Tips for Transitioning Your Baby to a Sippy Cup
Many new and experienced parents alike are curious as to when the ideal time is to start their baby on a sippy cup or training cup. Some parents start their babies early on and others wait until their baby is moving from bottle/breast at a year. Sippy cups can be a great way for your baby to transition from nursing or bottle-feeding to a regular cup. Using a sippy cup can also improve hand-to-mouth coordination and development of motors skills. Here are a few tips to help you transition your baby to a sippy cup:
· When to Start Transitioning to a Sippy Cup—The American Academy of Family Physicians encourages parents to introduce the sippy cup at six months of age in preparation for weaning from the bottle or breast at 12 months. Go ahead and try your baby with a sippy at 6 months but keep in mind that they may not be ready for a couple more months. And just like with any new skill, it takes time, practice, and patience.
· How to Know When Baby is Ready—The key to baby’s readiness is the development of a good strong fist grasp and the ability to easily move things from the hand to the mouth. But keep in mind that using a sippy cup requires much more than simply picking up an object and putting it into one’s mouth. It’s a good idea to let baby play with it and get used to it, not expecting them to fully drink from it for some time. Model the sippy cup for them so they can see how it’s done and more easily understand the concept.
· What Sippy Cups Work Best—All babies are different. Some take to the sippy cup immediately and have no issues with the spout and valve that prevent spilling while others have a harder time with the sucking. You may want to invest in a couple types of cups for your baby to try out. Even consider trying a sippy cup that has a straw. Important things to look for are sippy cups that are BPA, phthalate and lead-free, pieces that come apart for easy cleaning (so bacteria and mold cannot get trapped), a chew-resistant spout, no small parts, and a lid for travel.
· Do Not Drink and Toddle—Some parents allow their tots to constantly have a sippy cup within arm’s reach anticipating dire thirst. However, constant access to a sippy cup containing juice, formula or breast milk can create a new set of problems from filling up on liquids to issues with teeth. It’s best to offer the sippy cup throughout the day rather than allowing constant access. If your baby is very young and not speaking, teach them the sign language hand motion for “drink” and practice showing them the sippy cup equals a drink when they’re thirsty.
· What to Put in the Sippy Cup—The best drink to put in your baby’s sippy cup is water. It’s also ok to offer breastmilk/formula, but it’s a great idea to start your baby with water when they’re young. Some parents use this opportunity to offer juice, but if you do opt for juice, make sure it’s watered down considerably (1 part juice to at least 3 parts water). Instead of store bought fruit juice, you can also make your own homemade flavored water using real fruit and water. Pick ripe fruits like peaches, mangos, and blueberries. Try one fruit at a time with the water to confirm your baby doesn’t have an allergic reaction to the fruit. No more than 4 ounces of juice or less per day.