How to Transition from Bottles to Sippy Cups

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Transitioning From Bottles To Sippy Cups: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Choose different sippy cup styles to practice with
  2. Switch from bottle to sippy cup when baby sits unaided and eats solids
  3. Begin with familiar liquids such as breastmilk or formula
  4. Gently hold the transition cup up to baby’s lips to let her drink 
  5. Encourage baby or toddler to hold the cup herself
  6. Cut back on bottles, offer drinks in cups throughout the day
  7. Go slowly
  8. Make it fun with plenty of encouragement


Transitioning from bottles to sippy cups takes patience and plenty of practice. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association both recommend babies complete the full transition from bottles to cups at 12 months of age.  

Using different styles of cups from 6 months of age is important for:

  • Encouraging your baby to develop different oral and motor skills
  • Exercising lip and jaw muscles, tongue muscles, and facilitating soft palate development. This is imperative for the proper progression of adequate speaking and eating skills as they grow.

As a mother of four, it has always been important to avoid prolonged bottle use with my children. I wanted to prevent potential dental problems, obesity, overbites and speech development delays in my children. 

While transitioning from bottles to sippy cups at 12 months can be hard, believe me when I say stopping at 24 months is even harder. 

Have you ever had to negotiate with a 2-year-old?

What You Will Need

Just as when you introduce baby spoons to your little one, we recommend using several different styles of non-toxic, unbreakable sippy cups, toddler training cups, and lid styles for your child to practice with. We recommend choosing something that’s phthalate free and BPA/BPS free, but of course it’s your choice! These days, there are plenty of good glass sippy cups and stainless steel sippy cups to choose from. By using many different styles of cups, your child will find the process fun – this makes transitioning from bottles to sippy cups much easier!

Here are some different cup styles to choose from:

  • A toddler cup with a straw. Choose a stainless steel or glass water bottle with a spout and/or straw.
  • A learning cup, which is an easy to hold cup with handles on both side and no lid.
  • A 360 cup for babies, which has a 360 degree drinking edge to minimize spills and requires your baby to suck to get the liquid out.
  • A sippy cup, which has a spout-style lid to drink from. 
  • A plain old cup, such as a shot glass or small tumbler. We recommend using tempered glass and not using it on tile or concrete to prevent breaks.

How to Introduce a Cup to a 6-Month-Old 

  • Choose safe, non-toxic sippy cups made from glass, silicone and stainless steel instead of plastic. Buy several different styles so your baby can practice with them all.
  • Start as soon as your baby can sit up in a high chair and eat solids.
  • Make it fun!  When possible, give your baby the chance to “control” the cup, let her touch it and play with it, show her how you also drink out of a cup.
  • Start with familiar liquid, such as expressed breast milk or formula, or introduce water (which is safe to do at 6 months).
  • Hold the cup to your baby’s mouth and gently tip it back to let her suck some of the liquid. Be sure she swallows before offering more.
  • Go slowly, with the goal of transitioning away from bottles entirely at 12 months, with a baby who can use many different styles of cups.

How to Introduce a Cup to a 12-Month Old or Older

  • Choose safe, non-toxic toddler cups made from glass, silicone or stainless steel instead of plastic. Buy several different styles so your toddler can practice with them all.
  • Start with water or milk, or highly diluted juice that will get your baby interested.
  • Let your baby hold the cup. If he doesn’t drink from it, show him how to do it and help him.
  • Cut back on the number of bottles you offer throughout the day, serving milk in a cup instead of a bottle.
  • Let your baby drink water out of your cup if he shows interest (but make sure there’s no ice in it).
  • Make it fun, and praise your baby for drinking out of different cups.

Sippy Cups Dos and Don’ts

Transitioning to a sippy cup sounds easy enough, but some kids struggle with the transition. Getting rid of bottles is a big change – right up there with transitioning from crib to toddler bed and then to big kid mattress.

Here are some tips that I found helpful when teaching this new skill to my kids:

  • Try an assortment of different sippy cup designs and let your baby lead the way. Worth keeping in mind, switching to a sippy cup isn’t a necessary developmental stage, so it’s perfectly fine (or ideal, actually), if your kids prefer a learning cup or straw over a sippy spout. 
  • Give half the feed in the bottle, then switch to a sippy cup for the second half.
  • Try different beverages. Enticing your toddler with a bit of highly diluted fruit juice is a great way to encourage sippy cups. 
  • Grab your own cup and show your baby how it is done. Make a gentle sucking noise to encourage your baby to suck on her own cup.  
  • Praise your baby for a job well done.  

Like all new things for parents and babies to learn, sippy cups can take some practice to master. Don’t despair if baby doesn’t ‘get it’ straight away. 

When you’re transitioning from a bottle to a sippy cup, it’s important to keep some other safety and development points in mind:

  • Don’t share sippy cups with your baby to prevent the introduction of tooth decaying bacteria.
  • A sippy cup should only be used for a short time. Toddlers should be able to handle a proper cup by around 2 years of age. 
  • Don’t let your baby take a sippy cup of milk or juice into her crib or toddler bed. Besides the likelihood that she’ll spill some on her crib mattress, it’s bad for her teeth.
  • Rinse sippy cups out soon after use. Regularly disassemble all the parts for thorough cleaning with warm soapy water.  
  • Regularly inspect cups for damage, wear and mold.

Do I really need to transition my baby from bottle to cup by 12 months?

Yes, you really do! 

Prolonged bottle use is associated with a number of negative health outcomes including tooth decay, obesity, picky eating, poor nutrition, orthodontic problems and ear infections. 

My Best Tips for Transitioning from Bottle to Sippy Cup 

  • Be on the lookout for signs that your baby is ready to transition from bottle to cup – wanting to drink out of your cup is a big flag!
  • For older babies and toddlers, switch to offering water in a bottle and milk in a cup. Since the milk is more attractive, they’ll have added incentive to choose the cup.
  • Be prepared for some mess at first. At the start, some spouts may be too difficult for your baby to suck from. Offering an open cup with only a teaspoon of liquid at a time will help your baby get the hang of it with only a little mess. Recognize that kids are learning about cause and effect, and this may involve some dumping out of the cup.
  • It’s ok if your baby doesn’t want to drink from the cup right away. Just keep offering it, and demonstrate to baby how to use it.
  • Give baby an empty cup to play with and familiarize themselves with before adding liquid. Try to use a cup that baby is excited about.

Final Thoughts

Whether you introduce a straw, a sippy cup with a spout or an open cup to your baby, the important thing to remember is that a cup is superior to prolonged bottle use.  

Weaning baby off the bottle gradually, or going cold turkey, is imperative for baby health and wellness, and proper oral development.  

Remember, by the time baby is one, the bottles should be done. 

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article today. Please share if it resonates with you. 

Do you have any transition tips to share? What worked for you and your baby? Let us know in the comments below.

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