If you’ve been bottle feeding and your baby is coming up to 12 months old it’s time to start thinking about moving on from bottles to cups.
Experts agree that it’s a good idea to wean your baby off the bottle no later than 12 months.This is because the slow flow of liquid through the bottle teat means your baby may spend too long with a teat in his mouth, which can contribute to tooth decay.
Furthermore, drinking from a bottle beyond recommended guidelines can be a cause of delayed speech. The teat can hinder your child’s tongue movement, making it harder for him to talk. Also, by moving to a cup and freeing the tongue you’ll be helping your child to develop stronger chewing muscles, which is important in developing his ability to eat more varied foods.
It’s a good idea to encourage your little one to practice with a cup when they start on solid food, from around 6 months onwards.
Tips for making the transition from bottle to cup
- Take your child out on a special shopping trip to buy a special new cup just for them.
- You might need to try a few types before you find a cup that suits you and your baby. You could choose a cup with a lid and spout that the baby needs to suck on – sometimes called a ‘sippy cup’. You could try a cup without a lid too – though you may need waterproofs!
- Whichever one you choose, try to make sure it’s a ‘free flow’ cup, which means some drink will come out if you turn it upside down. This means the cup won’t have a special non-spill valve (or sometimes the valve will be removable).
- Cups without lids or ‘free flow’ cups are best because they help your baby learn to sip and are better for the teeth because the drink is in contact with them for a shorter time.
- Give them some control over it and if possible let them hold it and drink for themselves.
- Try to stick to just offering them milk, water or dilute fruit juice only to drink.
- Depending on age get them to give away their old baby bottles – sometimes a bottle fairy/elf can help.
- Use lots of positive praise and rewards every time they use the cup. Get friends and relatives to encourage them to drink or to make comments to them: “look at how big you are drinking out of a big cup.”
- Keep offering the cup or having it available and hopefully the persistence and positivity will pay off.