Think your tot is ready for an open cup? Transitioning your baby from a sippy cup to an open cup can take months. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies can stop drinking from a bottle by one-and-a-half years. However, working toward discontinuing use earlier on is better. Training your baby from as early as six months helps her learn that there’s an alternative to liquid refreshment other than via breast or bottle, making it easier to wean her from either or both. Also, being able to take liquids from an actual cup helps your baby master his mouth muscles while advancing his motor skills and coordination. So, starting early gives your baby a lot of time and practice before switching to an open cup. Read on to learn more about transitioning your baby to an open cup.
Why Babies Should Use An Open Cup
According to My Little Eater, the initial type of cup that you should introduce to your baby is an open cup, not a sippy cup. When your baby starts taking solids, she will need just a bit more water in her diet to prevent constipation and wash down the food during mealtimes. So, your baby should take breastmilk or regular bottle feedings plus water through a cup at snack/meal times. This is also a stage when babies are mastering the skill of eating, moving food around in their mouth, drinking from several cups, and learning how to talk.
To achieve this, they must develop strong and flexible jaws, lips, cheek, tongue, and swallow mechanisms, also known as oral motor skills. When you drink from a cup, the tongue automatically raises on its own. However, sippy cups interrupt this process because they keep the tongue pressed down, preventing your baby from finishing a proper natural swallow.
But what if your baby is already using sippy cups? Not to worry. You can transition him slowly by using sippy cups a bit less. Start introducing an open cup every chance you get, and use sippy cups occasionally and on the go.
When To Introduce An Open Cup
There’s no absolute “ideal” time to transition to an open cup with no lid. However, What To Expect states that by 16 or 17 months, most toddlers have the motor coordination to drink from an open cup, and with enough practice, most don’t dribble. But when should you start?
Aim to start some open-cup sessions between six and twelve months, but watch out for these milestones first:
- Can your baby take small sips from an open cup that a caregiver is holding by six months?
- Can she correctly use objects such as a cup and maybe hold an open cup and take sips, with some small spills by twelve months?
If you’re wondering whether to transition to an open cup directly from the breast or bottle or start by giving them a sippy cup, that’s up to you. As we’ve described, some experts are against the sippy cup habit and instead advise that you use the open cup right from the go. However, if you want to ease the change with a spill-proof cup, or if sippy cups are a firm fixture in your household, don’t worry that your baby has skipped a milestone. You can transition him to the big-kid cup. Many infants can take from a sippy cup at around 6 to 9 months, and by your baby’s first birthday, he will probably be ready to let go of the bottle.
It’s perfect timing, too, because the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that you wean from a bottle between one and two years. Bottles aren’t advisable because they may lead to tooth decay over time, especially if your baby uses them for comfort during bedtime. The milk or liquid inside the bottle can pool in the baby’s mouth as she sleeps, causing bacteria growth and cavities.
Tips For Introducing An Open Cup
Here are some tips:
- Start small– Weetalkers advises that you put a little amount of liquid, whether formula, water, or breastmilk, into an open cup. Gently help your infant bring the cup to his lips. Giving him just a bit of liquid at a time lets him slowly improve the skills needed to drink from a fuller cup later on. It also helps reduce the spills and messes made by open cups.
- Let your baby choose– Give your toddler the freedom to choose the cup that will give him the sense of control he craves. Don’t underestimate how powerful magical gimmicks such as cups with changing colors or whimsical characters can be.
- Show them how it’s done– If there’s one thing babies are good at, it’s copying everything you do. Show your baby that you’re drinking from an open cup ad she’ll want to try it too.
- Let others serve– If you’re weaning from the breast, let your partner or a caregiver offer your toddler the cup. He may refuse the cup when you offer it to him because he knows you used to breastfeed him.
- Switch things up- If you want your baby to switch to an open cup from a sippy cup, let her switch between the two. For example, use the sippy for milk, but reserve the open cup for her favorite drink.
When shopping for a sippy cup for your infant, you’ll want to take their age into account. Here’s what parents should be looking for.
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