Introducing your baby to a cup is an important step as it requires them to sip. This helps them to develop the muscles in and around their face and mouth which are helpful for biting, chewing and talking. This blog will support you in choosing the right cup for your baby.
Current guidelines recommend that children over 1 should use a cup for all drinks, including milk. By introducing your baby to a cup at 6 months you allow them plenty of time to learn how to sip and hold a cup which can make the transition easier.
In your baby’s first year you may also choose to introduce them to a free- flow beaker. This can be a useful way to help build your baby’s confidence to sip. However, it’s best to use a cup at mealtimes so your baby gains experience of using a cup.
When should I introduce my baby to a cup?
It’s best to introduce a cup when your baby starts having solid foods- around the age of 6 months. It may be messy at first but try to offer your baby a little water or milk alongside their food. Like with anything, the more practice they have drinking from a cup, the better they’ll become!
Why aren’t bottles recommended for children over 1?
When children use a bottle, it requires them to suck the contents out which bathes the teeth in liquid. Over time, this can cause damage to the hard structure of the tooth, know as the enamel. Dental caries can cause toothache, distress and discomfort; it is also linked with disturbed sleep and eating in children. Extended bottle use also increases the risk of:
- Speech delay
- Difficulty in managing lumpy textured foods
- Fussy and picky eating
- Iron deficiency
- Underweight and obesity.
What type of cup should I give my baby?
When looking for a cup for your baby, either in the supermarket or online, you’ll find there is a huge selection available which can make choosing the right one confusing! Baby cups can be useful for introducing drinking from a cup as they can be held easily and offer a small volume of liquid.
Before we take a further look at which cups are suitable, test your knowledge and see what you already know about suitable cups:
Top tips when choosing a cup or beaker for your baby:
- Check it’s free flowing – this means the water or milk will pour or trickle out when the cup/ beaker is turned upside down. This requires your baby to sip rather than suck
- Ensure it doesn’t have a valve – sometimes beakers will have valves in the lid which makes them ‘non- spill’ and requires your baby to suck the liquid out. If you have a beaker with a valve in the lid, make sure you remove it before giving it to your baby to make it free flowing
- Make sure beakers have a hard spout – if the spout is soft it will require your baby to suck, similar to a bottle teat.
Examples of suitable cups for your baby
Babycup – https://www.babycup.co.uk/
Bickiepegs Doidy Cup – https://www.bickiepegs.com/product/doidy-cup/
What about the new membrane cups on the market?
In recent months, membrane cups such as the Munchkin cup, have appeared on the market. They are non spill, however when children drink from them they become free flow. Similar to free flow beakers, it’s advisable to limit the use of these cups and offer children the opportunity to drink from an open top cup as much as possible.
Do I need to sterilise my babies cup?
Once your baby is 6 months of age, feeding equipment such as bowls, cups, spoons and beakers can simply be washed up in warm soapy water.
Don’t forget– your babies bottle and bottle attachments need to be sterilised for as long as they are used.
Top tips to support your baby to drink from a cup
- Use a cup as a toy early on in your babies life so they become familiar with it and can practice holding it
- Remember that babies love to copy so role model using a cup
- Give your baby lots of smiles and praise when they use the cup
- Don’t worry if your baby spills water and makes a mess. It’s all part of them learning!
- Be patient, remember this is a new skill your baby needs to learn so it can take time
- Always stay with your baby when they are eating or drinking and make sure they are always sat upright.
- You can also check out our blog Stopping Bottle use for more guidance
If you are an early years practitioner you can also book on our Bin the Bottle training. You will get lots of practical information to support parents when their little one is transitioning from bottle to cup.
A note on drinks
Breastmilk, stage 1 formula milk and water are the only drinks recommended for babies in their first year. From 6 months, you can start to offer freshly drawn tap water in a cup at mealtimes. You may also choose to offer small amounts of expressed breastmilk or formula milk in a cup.
There isn’t a need to offer your baby fruit juice or baby juice drinks that you might see in the shops. These contain high levels of sugar which could damage your babies developing teeth and could mean they’re less likely to accept water.
Want to learn more about introducing solid foods?
Check out our online guide Feeding your Baby in the First Year