Is it time for your baby to move to drinking out of a sippy cup instead of relying on a bottle?
Do you feel like it would be more convenient for you or safer and healthier for your little one to make the transition to sippy cups and solid food?
Has your pediatrician suggested it’s time to start thinking about this weaning process?
There are a lot of different reasons why you might think it’s time to get started weaning baby from bottle to solids and sippy cups, but whichever reason might be true of you, this article is here to help.
We’ve got lots of helpful information so you can learn everything you need to know to determine when to wean baby from bottle to sippy cup and solids. It can be tough to figure out whether or not it’s time to start weaning your baby, and it may be especially tough to tell if your baby is ready for the weaning process yet or not.
With the information in this article, however, you’ll quickly become a pro at recognizing the signs that your baby is ready to wean. Whether you’re giving breastmilk or formula in a bottle, eventually it will be time to wean your baby from it completely, so it’s best to make sure you’re totally prepared for that when the time comes.
And if you want to learn more about how to recognize that time, read on!
What’s the Right Time to Start?
Weaning baby off bottle to cup usually happens around the same time as beginning solid foods, but it doesn’t always have to. There’s no harm in staggering the two, and it’s always important to pay attention to what your baby needs to determine if the time is right for either type of weaning.
Always keep in mind that your baby is an individual. What worked for your sister’s baby, your best friend’s baby, or even for you when you were a baby isn’t necessarily the right option for your little one.
Be open to advice and always be sure to talk to your pediatrician, but remember that, at the end of the day, you and your child’s doctor are the ones who know best about when it’s time to begin weaning.
Weaning baby onto solids is a different process than weaning to a cup and it requires a different set of information to make sure it goes smoothly. Since both of these are often done around the same time, it can be overwhelming to remember everything you need to know about your baby’s nutrition.
Here are a few more suggestions to help you understand more about choosing the right time to begin weaning your baby to sippy cups and solid foods:
- The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests introducing a sippy cup at 6 months of age. This may seem very early to some parents and caregivers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that your baby has to be completely weaned from the bottle or breast at this age. It just means that you need to start thinking about working on the weaning process around this time.
- It’s generally considered healthier to wean your baby to a sippy cup before one year of age. This is better for your child’s teeth and also may help prevent your child from gaining too much weight. It can even help prevent unhealthy snacking habits from occurring.
- Weaning to solids can begin as early as four months, but this is generally considered unsafe unless directed by a pediatrician. It’s usually best to wait until your child is six months old to start weaning onto solids, which is why these two processes usually go hand-in-hand.
- When weaning your child onto solids, you may choose to try baby-led weaning. If this is the case, you should be even more cautious about making sure you’re working at the right pace for your baby. This process is a little bit different than the traditional parent-led weaning process, but it can still be accomplished successfully by following many of the same tips!
- No matter when you choose to start weaning onto sippy cups or solid foods, be sure you fully understand everything your baby needs in terms of nutrition. These needs change very rapidly when your child is young, so take care to keep up with them.
5 Signs that Your Baby is Ready for a Sippy Cup
Since your baby is already drinking from a bottle, you’ve probably already mastered the signs that your child is ready for a change in terms of feeding methods. However, there are many different signals you might receive to let you know your baby is ready for a sippy cup specifically. Pay close attention to these signs and be ready to start the weaning process when you notice one or more of them taking place with your child. Remember, however, that in some situations babies may not necessarily show any of these signs, and that eventually, you will still need to begin weaning.
1. Your baby is meeting other milestones on time by six months of age.
This isn’t necessarily an indicator that weaning is ready to begin, but if your baby is keeping up with other developmental milestones, then it’s a good idea to at least give weaning a try at this point.
- If your baby is a little bit behind, that isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean that you may need to wait a little bit longer before you start the weaning process. There’s no harming in trying to begin it, however, as long as you’re willing to wait if your baby seems completely unprepared for it.
2. Your baby has a strong grasp.
Without a strong grasp, your baby will not be able to hold a sippy cup very well, and this will lead to an unsuccessful weaning experience—and lots and lots of messes for you to clean up. If you notice that your baby isn’t gripping well, just wait a few weeks until this skill has developed further.
