Over the last few weeks, we transitioned Mazzy from a bottle to a cup. Our doctor told us at a year that she should be fully transitioned by 15 months (which is today if you must know) so thankfully, we snuck in right under the wire.
Nobody really talks about the bottle-to-cup thing being a big deal but I actually found it more excrutiating than our sleep training experience which says A LOT. This difficulty was mainly because Mazzy now has the ability to tell us exactly what she wants. And it's a lot harder to look your child in the eye and tell her "no" when she is communicating successfully.
To make it worse, we did a lot of questionable things that didn't help the process. Like using the cup only for water in the beginning and then not knowing how to convince her that there was now milk inside. Mazzy fought that cup tooth and nail, so ultimately, we felt we had no choice but to go cold turkey.
Hence, the "Two Weeks of Hysterics". Mazzy played up her sadness and anger with such over-the-top drama, you would have thought she was auditioning for a role on a Spanish soap opera.
To be fair, she was dealing with her first real loss.
It's now been just over three weeks and FINALLY, Mazzy has stopped requesting or mentioning "baba". Although, I have noticed that in the process, she has become a lot more dependent on her BOO and her pacifier.
What I should have done was consult with Dr. B before I started. So in case some of you have yet to go through the bottle-to-cup transition, I asked her to put together some tips to make it easier for you than it was for us.
Pediatricians recommend introducing the sippy cup at around 6 to 9 months of age and children are typically able to master the motor skills required to drink from a cup between 12 to 15 months. It is important to make the transition from bottle to cup because there are many studies that suggest that prolonged bottle feeding can lead to negative outcomes including tooth decay, excessive milk intake, and a lack of adequate nutrients (especially iron) for healthy growth. Although there is no one right way to transition a child from the bottle to cup, below are some suggestions for making the transition easier:
1) Start early: Introduce the sippy cup at 6 months to get your child acquainted with it before it is necessary for them to give up the bottle. Children who are older than 1 year often have a much more difficult time with this transition because the bottle becomes associated with comfort and security and is often used for soothing the child before naps and bedtime.
2) Introduce the sippy cup in a fun way: Show your child how to drink from the cup and encourage them to imitate you. Start by filling it with a little water and celebrate each successive approximation toward the end goal of drinking from the cup (e.g., first clap for your child when they put the cup close to their mouth, then wait to cheer when they tip it slightly with your assistance, then give the BIG reaction when they get some water in their mouth and say “Yummy!”). When they start to get the hang of it, begin filling the cup with milk, giving them an instant natural reward for their efforts.
3) Try different sippy cups: Sippy cups come in all different sizes and colors. The spouts vary in texture and size and some children respond better to one type of cup over another. Some sippy cups have special characters or animals on them that may grab your child’s attention. Use trial and error to determine the best sippy cup for your child.
4) Dilute the bottle milk: Gradually add water to the bottle milk so that after a week or two the bottle contains only water. At the same time, offer the sippy cup with the milk your child desires. You can also try to reduce the amount of liquid in the bottle and present the sippy cup alongside the bottle with plenty of milk. This will encourage your child to try it when they seem dissatisfied with the contents of their bottle. The goal is to make the sippy cup more rewarding than the bottle.
5) Eliminate bottle feedings gradually: Reduce bottle feedings systematically. Each week, remove one bottle feeding and offer a sippy cup instead. Start by eliminating the midday bottle first, then the morning bottle, and finally the evening bottle. By the time the evening bottle is left, the bottle should be filled with only water. Milk should only be given in a sippy cup.
6) Out of sight, out of mind: Remove all bottles from your child’s view during the weaning process. Only take the bottle out when necessary. If your child requests a bottle anyway and you have already determined that a bottle should not be given at that time, offer the sippy cup and food instead. This may cause some crying the first few days but be persistent and don’t give in because it will only delay the process and make the transition more difficult for you and your child.
The best timeline and approach to use for the transition from the bottle to the cup will differ depending on the child. Some children adjust easily and don’t need the process to be dragged out, while other children are very attached to their bottles and may need a little extra time. Although this transition can be difficult, it is vital because when children reach 1 year, milk no longer contains all the nutrients necessary for healthy growth.
Editor's Note: Mazzy's even using the handleless cup now but I don't have a picture.
Dr. B has a PHD in school psychology and specializes in early childhood development. If you have a question for Dr. B, please email me by clicking here.