’s open mouth and release the liquid slowly as your baby closes their mouth around the straw.

Some straw features to consider

  • Shorter straws so that your child’s tongue can rest appropriately when drinking.
  • Weighted straws allow your baby to hold and drink from the straw at any angle.
  • Domed cover to prevent spills.
  • Honey bear straw cup as an adjunct to learning.

We use this Zoli weighted straw cup with Olivia.

Is your child currently learning how to drink with a cup or straw? Let me know!

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