Many pediatricians recommend weaning babies from bottle to cup sometime between 12 and 18 months. Extended sucking on bottles (or pacifiers or thumbs) could gradually change the shape of a toddler’s mouth, leading to problems with his dental arch or with speech. And while sippy cups have valves, bottles don’t — that means formula, milk or juice can continually dribble out, pooling around teeth and causing decay.
Making the move
To move from bottle to cup, first invite your baby to play with the cup and try it out when she’s not really hungry or thirsty, so she’s not frantic if she doesn’t figure it out right away. After she gets the hang of it, gradually substitute one bottle feeding at a time over the course of a week or more. End with the most beloved bottle, which is usually the one before bedtime or nap.
Bump up snuggle time
Make sure to give your baby lots of close physical contact and hugging when those final bottles are being replaced, so it’s only the bottle she’s missing, not your time or cuddling. And as with bottles, don’t let your child take a sippy cup of formula or breast milk to bed.
Shop around for sippy cups
If your child is really resistant to picking up a cup, try a cup with a different design or character. You can even let her pick a special cup herself. It may turn out that a different type of valve, spout or handles will work better for her.
Sandy and Marcie Jones are the authors of Great Expectations: Baby's First Year. Order your copy from Barnes & Noble