Congratulations on transitioning your baby to solids at the 6 months mark! But did you know that this is also around the right time to be introducing them to sippy cups?
While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends weaning from the bottle before 18 months of age, your baby can start using a sippy cup as long as he or he can sit unassisted in a high chair to eat solid food.
It would be good to discontinue bottle use after making this switch as it would be easier for your little one to give up the bottle. However, there are still parents who choose to continue offering the bottle for milk until their babies are a little older. Parents just need to be mindful of how that can contribute to tooth decay and how the bottle could end up becoming a comfort object.
Types of Sippy Cups
Transitioning from bottle to an open cup is no easy feat. Some toddlers still spill their drinks not because they want to, but because it requires a lot of coordination to do this without spilling. This is why sippy cups are a great option because they allow your little one to keep practising without all the mess.
There are four main types of sippy cups currently in the market. Parents can choose between a hard spout, soft spout, straw and flat lid options (sometimes called a 360). Just like bottles, parents may purchase more than one type of sippy cup. This is highly dependent on its usage as well as the developmental stage of your child. There are even use-and-throw options that are convenient to bring along. But as the name suggests, they are cheap and not very durable.
What should I look out for when choosing the best sippy cup?
There are a couple of features worth looking into when buying the best sippy cup for your baby. Here are some of the things to consider:
Is it Leak-free and durable?
One of the biggest pet peeves for parents is when the sippy cup leaks. Nobody wants to chuck a sippy cup into a carry on bag, just to find out later that it leaked leaving you with one big mess. Choose the ones that are leak-proof and durable. Some are more leak-proof than others. Don’t forget that the sippy cup will need to withstand being flung about, pushed off the table and baby chair trays amongst other things. After all, the whole point of the sippy cup is ensuring minimal mess when your child is drinking from it. It wouldn’t work if it is already leaking before we even start!
Is it easy to clean?
Mainly because there is always food build-up, germs, even mold hiding in tiny straws and spouts especially if the sippy cup is offered during meal times. Cups with parts that can be taken apart will ensure better and more thorough cleaning, so do keep a lookout for those. This is also a good time to see if the brand sells replacement parts because babies and toddlers have been known to chew on straws and spouts. Buying a replacement part is definitely more cost-effective compared to buying a new cup every single time.
Is it safe?
More so is it BPA-free and free of other possibly harmful chemicals? The last thing we want to do is hand over a cup that leaches chemicals to our loved ones. If you are unsure of what BPA-free means, you can read our article “Best Baby Bottles for Newborns – Glass, Stainless Steel, Plastic or Silicone” comparing all the different types of materials used to make milk bottles. However generally BPA-free cups have very high heat resistance and are safe to use.
Is it easy to use?
You need to bear in mind that you might not buy the right one the first time around. You might have bought the best and your baby might still end up not liking it. Depending on what age you introduce sippy cups, some do better with spouts, while others prefer straws. Should you get one with an anti-colic valve? How about those with weighted straws so that your little one can still drink regardless of how the cup is tilted?
Parents should try to look for cups with handles to make it easier for little hands to grab a hold off. They should also be removable so that as your child becomes more skilled at holding a cup, you can opt to take them off completely. Ideally, the cups should have measuring marks so that parents can track fluid intake and maybe a cover as well, for hygienic purposes.
Sippy cup in Stages
Ages 4 to 6 months:
Sippy cups meant for this age group are usually small in size, with softs spouts and come with easy-grip handles that are small. The main goal here isn’t so much the drinking but more on mastering their hand to cup coordination. So it is more for motor skills rather than drinking the contents itself. Never leave your child unattended with a sippy cup if you’re starting them at this age,
Ages 6 to 12 months:
From here on parents have more choices: with spout, with straw or flat lids. Remember your little one is still trying to master holding the cups on his or her own so cups with handles will be very helpful. Sippy cups meant for this age group are usually larger, but you need to refrain from filling it all the way to the top otherwise your baby will not be able to lift it at all! To be on the safe side, continue to supervise your little one using his or her sippy cup until they pass the 1-year-old mark.
Ages 12 to 18 months:
Your toddler would have mastered holding his or her cups by now. The next step is to remove the handles to get them used to the feel of holding a regular cup. Sippy cups made for this age group also have a larger capacity. But to accommodate your little one’s small hands, they are curved inwards in the middle like an hourglass, to help them get a better grip. Do remember to take note of the cup’s base when buying a toddler sippy cup. Some of these cups may have a bigger base which may not fit into a standard cup holder or into the bottle pocket compartment of some diaper bags.
18 months and older
By 18 months, your toddler should be ready to switch to cups without valves that require a lot of sucking effort. Parents have the option to choose between sport spouts and sport straws to help bring them one step closer to graduating to a regular cup. When in the comfort of your own home, let your toddler practise with a regular cup as much as possible so that they can learn to sip instead of suck. Of course, continue to take cues from your toddler. It is completely okay if your child doesn’t get it right all the time because every child progresses differently. Remember that you always have the option to try other designs if the current one helping. Your family doctor or paediatrician may also be able to give you some pointers on weaning your child to a cup. Soon your little one will be able to drink from a regular cup and you can stow away those sippy cups for good.