SELECTING YOUR FIRST BABY SIPPY CUP
Your Baby’s First Sippy Cup
Among all of the decisions that new parents have to make, when to introduce sippy cups is actually pretty simple and straightforward. Your baby’s natural cues, plus guidance from experts all provide a clear idea of when to start this transition and what to look for in your baby’s first sippy cup.
In this article, we’ll review how the transition to a baby sippy cup works, when you should expect the switch to happen, and how to successfully pick your baby’s first sippy cup.
When to Introduce Sippy Cups
For the first few months of their life, babies only drink breastmilk or formula. During this period, parents don’t really need to think about water or juice as part of their baby’s diet. However, between six months and a year old many parents start to introduce a cup, in addition to just a bottle. So how do you know when to introduce sippy cups?
There are a few signs that your baby is ready to add a sippy cup to the mix. For starters, you’ll probably notice that your baby begins to take more and more control of their bottle during feedings. I remember when our second child (a girl) started to hold the bottle for her entire nighttime feed around 8 months old. I had no shot at wrestling it from her hand.
Another good indicator that it’s time to introduce baby’s first sippy cup is when your child gets bored or disinterested with the bottle altogether. It might be hard to imagine your baby losing interest in a bottle when they’re still eagerly eating. But, they will eventually start to replace their bottle feeding and breastfeeding with other liquids and solid or semi-solid food like fruit, rice cereal, etc.
More frequent meals throughout the day will fill your baby up and cause them to focus more on books, toys, or your face than the bottle that’s right in front of them. Though opinions on this topic differ, most experts recommend weaning from a bottle by 12-15 months of age. So, you can expect this transition to start occurring naturally.
Lastly, your baby will start to sit up more as they get older. Infants can be propped up with a nursing pillow, but I’m talking about fully independent, upright sitting. So, if your baby is doing a good job in their high chair mashing up bananas and peanut butter, they’re likely ready for a sippy cup.
Benefits of Baby Sippy Cups
While they are helpful, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to use a baby sippy cup. Skipping this phase probably won’t cause any harm, either. The ultimate goal is for your child to transition to an open-mouthed plastic cup that has no lid, straw, or valve.
However, the transition can be more than a little messy and frustrating. Many parents opt to use a sippy cup because it prevents spills and allows their child to adapt to the changes. Using a baby sippy cup will keep you from continual outfit changes, messy car seats, and sticky floors around the house.
Aside from the convenience of using a baby sippy cup, there are other significant benefits related to speech capability and development. The muscles and control required to sip with a straw or valve can actually help your child with the correct pronunciation of difficult words.
Lastly, a sippy cup will help your baby wean from a bottle when the time comes. Though they will initially miss the warmth, comfort, and ritual of the bottle, the sippy cup will give them something to replace it with.
How to Introduce a Sippy Cup
Now that you know when to introduce sippy cups, let’s talk about how to introduce them. Some things are almost comically difficult to teach your children. Eating, using the potty, walking, and drinking from a cup are both taught and learned through observation and experimentation.
When we first set out to teach both of our kids how to use a sippy cup, we approached the transition process with no expectations. My wife, who is home with our kids during the day, simply put the cup in front of our kids when they were sitting in their high chair, or when they were playing. At first, our kids thought the cups were interesting - funny, even.
Within the first day, both of our kids figured out how to get a sip or two of water from the sippy cup. This sparked further interest, and they just kept trying until they figured out how to apply the right amount of suction and how to shape their mouth to get the liquid out.
I use my kids as an example because I think it’s instructive of the process for all parents. Start by simply familiarizing your child with the sippy cup. Let them flip it around, toss it on the floor, and figure out that it has some tasty, refreshing liquid inside. They’ll slowly figure out how to get more and more out of it.
You may need to try multiple kinds of sippy cups before you find one that works for your baby. The shape of the mouthpiece might work for one kid and not another. You can also vary the liquid in the cup, or try one that is clear so your baby recognizes what looks like formula.
As you introduce a sippy cup, be careful not to let your child drink from it all day. The constant exposure to sugar (just like frequent snacking) can put your child at risk for tooth decay. Instead, make the cup available at mealtimes and a few other select times during the day. This balance will look different depending on whether your child is at daycare, or how much control you really have over when they have access to their sippy cup.
How Long Should We Use a Baby Sippy Cup
Like many things during the first few years, the move away from a sippy cup will be guided by both parents and children, depending on their stage of development. Most parents start to make the switch between 2 and 3 years old. Your child will probably have gained enough stability and motor skills to properly handle an open cup.
Even once your child has switched to an open cup, it’s normal to keep a sippy cup handy when you’re traveling or on the go. It’s much easier for your child to drink from a sippy cup while they’re tagging along in the car, in a stroller, or while you’re out on a walk. Before you toss the old sippy cup, think about tucking it in the diaper bag instead!
How to Pick Your Baby’s First Sippy Cup
If your child is ready to transition to a baby sippy cup, then it’s time for the fun part: picking their first cup! Remember that a good sippy isn’t just cute, it also needs to be functional and teach your child the proper skills.
Here are a few key features to keep in mind when shopping for your first baby sippy cup:
- Opt for a weighted bottom as this will help keep the cup upright when dropped.
- Double-check to make sure that the baby sippy cup you choose is actually spill-proof. Check reviews online so you can verify that other parents vouch for the product.
- If your baby’s sippy cup has a straw, opt for one with a weighted end as it will always pull the bottom of the straw to the bottom of the cup. This keeps you from needing to constantly refill the cup when it’s only half empty.
- Handles can make the sippy easier for your baby to grab and hold, especially with one hand.
- Some cups will transition from a closed top design to an open cup so you only need to buy one.
To help you get started, we’ve curated some of our favorites from the NINI and LOLI collection! Check out our recommendations and finish up your online shopping in a snap.
- The Lollacup has tons of handy design features. The valve-free, weighted straw keeps it firmly at the bottom of the cup, even when it’s tilted.
- Easily unscrew the handle portion so the cup will slide into a standard cupholder.
- It holds up to 10 ounces of liquid.
- BEABA makes a sleek, stainless steel sippy cup that keeps your baby’s drink cold or warm for hours at a time.
- The strong design is virtually unbreakable, scratch-resistant, and up for anything.
- BPA and phthalate-free materials.
- Straw design and cover help prevent spills.
Don’t forget about cleaning utensils, either. Bottles and sippy cups have tons of small parts that easily get lost in a dishwasher and can be hard to clean without the proper tools. A bottle cleaning brush will give you the right-sized brushes needed to scrub out small mouthpieces, tubing, and cups.
No matter when or how your child transitions to using a sippy cup (if at all), the key is to have patience, persistence, and a willingness to try many different approaches until you find one that sticks. Giving your child time to adapt will ensure that you have a relatively painless experience.