Moving from a bottle to a cup can be such a daunting time for parents. If you are feeding your little one via bottle you likely cherish this time as you can hold your bubba close while they are feeding. You may feel like you are losing some bonding time with your little one. But we need to remember that there are lots of benefits to moving to a cup.
What are the recommendations?
The transition moving from a bottle to a cup is a key stage in any little one's development. The Department of Health (DOH) recommends that cups should be introduced when infants are around 6 months of age, usually at the same time as solid foods are being introduced. It is recommended that children by aged 1 year should be drinking all drinks from a cup and bottle use should be discouraged.
With that being said, these are just guidelines so please remember that not every little one will be ready to move on by this age. And that's ok! Lots of children continue to use a bottle even after the age of 12 months.
So why should we introduce a cup? Let's have a look at the research and share some tips to hopefully help any parents who are struggling to cut down their little one's bottles.
Introducing a cup from 6 months can help:
Infants to develop the skills they need to eventually drink from a cup.
Encourage the development of hand eye-co-ordination.
Develop muscles around their face, which can help with eating and speaking.
Are there any risks if my child continues to use bottles?
The use of prolonged bottle use and regular use over the age of 1 year can increase the risks of a number of issues.
The risks include:
Fussy eating: Due to the likely high intake of fluids, some children use the bottle to fill themselves up rather than eating food. Often if a child refuse's a meal but will take milk, then this will likely be given as a replacement for the food they didn't eat.
Low iron and iron deficiency: Again; likely due to high milk intake, children may eat fewer iron rich foods.
Speech delay: Extended bottle use may lead to speech problems.
Tooth decay: Due to the long-term exposure teeth have to liquids. This could cause pain, sleeping and eating difficulties and discomfort.
This blog is by no means meant to scare parents who have little ones who still drink from a bottle aged over 1 year but more to highlight the importance of encouraging your little one to explore with the cup.
Tips and tricks to help with the transition
This step might be a bit daunting especially if you have tried before with no success. It can also be really easy to get your little one to drink from a bottle, and a bit more difficult to get them to drink enough without using the bottle. When moving from a bottle to a cup, the key like most things is: consistency.
There are however some strategies that might make the transition easier.
Gradually reduce the number of bottles that you are offering. You might find it easier to leave the night bottle to last.
Gradually reduce the amount of milk you offer in each bottle.
Start introducing a cup early on during the weaning process. This will help ensure lots of practice using it once they reach 1.
Children often rely on bottles, especially at night, for comfort. Rather than using the bottle for this, try to comfort or soothe your little one by reading a bedtime story or another bed appropriate favourite.
Depending on your little one's age, you could try talking to your little one about giving up the bottle. You could use an occasion such as ha holiday or a birthday.
Lastly, make sure you give your child time to get used to the cup. Try not to worry if they don't drink as much milk, you can offer other foods that are sources of calcium, cheese, yoghurt and ready Brek.
Hopefully these tips will help increase your confidence when trying to bin the bottle!! Remember the longer your child has been having a bottle the harder it is likely to be. Once you decide on the strategy that suits you, remember consistency is key!! Try to stick with it as long as you can. It will benefit both you and your child in the long run.