Transition to Sippy Cup for Baby

24 November 2011

Transitioning to sippy cups for my babies  was in retrospect an event that took 3 months. This post is in response to an anonymous comment on my One Year Old update post asking how I got Spice to finally accept her sippy cup as I had previously posted that she was absolutely refusing the cup.
Based on my experience with the two girls, it appears that transitioning to sippy cup for babies is based on physical and emotional readiness.

Physical Readiness 
This is a function of the cup's ease of use and the baby's gross motor skills and muscular development. The first part of using a sippy is learning to suck out of it with motion that's different from the sucking motion used with bottle. My girls learnt to suck out of a cup by using the Green Sprouts sippy which had no valve in it. We used water at this stage.

Once the girls mastered the sucking as well as the lifting, I switched to the Playtex First Sipster because it was big enough to take 8oz of fluid, it was relatively leak-proof and the valve part was easy to wash. It was at this point that Spice started refusing to take formula out of the cup. Now, the Playtex cup seemed a bit heavy especially when full of formula and I suspected that added to her refusal.

Third step was to use a sippy cup that was easy to lift and hold when filled with a feeding's worth of milk. For us, that was 8oz. I found that cups and bottles with handles were harder for my babies to hold when full as the weight of the cup and the hand positioning required was awkward and too much of a strain on their wrists. They much preferred cups and bottles that can be gripped using their palms and fingers. That is what lead us to the sippy du jour and our cheapest cup till date - the Nuby.

The shape was perfect for little hands to hold and lift without strain. That took care of physical readiness.   

Emotional Readiness
Once we addressed the issue of cup selection, the only obstacle was emotional readiness. Now this is a function of the kid's personality. From reading the Wonder Weeks, I learnt that what seems normal to adults is new and strange to babies. Some babies embrace the new by diving in headfirst, and some babies are more cautious and scared. Sugar falls into the first category most times and Spice to the second. To help Spice make the final emotional leap into self-feeding, we did the following: 

  • While feeding, position her hands on the cup to show her how to support the cup. Result: She held on but when we let go of the cup, she'll fling it away and scream. Parent Reaction: Pick cup up and continue feeding without any recriminations
  • Next step, place cup on her chair tray during mealtimes without holding it up for her. Result: She'll throw away the cup with all the disdain a toddler can muster without words Parent Reaction: Pick the cup and calmly set it back on the tray without fuss of drama. After the third or fourth time, she'd be so upset that I'll end up feeding her.
Step 2 went on for close to a week at every mealtime, until one day she was too hungry to care about who held the cup so she picked it up and drank her milk and that was the end of the transitioning to sippy cup for Ms Spice.

I believe the cincher was to accept her refusal to drink without drama while giving her every opportunity to pick up the cup herself. I confess I learnt this from several mommy bloggers who chronicle their attempts at potty training and my current daycare's discipline approach. Give no attention to the unwanted behaviour and praise the one you want. Ignore but don't recriminate or push the issue so that it seems to be a bigger deal than it is. When refusal to hold the cup is an emotional issue rather than a physical one, non-dramatic patience is the only tool in the parent's armoury

It may not work for everybody, but that's what worked for us and I know that I'm going to need this No-Drama approach on a lot of other issues. So far, so good. I know some experienced moms are reading this, so please do tell what teaching methods worked for you?

PS:The third part of this post is mommy's emotional readiness. I confess that I may have whined several times to my sister that my babies are too young to not get at least one bottle a day; so I held on to the morning bottle feedings for as long as I could. I only let go of the last bottles because I ran out of drop-in liners

Disclosure of Material Connection: (Because the government said so)
I, Have no material connection with the products or services mentioned
Have affiliate links in the post but my opinions are my own and not paid
Have received a free sample for review but my opinions are still my own
Have been compensated by a company for this post but my opinions are still my own

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