A bottle is something that can become quite comforting for a child; it is expected and routine. There is safety in the familiarity. When it is time to transition from a bottle to a sippy or training cup, most parents expect a battle of wills. However, the transition from the bottle to the cup does not have to be so difficult especially if done at the right time.
What Age Can You Transition From Baby Bottle to Sippy Cup
Toddlers who maintain access to a bottle can become quite picky about eating habits, especially when they know a bottle is waiting for them. Most pediatricians and professionals recommend phasing out bottles between 12 and 24 months. There are many different types of cups you can use to start this transition.
By the time your child is a year old, a sippy cup should be offered to baby, at least for practice. While you want to give your child time to get used to a sippy cup, you do not want to linger. While every baby is different, the longer your child has with their bottle, the more challenging a transition may be.
What To Expect When Weaning off the Bottle
When weaning your baby off the bottle, your baby may try to resist the change.2 While a sippy cup and a bottle are similar in that they both require sucking to drink, a sippy cup requires greater dexterity and control from the baby. The new challenge might be of no interest to your little one, leading to refusal.
Just remember, you are asking your child to change something they have known their entire life, and reluctance is a natural part of the change. With that said, some babies have no problem transitioning to a sippy cup; in fact, some are naturals. Every baby is different and the experience may differ depending on which type of cup you are using so it may take some trial and error to find the cup that works best for your baby.
The key to making any lasting change is patience. Your child might not want a sippy cup nor have any interest in a big kid cup. As a parent, you can help your child get comfortable with and excited about this change.
Making the Transition
A gradual transition is the best way to wean a baby off the bottle. While going cold turkey might work for some, most children cope better with a gradual phasing out. A sample schedule could include:
- Week 1: sippy cup for morning feeding
- Week 2: sippy cup for morning and afternoon feedings
- Week 3 and Beyond: sippy cup for the morning, afternoon, and evening feedings
This brief schedule will not work for all children; some will need several months or more. The primary takeaway is to use incremental changes and to progress slowly. Some other tips for transitioning to a sippy cup include:
- Lead by example (Take a sip from a sippy cup to show your baby how it's done)
- Be affectionate and reward with praise
- Hide the bottle
- Time the transition well (Don’t switch when your child is sick or stressed)
- Use a sippy cup at mealtime at the table so that baby starts to become comfortable with their new cup