Moving away from a bottle to a cup can be a tricky time for both children and parents. Bottles can often be a comfort, particularly when baby is ready for sleep. Understanding why this transition is so important and being armed with some tips to help will be useful.

 Top tips for moving from bottle to cup:

  1. Introduce a ‘free flow’ cup to your baby at mealtimes. Initially give your baby a small amount of water and let them play with the cup, throw it on the floor, put it on their head! Whatever helps them to become familiar with the cup
  2. Gradually increase the number of occasions that you offer a cup rather than a bottle and start to offer milk feeds in a cup
  3. Be a good role model for your child by showing them how to use the cup and praise them when they put the cup to their mouth or drink from it
  4. Introduce a cup over the course of a few weeks or months, use the bottle less and less until your baby has all their drinks in the cup
  5. If your baby is over 12 months and they are showing no signs of giving up their bottle, you may need to think about removing the bottle altogether. This can be done by ‘swapping’ the bottle for a ‘grown-up’ reward such as choosing their own cup

Why should I transition from bottle to cup?

Current guidance states that bottles are not recommended for children aged over 12 months. It is important for children to learn to ‘sip’ from a cup rather than to ‘suck’ from a bottle. This development can help to support the strengthening of different muscles in the mouth, which in turn can help in the development of speech. Prolonged use of bottles and dummies may have a detrimental effect on this important development.

Extended bottle feeding may also have a negative impact on dental health. Drinking from a bottle can mean that the sugars present in milk stay in the mouth for longer, which can then lead to an increased risk of dental decay.

Don’t worry if your baby hits 12 months and they are still using a bottle, this can be a slow process so just keep persevering and they will eventually get the hang of using a cup. Maintain a good dental hygiene regime by brushing gums and emerging teeth, avoiding sugary drinks and food, and offering plenty of water to drink.

My baby is very attached to the bottle – what can I do?

Transitioning from a bottle to a cup can be an uphill challenge so don’t worry if your baby doesn’t take to it straight away. The longer they drink from a bottle, the more attached they may become so starting the transition from around 6 months of age, when starting to introduce solid foods, can be a good place to introduce a cup.

Finally, it is important to remember not to beat yourself up if your baby is doing things differently to others. There is no right or wrong way. Try and start the transition from bottle to cup as early as possible (from 6 months), and work with your baby in a calm environment.

For more information, Janet says please visit: NHS.uk

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