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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.

Thanks,
J

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.

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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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Claire
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Claire

My baby was a bottle failure, so I don’t have a lot of expertise weaning from bottle to cup, but, I did nurse until about 15 months, and my daughter never had a problem with the cow’s milk/nursing issue. She just nursed (maybe 2 times a day), and then had cow’s milk in a sippy for all of her meals (and usually water for snacks). It worked out fine – she didn’t love the milk at first, but now that she’s 19 months, she drinks plenty of milk, and seems to like it. She loves water, and hates juice (tried… Read more »

Jen
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Jen

I don’t usually comment as I often feel most readers know much more than I do, but I introduced both my boys to sippy cups really early (both continued to nurse past 1 year). But, I gave them a sippy cup that had neither a nub or a straw…I had seen way too may 3 year olds that still drank from those which to me meant lazy parents! The cups we used were shaped like a sippy cup but had a cup-like rim with 3 little holes…similar to this link http://craftapple.files.wordpress.com/2006/08/sippy-cups.jpg (I of course can’t remember the brand) but I… Read more »

Crabby Apple Seed
Guest

Well, we were incredibly lucky in this regard, as it was one of the few things my daughter actually made easy for us. We also introduced the cup extremely early, probably around seven months. I started weaning the week before her first bday- first eliminating first morning nursing and giving her a sippy with cow’s milk. She loved it. The next week I eliminated pre-nap nursing/bottles. She was not happy about it, but she was okay. The last we eliminated was pre-bedtime nursing/bottles. For a week, we gave her cow’s milk in a sippy at bedtime and then brushed her… Read more »

ras
Guest
ras

For what it’s worth, both of my girls started on sippy cups at around 9 months, and both continued nursing well past that (DD1 was 22 months when I weaned her, DD2 is still nursing at 15 months). Neither one of them seemed to make any connection between the sippy and the breast — as in, they didn’t see any reason why one would supplant the other. Mind you, we’re insane people who INTRODUCED a bottle to our first daughter at around 11 months, in an effort to get her to stop nursing to sleep at night. I seem to… Read more »

Eliza
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Eliza

ok, my baby isn’t here yet but i know that my niece has been taking sips out of cups and straws since she was around 5 or 6 months old (she’s a total ice-water thief! of course the ped. would prob freak out about cup sharing too but whatever…) She’s never used a bottle at all as far as I know. Now that she’s a year old she nurses at night before bed (totally cracked us all up when my mom was babysitting her one night and my Sis got there later than she expected and little niece starts asking… Read more »

Michelle
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Michelle

Amy, yeah I think your ped was probably overreacting on the off the bottle by 12 months or the teeth will fall out business. My older son was actually still had a bottle at bedtime until around 18 months and the he still needed a bit of water in a bottle to settle down. He turns 4 on Monday and according to the dentist, has perfect teeth. Granted he didnt’ fall asleep with the bottle and we wiped his teeth down afterwards but still. It was kind of a tumultous time (very sick older child in the hospital for an… Read more »

Stephanie
Guest

What about some suggestions for the baby who DOES NOT LIKE sippy cups? I’ve tried giving my 10 month old a sippy cup since she was six months old. No interest whatsoever. And now I’m stressing because we’re switching daycares and the new place won’t let her move to the toddler room until she can drink from a cup. I’ve tried the rubber spout and the non-rubber one, neither works. GAH!!!

Carmen
Guest
Carmen

Hmm, interesting statistic about the cavities. I nursed my son to sleep until he was 18 months old. He had SEVEN cavities in his teeth at age 3. Seven, despite my brushing 2x a day with fluoride toothpaste since the day his first tooth poked through. Now my daughter is 19.5 months and I’m still nursing her…phoooey.

Erin
Guest

I would TOTALLY put breastmilk in a cup. I don’t think it’s gross at all. The only issue then is the sudden disappearance of said breastmilk when you decide to wean. My doctor said that my son didn’t need any formula/breastmilk at all after one year old, so if you just wanted to nurse once or twice (or however many times) a day, I think that’d be fine. Do whatever you think is right, I don’t think there’s a wrong answer there. Although it took a couple of weeks for him to get the hang of it, my baby loved… Read more »

Sunshine
Guest
Sunshine

Stephanie – NEITHER of my children wanted anything to do with sippy cups. Nothing. We went straight to the straw version (at 12 months…find one with handles) and regular cups around 2 yrs. Yes, people thought I was crazy but we had surprisingly few spills (like, less than five total and I just didn’t give them things that stained like purple grape juice or anything red).

