Introducing Sippy Cups To Your Baby
Want to know if your child is ready to drink for sippy cups? This is how to know if your child is ready - and how to gradually introduce sippy cups.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your child is probably ready to start introducing him or her to sippy cups when he or she is 6 to 9 months old. In general, if your baby can sit on his or her own in a high chair -- meaning, his or her neck is well controlled, he or she can sit upright for long periods of time, and can move his or her head and hands independently -- then you can start to consider introducing dental-care sippy cup and feeding only on breast milk and/or bottles. In fact, recent pediatric studies have found that about 9 months is the "ideal" age for a baby to move out of the bottle (although direct care can and should continue as long as you and your baby are willing). About a 12-month period is when he or she should drink only through sippy cups (and breasts, if you continue nursing).
There are some important reasons why introducing sippy cups at this time can be beneficial for your baby, including:
Bottles may increase the likelihood of cavities. This is simply due to the mechanism of sucking from a bottle rather than drinking from a sippy cup. Sugar stays on teeth for longer in this way, which can lead to tooth decay.
Children who were still using bottles at age 2 had a higher risk of obesity later in life. Research has shown that children who are still using a bottle at the age of two are more likely to be obese by the age of six. This is usually because these children, despite eating mostly solid foods at this time, learn to carry a bottle with them and drink it regularly - which can lead to too many calories a day.
Conversely, the opposite can happen -- children who are overly dependent on bottles may not want to eat a lot of solid foods, and bottles remain their main source of nutrients even after they transition to toddler-hood.
Prolonged use of a bottle may affect the positioning and development of permanent teeth. There is evidence that the mechanism of persistent sucking may affect the development of facial muscles, the top of the baby's mouth, and the final position of adult teeth. This can lead to clenching, crooked teeth, and eventually needing orthodontics later in life.
With this in mind, it is important to step on it and remember that your child may still be very close to their bottle right now. This can be a scary change for your baby, so be patient and start using sippy cups gradually - rather than the usual sudden changes. Consider the following factors to help familiarize your baby with this strange new phenomenon:
Let the baby look, touch, and hold. It may be that your child becomes more interested in what the sippy cup looks like, what it feels like in the hand, or even what happens when the sippy cup is put down. First of all, bring out a sippy cup every day - empty, so as not to waste your precious liquid gold! -- Let them play with familiarity.
Show your child how to bite properly. Once he or she is familiar with the look, feel and mechanics of a sippy cup, start filling it with a small amount of breast milk drawn out and show them how to take a sip. Try putting their hand over the handle and helping them lift the nozzle to their mouth and then allow a drop or two to reach their lips.
Keep it slow and steady. If your baby is attached to the bottle and/or breast, try sippy cup feeding instead of one feed per day. By gradually increasing the number of sippy cups you feed each day, your child has the opportunity to mitigate this change.
Make it fun! Don't forget to celebrate your baby and tell him or her how excited you are every time they are willing to accept and finish feeding with a new straw. This is a great way to help your baby understand that change is not a bad thing or a terrible thing and that you are happy to support and encourage them as they grow. Once your baby has fully transitioned to sippy cups, celebrate this new milestone, mom -- this time it's time for you to enjoy with your baby!
Introducing baby sippy cups can be a process, and most babies don't take a full night off from their bottles. There may be days when your child will feed easily from their sippy cup and show great interest, and there may be days when they may not be interested. Remember to be patient and don't force yourself - the balance between a child's pace and providing strong encouragement as they grow and achieve these milestones is not always simple or linear. Most importantly, your baby is healthy and growing as he or she expects!