Teaching your little one on how to drink from a cup may take some patience. Whether you are introducing your child to a sippy cup or a training cup as an alternative to breast or bottle, your little one can learn that there is another route or alternative to liquid refreshments.

Training your child to drink from a cup provides another way to give your little one fluids like water, juice or milk, when the mother is not available to nurse or when a bottle is not within your reach. Drinking from a real cup can also help your toddler gain mastery over his or her mouth muscles while fostering his fine motor skills and coordination.

When Should You Introduce a Sippy Cup?

Encourage your toddler to use a sippy cup whenever you think he is ready. There are some babies who enjoy using a training cup as early as six months while there are others who start after their first birthday. However, to prevent tooth decay, the American Dental Association recommends transitioning to a sippy cup during or after the child’s first birthday.

Encourage your toddler to drink from a sippy cup to prepare him to drink from a regular cup.
Encourage your toddler to drink from a sippy cup to prepare him to drink from a regular cup.

Best Ways to Transition to a Sippy Cup

There are some babies who take a sippy cup immediately while there are others who take a while to get used to the idea. Here are the best ways to transition to a sippy cup:

  • Start with a soft, pliable spout since it feels more familiar to your baby than a hard plastic one.
  • Show your little one how to raise the cup to his mouth and tip it up to drink. You may also demonstrate that the spout is like a nipple by touching the spout’s tip to the roof of his mouth to stimulate the sucking reflex.
  • Give your baby some time. Until he masters the technique of drinking from a sippy cup, put only water in the cup to avoid messes. If your child doesn’t take the cup right away, wait for a few weeks and give it a try again.
  • Try different kinds of sippy cups. There are different kinds of cups with different kinds of spouts. Since they are not too expensive, you can let your baby try different kinds until you find one that suits him.
Give your baby some time when training to drink from a sippy cup. [Image Credit: Kris Gobbard / flickr]
Give your baby some time when training to drink from a sippy cup. [Image Credit: Kris Gobbard / flickr]

What If My Child Refuses The Sippy Cup?

There are different kinds of reasons babies reject sippy cups. Some babies go straight to a sippy cup. However, if you want your baby to use a sippy cup, here are some tactics that you may find useful:

  • Before giving the cup to your baby, dip the spout into a breast milk or formula. You may also put a bottle nipple in your baby’s mouth and after he starts sucking, you may replace it with a sippy spout immediately.
  • Switch halfway. If the baby drinks from a bottle, give him half of the formula or breast milk in the bottle. Once it is empty, switch to the sippy cup for the second half of feeding.
  • Teach your little one to drink from the cup without the lid on. Put one to two teaspoons of liquid in the cup and help your baby to raise the cup to his mouth.
  • Offer your baby to use a straw. There are some cups with built-in straws and some babies find them easier to use than using a spout.
  • Try other beverages. There are some babies who may drink water or juice instead of breast milk or formula.
Instead of milk, you can also put juice or water. [Image Credit: Randy Robertson / flickr]
Instead of milk, you can also put juice or water. [Image Credit: Randy Robertson / flickr]

Are There Any Safety Concerns?

Just to be safe, do not let your child drink from a plastic bottle or cup that is scratched or damaged. A cup with scratches may harbor bacteria and may leach chemicals.