There really is no “right” age to introduce your baby to a sippy cup. Most parents start to introduce the cup anywhere from six months to a year old. In some cases, the baby may be even younger. We had to introduce a cup at 3 months to a breastfed baby who refused bottles! It turns out; many breastfed babies bypass the bottle and move straight to the sippy cup.
The most important factor in determining the right time is your baby. Some babies are interested in the cup and will take to it faster. Other babies may be resistant at first or completely refuse to take the cup. In this case, the best thing to do is put the cup away for a few weeks, or a few months.
Choosing the right Sippy Cup
When you go shopping for a sippy cup, you will be amazed at the sheer number of choices. There are literally dozens of styles to choose from. The good news is that the type of cup isn’t really important. The choice will boil down to preference—– yours and your baby’s.
Many parents prefer spill proof cups. These have a valve in the top of the lid that prevents liquid from spilling out if the cup is turned upside down. This is great news for your new sofa, but baby may have trouble learning to suck from it at first. With my younger babies, I took out the valve for the first few times, until they got the hang of it.
Some sippy cups, often labeled as first cups, have a soft nipple on the top of the cup. These are easier to suck than the hard plastic lids on toddler cups, particularly for younger babies. Many parents find success with these soft lids, even after the baby has refused others.
Introducing the Sippy Cup
For best results, introduce the cup when baby is not hungry or tired. A tired or hungry baby will be in no mood to try something new. Show the baby how to use the cup or hold it for him at first.
When choosing a liquid to put in the cup, pick something your child likes. For most babies, this will be breast milk or formula. For others, water or juice may work well. Don’t give your baby an unfamiliar liquid when you first introduce the sippy cup. The unfamiliar taste may cause the baby to reject it.
What if Baby Refuses?
Sometimes it is the type of cup that is causing the problem. Like bottle nipples or pacifiers, babies sometimes have a preference for a specific type of cup. Unfortunately, you have the difficult task of determining which cup to try next.
In other cases, it has nothing to do with the cup. The baby just isn’t ready or interested yet. Despite what you may hear at playgroup, there isn’t a race to the sippy cup finish line. Put the cup away for a while and then try again.