Julie
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Julie

First off, I wouldn’t go by what the Dr says your baby “should” be able to do – I’d go by what your baby seems ready to handle. Just because the Dr says he “should” be down to three feedings a day, doesn’t mean your baby is quite there yet. Go with trial and error and gradually reducing to that, and see how it goes. Having said that, here’s how things worked for me. First off, the getting rid of the pump/milk transition. I was lucky enough to only need to pump for one bottle a day, two on Mondays.… Read more »

Julie
Guest
Julie

Oh, and on the breast milk vs cows milk thing – I don’t think you have to worry about the kid refuing nursing for cows milk. Most babies I know definitely prefer to nurse – mom’s milk is the good stuff, plus there’s the comfort issue. (Though I did have an amusing moment last week when my kid got fussy at a restraunt, so I started nursing. Then he grabbed the sippy cup of water off of the table and tried to put it in his mouth without unlatching first – poked himself in the cheek and then looked confusedly… Read more »

eva
Guest

My two and a half year old never took to sippy cups, but loved the thermos stainless steel version with the pop up straw from the time she was around 10 months old. She had a bedtime bottle until two months ago because it worked for us and we were too cowardly to give it up (and because we want nothing but cavities for her apparently!). Then we told her one day “no more bottles, bottles are for babies” and just didn’t give her one that night and really it was totally fine. She understood, which is the advantage of… Read more »

Jenn
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Jenn

I wanted to chime in on the pacifier thing, just to say “do not stress” if you can’t get your son to give up the paci at night. I have two kids, one who never wanted a paicifier and another THREE YEAR OLD who still uses it at night. I was very anti-paci once she turned 2, but my ped told me not to fight it at all (as long as she wasn’t walking around all day with it and — gah — taking it out only to talk). He said some babies are more oral than others and that… Read more »

Ms. K
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Ms. K

@Julie is right on – go by what your kid seems able/willing to do, not by what the pediatrician says they “ought” to be doing.
And FWIW, research does not support the idea that nursing your kid to sleep is bad for her teeth. (Bottle feeding formula/milk is different in a number of ways, and does seem to lead to cavity formation) KellyMom links to a bunch of research on this:
http://www.kellymom.com/bf/older-baby/tooth-decay.html

caleal
Guest
caleal

Dude, no joke on the bottle with the milk at bedtime thing. It can be devestating. I had to have four or five of my teeth removed when I was young due to my mom not knowing any better, and then I just didn’t have front teeth until around, oh, 10? And that? Sucks.

Susan
Guest
Susan

From the time Snackbox was about 8 months old (and self-weaned), we have tried almost every brand of sippy cup out there (except Avent, ’cause I heard those leaked like crazy). Seriously, I have an entire kitchen drawer devoted to sippy cups – if I had put that money in his college fund, he’d be going to Harvard when he’s 12. Turns out his favorite ones are – the Take N Toss from Walmart, $3 or so for 5 cups (and you don’t have to toss them – they are durable enough to go in the dishwasher). They also make… Read more »

Jaymee
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Jaymee

I started introducing a sippy cup at 6 months. The 6 month sippy cups are pretty much just like a bottle(obviously they look different, but in order to get the liquid out it’s only slightly different than a bottle) As the months on the sippy cup increase the more it becomes more like a sippy cup and less like a bottle. This results in a very easy transition. Quite honestly though, sippy cups are nice for a child to carry around with them, but when it comes to meal time or whenever they are going to be stationary you should… Read more »

Elizabeth
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Elizabeth

I think there’s a difference (in terms of cavity promotion) between drinking from a bottle and having a bedtime bottle without brushing afterwards. My older daughter drank a bottle of milk first thing in the morning until she was almost 3.5; she’s 4.5 now and she’s never had a cavity. We did stop the bedtime bottles (by gradually watering them down) some time around 18 months. As far as sippy cups go, we taught both my girls to use them (with water) around 7 months by taking out the valves. That way the cups dripped into their mouths and they… Read more »

cagey (kelli oliver george)
Guest

My kids weaned at 15 mos and 18 mos, respectively. Neither one took a bottle very well and sippy cups were a complete failure for us. I began teaching them how to use straws around the 10-11 month mark (the technique I used was simply dipping the “drink” end of the straw into their mouths and letting them practice that way. Because they could use regular straws, we moved past sippy cups into strawed cups (I recommend Munchkin, they are very smell resistant, says she who has discovered more than one lurking underneath the couch. bleh) One advantage of straws… Read more »