When Will My Baby Drink From a Cup?
When your child has learned how to drink independently from a cup, this usually signifies the beginning of the transition from baby to toddler. There are many reasons, both physical and emotional, why it is important for your child to start drinking from a cup and there are ways in which you, as a parent, can make it easier for both you and your child.
When To Try A Cup
The logical time for most children to start drinking from a cup is when they are starting to eat solid food (around six months of age). When this happens, they should be cutting down on their milk feeds but will still need something to drink. However, there will be some circumstances where it may be necessary to try a cup prior to this. In very hot weather, if your child is being formula fed, they may need additional water to drink.
Until your child is four months old, cooled boiled water given in a bottle is fine for this purpose. Beyond this age you may find that your child is able to drink water from a beaker with a free flow lid (without a valve). Some mothers who have been exclusively breastfeeding their baby may find that the baby will then refuse to take a bottle. In these circumstances there are special cups available from which baby can have milk, without the need for a bottle. This could be as early as four months as well.What Type of Cup
There are many types of cups on the market, but the best one for a baby to try at first is a beaker without a valve, which allows the liquid to flow out of it. A lot of cups for young children have valves (to prevent the liquid spilling out) or even teats that make the liquid flow very slowly. As a result of this, the child needs to spend a lot of time with the cup in their mouth.
Whilst you may think that giving a child their drinks in a cup with a teat will make the transition from bottle to cup easier, you may be doing them more harm than good. Keeping the teat of a cup in their mouth will encourage 'comfort sucking' and if your child is having juice or diluted cordial to drink, this can be harmful to their teeth. It is also for this reason that bottles should be reserved for milk only and should never be used for other types of drinks.
What To Have To Drink
Until your child is six months old they should not need anything other than breast milk or formula, although if the weather is hot, babies who are being formula fed may need some extra water. From one year old, babies are able to drink cow's milk instead of formula or breast milk. Ideally, water is the best alternative drink for your child. However, watered down fruit juice and well diluted squash can be given at mealtimes and can even help to prevent tooth decay if given in these circumstances.
By the age of 1, your child should have made the move from bottle to cup, even for milk. By this age children are able to drink cow's milk meaning that there is no need to use formula or sterilise bottles. If they are still having milk to drink in the morning and at bedtime, there is no reason why this cannot be given in a cup, as with other drinks. As your child gets older you can change the type of cups they are using, so that by the time they are three or four years old they should be able to drink independently from a regular cup. Be aware, however, that babies vary in how they progress and the timescale involved. If you are worried about their development, though, speak to a medical practitioner.