8 months old
Starting the Cup
Right now your baby is getting all of his or her liquid from a breast and/or bottle, yet sooner or later your baby will be introduced to the adult version: the cup. And now is as good a time as any to acquaint the two.
- While most parents bridge the gap between bottle and cup with a sippy cup, it’s a good idea to introduce your baby to the concept of spout-less drinking:
- Some babies prefer cups with two handles, while others like to grasp cups without handles. Whatever you choose, make sure that it’s safe, durable and unbreakable.
- Expect it to be messy. You might want to arm your little one with a full-coverage, waterproof bib.
- Put only a small amount of liquid in your baby’s cup to start, and slowly help your baby take his or her first sips.
- It will take practice and patience, so expect more to come dribbling out of your baby’s mouth than not.
- The best thing to start with is water, considering it’s the least messy. Once your baby (and you) feels comfortable, you can start to fill the cup with breast milk, formula and even a little juice if you’d like. Hold off on cow’s milk until after your baby’s first birthday.
- If your baby wants to take a crack out of cup drinking, let him or her explore the concept without your help. Yes, it will be messy, but it’s good to encourage him or her to learn.
- Chances are you’ll also give your baby a sippy cup, especially for traveling and on-the-go drinking. A sippy cup is basically a hybrid between a bottle and cup, giving babies a chance to drink from a spout rather than a nipple.
- There are a wide variety of sippy cup styles, from spill-proof spouts to built-in straws.
- A sippy cup also gives babies a chance to practice independence and coordination without always ending up in a soaking wet shirt.
- After you introduce a sippy cup, continue to let your baby occasionally drink from a spout-less cup so that he or she can practice cup-drinking skills.
- Avoid letting your baby tote around a sippy cup all day, as it can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Continuous sippy noshing is also linked to tooth decay, especially if the cup is filled with juice or milk. That said, try and fill up your baby’s sippy cup with water – especially if he or she insists on carrying it around throughout the day.
- Some experts warn that exclusively using a sippy cup might delay your baby’s speech or even cause speech impediments because the mouth muscles aren’t being worked as they would with a regular cup or straw. In fact, it’s a good idea to use a sippy cup with a straw for this reason – the sucking action on a straw is better for baby’s oral and speech development.
- When starting with a sippy cup, try using one that has a soft, nipple-like spout instead of a plastic one.
- A sippy cup is also much harder to clean than a regular cup, as it’s difficult to adequately clean inside the spout and plastic spill-proof stopper. It’s easy for liquid to get trapped in the many crevices of a sippy cup, leading to bacteria and mold growth.
- When your baby is ready, try to encourage more drinking from a regular cup than a sippy cup.
- Keep in mind that some babies prefer to go right from bottle or breast to a regular cup, snubbing the sippy altogether.
- While learning to use a cup – whichever type of cup you choose – give your baby some of their daily formula or breast milk in a cup each day. If your baby still wants to drink, offer water.
- When you introduce juice (which is generally around now, but ask your doctor to be sure), don’t give your baby more than a half-cup of juice a day, and it’s a good habit to dilute it with water.
- Just a heads up: Toddlers over the one-year mark should drink no more than 24 ounces of milk and one cup of juice each day. Stick to water the rest of the time.