We are pediatric speech-language pathologists and we often get asked four questions about the “bottle into cup” transition. This is how to make the transition smooth and easy.
WHEN do I give my baby a cup?
Your child will start to eat food when they are 6 months old. We recommend that you introduce your child to a side sipping glass (with your help) A baby doesn’t need more than a half ounce of water at six months. Water can be offered at this time to help with digestion and allow baby to get used to drinking from a cup for baby.
WHEN do I wean my baby from the bottle?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should wean your baby off of a bottle at 12 months of age and then completely remove it by 18 months. While you can continue to breastfeed your child after this time, we recommend that they stop using bottles. Breastfeeding your baby for more than 13 months is fine.
WHY do I need to wean my baby from the bottle?
This transition is made to assist our baby in moving from an immature to a mature swallow pattern. From newborn to 12 months old, babies use an “immature” swallow pattern (also called a “tongue thrusts swallow”) to get nourishment from a breast or bottle. As a baby reaches 12 months, the immature swallow matures. Parents are advised to change their baby’s bottle to a cup at 12 months.
Cups with a “sippy cup spout” are not recommended. Open cups and straw cups are preferred as they create a higher tongue position, which can lead to a mature swallow. To achieve a mature swallow, lift the tongue tip to the alveolar edge (the bumpy area between the top and bottom teeth). The tongue then makes a reverse wave motion (front to back) along the roof of your mouth. This propels food and liquid towards the back of the throat. Bottles don’t promote mature swallowing, so it is important that toddlers transition to cups around 12 months old and preferably by 18 months. A timely transition is also important because children are more likely to develop a tongue thrust habit if they continue this immature sucking behavior. This can affect speech sound articulation (e.g. A frontal lisp
How do I wean my baby from a bottle
We recommend slow weaning from a bottle. This slow weaning process can take anywhere from one to six months, depending on the time it is initiated and how your baby adjusts to the transition.
- First, get rid of the daytime drink
- The second is to get rid of the morning coffee.
- Eliminate the nighttime glass
Question #3B: What can I do to transition my baby from a glass bottle to a cup of water?
Your baby should be introduced to water during meals. Your baby should be offered small sips of water at every meal, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This process can be started at 6 months old. This is how we help parents make this transition at every age.
- 6 Months: Introduce water to your baby using an open “side sipping” cup (see suggestions below). This can be used several times throughout the day (e.g. mealtime). Your baby will take small sips from the rim of the cup while you hold it. This will help your baby to learn how to properly swallow. This may seem difficult at first, but it will get easier with time.
- Introduce straw cups. 6-9 month: A honey bear straw cup is a good choice (see below). To help the honey bottle move up the straw, you can squeeze it. This will help your baby become familiar with the straw and how it works.
- 8-12 Months: Use a more advanced straw-cup that your baby can eat by himself (see below). These advanced straw cups will allow your baby to have a mature, elevated tongue position while strengthening their cheek and lip muscles.
- As your baby begins to transition off of bottles, we recommend that you continue to give your baby both straw and open cups. Your baby/toddler can be confident using different cups, while still maintaining a mature swallow and correct tongue placement.
- Sippy cups that have a “spout” are not recommended. These cups look similar to sippy cups with a “spout”. They do not encourage proper tongue placement and a mature swallow pattern.
- We prefer straw cups to traditional side sipping cups. This brings us to the fourth most frequently asked question.