Weaning baby from a bottle to a cup is an important step. Speech and tooth development both benefit from the switch. Drinking from a bottle can be a difficult habit to break so getting little ones to be completely free from the bottle by the time they are one year old usually means starting the process at 6 months.
The process should be gradual, initially replacing only one meal in the day with a cup rather than a bottle. This may involve using water or diluted fruit juice. When baby has got used to this regime, parents can replace another daytime meal – replacing the bottle that baby most relies on last of all. This will usually be the bottle before bedtime.
There are some practical tips that parents should be aware of.
1. Give baby a cup to play with as soon as they can hold things. It is a good idea to get baby used to handling a cup before starting the process.
2. When a cup is being offered to baby – keep bottles out of sight. If they have a choice babies will choose the bottle.
3. Before offering baby something to drink, make sure they are sitting upright at a table. This puts the cup in easy reach.
There are different types of cup that may be appropriate at different stages of the process. A Non-spill lidded beaker will have a valve in it and still needs baby to suck whereas a Free-flow lidded beaker does not. Later in the process, a small, unbreakable child-friendly cup will initially be messy but is an important stage in the process.