Most children, by the time they are about 9 months old, have the motor skills needed to drink from a cup. If you think your baby’s ready to make the move from bottle to sippy cup, try filling a sippy cup with water and let your child try and drink from it. Don’t expect perfection with the first tries. He’ll probably drool, spit and dribble a bit, which will probably delight him! But within a few weeks and lots of practice, he’ll be willing to take all his drinks from the sippy cup. He’ll most likely be a sippy cup pro by the time he’s about 14 months old.
If you start the transition from bottle to sippy cup early, you’ll save yourself frustration – the longer a baby stays on the bottle, the tougher it is to get him to kick it. If the bottle is a security object for your baby, choose one with a special favorite animal or character to help increase his willingness to try and use it.
“Bottle rot” is common concern for parents of children who drink from bottles. A child’s teeth are susceptible to decay if he’s always drinking a sugared drink from it – formula, milk, or juice. Natural bacteria in his mouth feed on these sugars and attack the teeth for 20 minutes every time he takes a drink. What that boils down to is this: if he’s taking sips from a bottle every few minutes for an hour, his teeth are exposed to the sugars for at least 80 minutes. Over time, that causes tooth decay, or ‘bottle rot.’ If he falls asleep, tooth-decay causing sugars can pool in his mouth for hours. Children are less likely to nurse drinks for long periods of time if they’re offered in sippy cups.
The best way to avoid bottle rot is to give your child his drink and have him finish it within about 20 minutes. Then use a toothbrush or washcloth to wipe his teeth clean. Never put a baby in his crib with a bottle or sippy cup.
Finally, consistently emphasize what a ‘big boy’ he is by drinking from the sippy cup instead of his bottle, and he’ll reach for his sippy cup more and more each day.