- Use a sippy cup with handles on both sides to make it easier for your baby to hold onto it. Gripping with both hands is much easier for little ones at this age.
3. Your baby has motor skills that allow him or her to move things well to the mouth.
If your baby can pick something up, put it to his or her mouth, and even put it into the mouth and take the hand away, this is a great time to start weaning. Your baby may already be doing this, however, but still may need some practice doing so with a sippy cup.
- If your baby isn’t doing this yet, just be patient. It will happen in time, and your baby will soon master this skill as well.
4. Your baby is attentive and interested in mealtimes.
If your baby seems to treat mealtimes like something boring or uninteresting, it may not be time to start weaning yet. This may mean that your child still isn’t thinking about his or her meals very much.
- Once your baby starts to get interested in mealtime and pay attention to what others are doing when eating, this usually means weaning is just around the corner. It’s a good sign that your child is ready to pay attention to his or her nutrition and get involved in the feeding process a little more.
5. Your baby has already weaned onto cow’s milk.
If your baby is over one year of age and is drinking cow’s milk out of a bottle, it is time to start working on weaning to a sippy cup. At this stage, it may even be time to start your baby on a regular cup or one with a straw. It is very important not to give babies cow’s milk in a bottle, as it will lead to tooth problems.
- It is also crucial to never give babies under one year of age cow’s milk at all.
5 Signs that Your Baby is Ready for Solids
Is your baby already happily drinking from a sippy cup with no trouble? Or do you think it’s probably best to go ahead and introduce solid foods at the same time as the sippy cup? Either way, if you’re thinking about starting your child on solid foods—or even on purees—you should always make sure your baby is ready to begin the process. Check out the following tips to help you figure out if it’s time to start thinking about solids for your child.
1. Your baby is doing well with digesting milk or formula.
If your baby is having any trouble with digestion, it may not yet be time to start on solid foods. This may mean that you need to give your child a little more time to adjust to new types of food.
- If your baby has digestive issues, be sure you speak to your pediatrician about which solid foods you should introduce when the time is right. Your baby may have allergies or may need a special diet for the first part of his or her life.
2. Your baby doesn’t push food out of his or her mouth automatically with the tongue.
This reflex is present in newborns and younger infants, but as babies age, they lose this instinct. It is meant to help keep young babies from choking on objects that shouldn’t be in their mouths. Older children lose the need for this reflex.
- If your baby is still pushing solid food out of his or her mouth after one or two tries, just wait a week or so and give it a try again. Eventually, the reflex will fade and your baby will be able to chew and swallow.
3. Your baby can pinch food between his or her thumb and forefinger.
This means that your child is moving toward being able to feed himself or herself. Although you may still want to be in charge of feeding your baby for the first few weeks of weaning, this motor skill is an important step toward weaning onto solid foods.
- If your baby cannot do this yet, it may mean that he or she has not developed all the way to the point of weaning readiness. This skill alone doesn’t mean it’s time to start weaning, but if it isn’t present yet it may mean that your baby won’t know what to do with solid foods just yet.
4. Your baby gets excited about meals and about watching other people eat.
You should already be allowing your baby to join the rest of the family at mealtimes in his or her high chair. As your child ages, you’ll notice that he or she gets more and more excited about meal time and pays a lot of attention to what older children and adults in the family are doing when they eat. Your baby is learning eating behaviors that he or she will need to progress through weaning onto solids.
- If your baby has had a few first tastes of solid foods, you may see this excitement grow as he or she anticipates getting another taste. This can be a very exciting and fun time in the life of your child!
5. Your baby can sit up very well.
Your child should be able to sit up and hold up his or her head without help from another person and without being strapped into a safety seat or high chair.
- It is very important to never begin weaning with a baby who cannot sit up without assistance. This means that your child may not be able to swallow effectively and could choke on food much more easily than a baby who can sit up alone. Being able to sit up keeps the airways open and also lets you know that your baby is reaching important developmental milestones.
