Baby’s First Sippy Cup


It’s not quite time to say bye-bye to bottles just yet, but the time is coming. At about the six-month mark, you can begin introducing your baby to the wonderful world of sippy cups. Starting now means your baby may accept the cup more readily and will give him plenty of time to master it before you need to completely wean him from the breast or bottle. At first, he’ll do little more than play with the cup (and sputter and spit as you dribble a few drops into his mouth). But soon he’ll learn that his fascinating new toy can be a source of delicious drinks.

To help him make the leap, start with a lightweight, unbreakable plastic cup. You may need to try a few different shapes, sizes, and styles before you hit on the one that he likes best. (Skinny or fat? Handles or not? Sippy, straw, or — if you’re very brave — topless?) If you choose a cup with a spout, remove the spill-free valve before you offer it to your baby. It will be messier, but he’ll get the idea of drinking much more quickly. Most babies can’t yet muster the powerful suck they need to get liquid through the valve (plus studies show that extended use of a sippy cup can lead to tooth decay because of the way the liquid is extracted and then pools in the mouth).

What should a baby’s first beverage be? Start with water — it’s the easiest, least messy option. When he gets used to that (or if he refuses it altogether), move on to formula or expressed breast milk. You can also give diluted fruit juice; if your baby is especially resistant to the cup, the sweet taste of juice might win him over. (Remember, just a few drops of juice is enough to sweeten the water — overdo it and you’ll encourage that sweet tooth.) If all your attempts are met with pursed lips and frustrated cries, put the cups away for a few weeks and try again later. He’ll get there.