As with all things in a child’s life, the transition to a cup can vary widely from easy and smooth to drawn out and difficult. Some children take quickly and easily to a cup while others are resistant. It may require some patience and persistence if your child doesn’t seem all that interested in using a cup. There are some things you can do to help ease the transition and also to assist a child who just doesn’t seem to get it.
Choose the Right Cup
Just because your older child or your best friend’s child did well on one particular cup doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for every child. It might take a little trial and error to find the perfect cup for your little one. If your first choice isn’t going over well, try a cup with a different type of spout. With many different shapes, styles and levels of softness available, there is a perfect cup for every child.
Choose Your Timing
The cup isn’t always to blame if your child is resistant to taking a cup. Although children as young as 6 months old can successfully drink from a sippy cup, not every child will be ready that young. If your child doesn’t show any interest, it might be best to put it off for a while and try again later. Many children don’t change over to using a sippy cup until a year old or even much later.
Fill It With Something Familiar
Especially if you are offering a sippy cup at a young age, it’s best to fill it with the liquid your baby is most used to. Either pumped breast milk or formula can be served in a cup, and a familiar taste will make your child more likely to want to get at what’s in the cup. Some parents use juice as a bribe to encourage use of the cup; however, this can lead to your baby expecting to get juice every time the cup is offered, and you may have difficulty serving anything other than juice in a cup. Serving breast milk or formula in the cup will help to ease the later transition to cow’s milk as well.
Offer It Like a Bottle
The first time you offer your child a sippy cup, try sitting down the same position you would use to feed a bottle. Unless your child is accustomed to picking up a bottle in a seated position and drinking from it, this will only cause confusion. Once the cup has been introduced and established as the new vessel for liquids, you can offer it at the table. Keep it at the table from that time on to discourage wandering around the house with a cup.
At first, you might want to keep a bottle handy as well, as your child might refuse the cup or take only a small amount before rejecting it. You will need to finish the feeding with the bottle, or by breastfeeding.
As with all transitions, be prepared for it to take some time. Eventually, the cup will replace the bottle, but in the meantime, it’s best to allow your child to keep the bottle for certain feedings, especially soothing times such as before bed. Continue to offer the cup first and finish the feeding in another manner if necessary. Soon your child will be taking all liquids from a cup, and the bottle will be a thing of the past!