First Steps to Take when Weaning
Whether it’s time to start weaning onto a sippy cup, solid foods, or both, there are a few first steps you can take to make the transition time even easier for you and your little one. In this section, we’ll introduce you to some of the most important tips to help get started on the path to successful weaning. Be sure to keep these in mind and don’t hesitate to try a few of them to figure out which ones work best for you and your child.
Sippy cup weaning steps:
- Cut back on bottles or breastfeeds per day to wean onto a sippy cup. Start by removing one bottle or breastfeeding session and replacing it with a sippy cup. If your baby takes a while to get used to drinking from a cup, supplement nutritional needs in other ways for a while.
- Give your baby a sippy cup to play with a few weeks before it’s time to start weaning. Let your baby get used to seeing the sippy cup and be sure he or she can play with it as much as possible. This helps your baby understand how the cup works and what it’s for.
- Dip the spout of the sippy cup into breastmilk or formula to encourage your baby to drink from it. This can give your child a taste of something familiar to show that the sippy cup is not something to be afraid of or to avoid.
- Show your baby how to drink by drinking from the cup yourself. Always use a separate sippy cup from the one you offer your baby for this, however, so you don’t transmit germs or bacteria from your mouth to your child’s. Try to purchase a couple of cups that are the same style and color so you can swap between yours and your child’s without your baby knowing they’re two different cups.
- Try different spouts.
Some children prefer fast-flowing spouts while others prefer slower ones. Try a few to see which one works best for your child. Remember that some babies may also do better drinking from a cup without a spout at all, and others may be ready for baby-safe straws at an earlier age than others.
Solid weaning steps:
- Let your baby play with utensils and dishes (baby-safe ones, of course) a few weeks before it’s time to start weaning. Just like showing your child a sippy cup a few weeks in advance, this is a good way to be sure your baby isn’t intimidated by the utensils and dishes. He or she may start to understand what they’re used for during this time, too.
- Let your baby sit in his or her chair at the table with everyone else while meals are going on. Never keep your baby away from the rest of the family during mealtimes once he or she has reached potential weaning age. This is a good time for your child to start watching and learning how other people eat. If you have older children in your family, you may notice your baby is especially paying close attention to their behavior during mealtime.
- Start with something very easy for your baby to swallow, even if you’re doing baby-led weaning. Baby-led weaning is the process of letting babies help determine the pace at which they wean as well as which types of food they’re ready for. If you’re going this route, you should still offer safe foods that present no choking hazard when you begin weaning.
- Starting with some mashed or pureed banana or with some baby cereal is a good way to see how your baby will handle solid foods even on baby-led weaning. These are both popular first food choices regardless of weaning method.
- Consider making a food with breastmilk or formula mixed in to encourage your baby to eat. Mix up some baby oatmeal with breastmilk or formula instead of with cow’s milk or water, or mash it into the banana or other fruits or vegetables you puree for your little one. A familiar flavor in a new food is a good way to get your child to try taking the first bite.
- Don’t try too many different foods at all once, especially if your child isn’t interested in weaning. Stick to one or two options and try mixing them with breastmilk or formula for best results.
No matter what stage of development your baby might be at right, eventually it will be time for your child to start weaning away from the bottle. Some children have an easier time with this than others, so be sure you’re willing to take your time with this process and work slowly and patiently in case your baby is going to put up more resistance about weaning.
Weaning baby from bottle to sippy cup can be an intimidating time for your child and a stressful time for you, too, but when you’re certain you’re beginning the weaning process at the correct time, you’ll already be well on your way to ensuring that it goes smoothly for everyone involved. Be sure to pay attention to your baby’s signals and learn to recognize the signs of weaning readiness in your child.
Weaning a baby onto solids is equally challenging for some babies, but this is a very exciting time and an important milestone too! This is a happy time, and your baby is sure to soon discover the wonder and joy of getting to taste new flavors and have new texture experiences too.
Whether you’re weaning your baby to a sippy cup or moving to solids at this point, be sure you speak with your child’s pediatrician about the process. It’s always important to ensure that your child’s doctor agrees that it’s time to start weaning. If your child has any nutritional needs, your pediatrician will be able to help you address those.
Good luck, and have fun with weaning!