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Introducing: THE SIPPY CUP!

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

So back to the baby questions!

My sweet son will be turning one in about a month. I am super excited to see his little personality emerging and I can’t wait for him to start talking so that I can know a little more about what is going on in that fascinating brain of his. I am ALSO very excited that 12 months is when (according to ALL the books) we get to give up bottles! Yay! I am tired of washing all the bottles especially the ones with all the stupid little parts that I swear did NOT help his gas problem one little bit (boy that seems like it was a long time ago). The pediatrician tells me the wee one “should” only need three feedings a day at twelve months. I should be able to manage those myself since I can nurse him during my lunch hour. Does this mean that I can give up the (oh so glad for the convenience but boy is it a pain in the a**) pump?

So here’s my question. I SOOOOO want to give up the bottles and the pump, but I do NOT want to stop breastfeeding until…. well for a while yet. So how do I wean to a cup, but still continue breastfeeding? Do I introduce cow’s milk? Won’t that make him not want boob juice? Am I jumping the gun in getting rid of the pump? Should I build up a stock (My freezer full of breastmilk is sadly depleted these days) and then give up the pump? Should other caregivers give breastmilk in a sippy cup? Why does that seem gross? GAH!

Everything about breastfeeding has gone so well, I am convinced that I am going to screw up weaning. Help. Oh right and I would like to see the pacifier go soon after the bottles. Any advice on that would also be much appreciated.


Well, okay. I will tackle this question, with the HUGE caveat that both of my boys weaned from breastfeeding before the 12-month mark, so our weaning from bottle to cup was a lot more straightforward than yours. No pump or breastmilk supply worries involved. So definitely rely on the comments section for better, first-person specifics after I’m done rambling.

(My boys also never took pacifiers. I mean, they did as newborns when I could still forcibly shove the thing into their mouths, but it was never a habit that stuck once they figured out how to suck on their thumbs. So again, can’t really help you with that one either. AM SO USELESS TODAY.)

First up: Don’t wait until his birthday to introduce a cup. Just do it, if you haven’t already. Ideally the cup should already be a familiar thing BEFORE you take the bottle away. I imagine your baby probably has the (good!) distinction that nursing= comfort and bottle= just a drink, so swapping out a cup for the bottle shouldn’t have the added challenge of taking away his beloved comforting nighttime baba. (That was Ezra, but more on that in a bit.)

Ezra’s first drink from a sippy cup probably happened around…jeez, he was young. I want to say seven or eight months, once he was sitting up in his high chair and eating a nice variety of solids and moving on to finger foods. So I started offering a small cup of water or pumped milk with his meals. He preferred the water — he was one of those babies who wanted breastmilk or formula only from the boob or bottle. (He still won’t use the sign for “milk” for cow’s milk. He signed “milk” when he wanted to nurse or get a bottle, and once those went away, so did the sign. Now he uses “thirsty” for everything.)

But every baby is different. Your son might love breastmilk out of a cup, or he might immediately assign distinctions to what he wants from where, with breastmilk being an in-person event only. Introducing cow’s milk SHOULDN’T affect his desire for breastmilk — even after Ezra weaned I gave him formula before switching to cow’s, and he much preferred formula to milk for quite some time, probably because it was so much sweeter.

My pediatrician, by the way, had ZERO patience for my stress around getting Ezra off the bottle at 12 months. Noah had made the switch so easily (again, he’d been experimenting with a cup since around 8 months and was happily drinking cow’s milk from one before we made the Final Switch) that I didn’t know what to do about that final bedtime bottle that Ezra seemed to so desperately need. He was closer to 13 months old at his one-year appointment and when I told her we were “working” on getting rid of bottles by offering cow’s milk in them instead of formula, she just about had a conniption and scared the pants off of me with statistics on bottles-past-a-year and cavities. Something like, on average, every month past 12 that a child continues to use bottles equals one cavity by three years old. While I’m SURE this is overstating things JUST A BIT, I was duly shamed and promised to go cold turkey that night, like she recommended.

(We did. Ezra cried for a little bit, then got over it. I felt silly.)

(One of my neighbors, however, recently confessed that her 3.5 year old still drinks a bottle at bedtime because it’s the ONLY thing he’ll drink milk from, as demonstrated by a five-month-long strike of absolutely no milk drinking. Personally, by that age I think I’d be more gung-ho about getting rid of the bottle and finding other sources of calcium for a non-milk-drinker, but I admit I’m one of those Judgey People who can’t believe Suri Cruise is still carrying around that bottle OMG COME ON.)

Anyway. Thus ends my entire experience with introducing a sippy cup: Do it sooner rather than later, and be prepared for a lot of trial-and-error when it comes to the contents. (And a lot of spills. Non-spill sippy cups are a LIE, a DAMNED LIE, because none of them can match getting repeatedly hurled off the edge of a high chair onto the floor, though I found that Playtex cups probably had the best track record.) Make the cup a regular presence at all meals and snack times. Be heartless about the bottle, but generous with offers to nurse. Try to wait as long as possible to offer sweet, watered-down juices — like as a last resort if your baby REFUSES the cup no matter what, but it’s best for their teeth if you can hold out until they’re drinking from a straw instead of a spout.

And OH! RIGHT! My one other weird twitchy thing: the spouted sippy cups are a great option for BEGINNERS, but speech pathologists (and oh, I’ve known quite a few) recommend that you get your baby using the straw versions as soon as possible. The spout design is not great for a baby’s mouth muscles or getting his tongue into proper positions for speech. A straw is much, much better for developing good oral motor skills.

Published May 7, 2010. Last updated October 29, 2017.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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