When should I introduce a sippy cup to my child?
Encourage your child to use a regular cup when you think he's ready. Some babies enjoy using a sippy cup as early as 6 months, and others aren't interested until after their first birthday. Most babies seem ready around 7 to 9 months, though.
What's the best way to transition to a sippy cup?
Some babies take to a sippy cup immediately, while others take a while to get used to the idea. Here are some tips to make the transition smoother:
- Start off with a soft, pliable, nipple-like spout, which will feel more familiar to your baby than a hard plastic spout. Some trainer cups offer a spout that's similar to the bottle, making for a smoother transition.
- Show your baby how to raise the cup to his mouth and tip it up to drink.
- Give it some time. Until your baby masters the technique, you may want to put water in the cup to avoid too many messes. Don't worry if your baby doesn't use the sippy cup properly for a while. It makes a fine toy, too!
- Try different models until you find one that suits your baby.
What should I do if my child refuses the sippy cup?
Give it time. Your baby may not be ready or may desire a different spout or type of sippy cup. Some babies even graduate from breast or bottle straight to a regular cup. If you'd rather your baby learn to use a sippy, though, whether for convenience or because you think it'll make a good transition – try these strategies that many parents have used successfully:
- Dip the tip of the sippy spout into the breast milk or formula and then give it to your baby. She may just need a hint! Babies 6 months or younger should get only formula or breast milk in the sippy cup.
- Show your baby that the spout is like a nipple (it needs to be sucked on). Try touching the tip of the spout to the roof of her mouth to stimulate the sucking reflex.
- If she drinks from a bottle, give her half of her formula in the bottle. When it's empty, switch to the sippy cup for the second half of the feeding (continue to hold her as you do when she's bottle-feeding).
- Offer your baby a straw. Some baby cups, like the ZoLi Bot Sippy Cup, come with built-in straws, and some babies find these easier to use than a spout (though others will give you a clueless look). If your baby does get the hang of sucking from a straw, she may then be better able to handle sucking from the spout.
- Switch beverages. Some babies will drink water or juice – but not breast milk or formula – from a sippy. Sometimes it's a matter of association (milk belongs in a bottle or breast). Never give juice to a baby 6 months or younger, and remember to limit juice for older babies and toddlers to no more than 4 to 6 ounces (a half cup or so) a day.
- Some parents have had success waiting to introduce the sippy cup until their baby is ready to start drinking whole milk (at age 1). Show her how. Get yourself a clean sippy and let your baby see you drink from it. Or have a sibling drink from a sippy in front of the baby. Sometimes all it takes is a little sucking noise (make it when you give her the cup) to inspire a baby to start sucking.
There are all kinds of sippy cups, with all kinds of spouts or funky handles and designs.
To spare your diaper bag any added mess, make sure to pick one that's spill proof. Then all you have to do is sit (or stand) back and enjoy this incredible milestone.
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