Introducing the Cup

Archived Q&A and Reviews

11-month-old doesn't get the cup

March 1998

My baby is 11 months old and has 2 1/2 teeth. She will enthusiastically drink sips from a cup, but only when they come without lids (like the adults). That doesn't work for self-feeding, because she will lift and play with the cup after about three sips. I bought one of these spill-proof cups but she does not like sucking on a spout or maybe just can't figure it out. Any tips how to make that transition to the spill-proof cup?

One thing to try is to give her empty cups to play with for a while, including sippy cups and adult cups. My daughter was breast fed until 11 months and did not get the sippy cup concept either, but this seemed to help. Also, don't try the no-spill type untill she gets the idea, because they are harder to suck out of. If you start with one that flows out easier, then she might pick it up faster. Then you can go to the no spill type, which by the way are the greatest invention ever for busy moms! Huan

My daughter started drinking out of a cup at about 10 or 11 months old, and seemed to be able to handle it quite well--with my help, of course. She didn't use any sipping cup (because there wasn't any in the house) until a few months later when my in-laws gave her one. She then started using it because she thought it was new and interesting. My conclusion is: the more you have them drink out of a regular cup, the better they get. It's not necessary to start with a sipping cup first.

Recently adopted 13-month-old refuses cup

April 1999

I adopted my daughter when she was 8 months old from China. She is now 13 months old & is eating solids well but she will only drink from a bottle. I've tried to get her to drink from a cup using all different kinds of juices, water with karo syrup, formula and milk. She won't drink any of these either at room temp, cold or warm. (Actually she won't drink anything of these from her bottle either!) We've tried cups w/ straws, sippy cup with the sucking valve and regular cup. She only take a few sips and that's it. We've tried feeding her really dry food like graham crackers, etc to make her thirsty but again she'll only take a few sips. Any recommendations on how to get her off the bottle and onto a cup?

We also have 2 adopted children and I was unsure when to move them from a bottle to a cup. Our pediatrician recommended doing this by the time they were 24 months old. He said much longer than that and it becomes more difficult--more of a power issue in the 2s-- but if you do it too early, the child might not get sufficient oral gratification and will turn to a thumb or pacifier. I'm sure there are lots of varying ideas about this but I know it worked for us. We started about 22 months and the bottle was gone for our first by 24 months and our second by 26 months (he clung to the last bottle of the day long after using a cup all day). Both boys had given up their pacifiers on their own before the age of 1 and never sucked fingers or thumbs. When we did do it, we made sure that we did not give up the cuddling time that went along with bottle feeding. We just substituted a cup but still held the boys--especially before naps and bed.

Our doctor recommended changing from bottle to cup at 1 year, so we went ahead with taking the bottle away at 13 months. We started with the daytime ones, and then the last one just before bed. When our daughter wanted a bottle, I sat her down with yogurt, which seemed to be an acceptable substitute, lots of messy fun, and helped get her through the transition. We also gave her a pacifier, which seemed to help, although we've only just gotten her off that at 3 years old. Sippy cups were the best cup solution (without the sucking mechanism, which never seemed to work very well). We didn't worry about getting enough liquids, since I had read that this is not a big concern, and children will drink enough liquids when they get thirsty. Hope this helps. Good luck.

My suggestion would be to let her have the bottle for a while longer before trying to switch to a cup again--maybe try again in a coule of weeks. She seems to be telling you she is not ready to give up her bottle--is there any reason she really has to? I think 12 months is about the minimum (not maximum) time for a baby to drink from a bottle, and at 13 months, your daughter is just barely past that. Is it possible that during her months in China, she received less than optimal nurturing? If so, she may be catching up on all the comforting that sucking seems to give babies. My daughter (now 20 months) wouldn't drink from a cup, and wouldn't, and I just kept offering it now and then, and one day, at about 14 or 15 months, bingo, she was into it. For me, the only reason I cared was that our pediatrician (and my mother-in-law) asked at our one-year check-up whether she could drink from a cup. If that is your issue at all, since your daughter actually can, you can just say yes, she can and let it go at that.

We had the same worries about our son--namely, will he be five years old and still drinking out of a bottle?-- who is now 25 months old and has just in the past few weeks finally stopped asking for a bottle. We had a very difficult time getting him to take a sippy cup, but we finally had to accept that he needed to do this in his own time. He started off slow, but we persisted in offering different types of sippy cups and just kept doing this until he gradually came around. He would drink his cups at daycare, but then on the weekends he wanted bottles and was quite stubborn. We just gradually cut back on the bottles we gave him (with some backsliding when he was sick or we were just too worn out to try to force the issue), first eliminating the daytime bottles and finally, the nighttime one. It was a slow and long process, but the one lesson we learned is that it was okay for him to do this when he was ready and not when we (especially me) thought he should be ready. I hope this gives you hope. At least you know you are not alone.

I adopted my daughter from China when she was 3.5 months old. I think 13 months is too young to force this issue. Give her more time. My pediatrician advised me to get her off the bottle by 18 months. I think we were down to two bottles at that time, upon awakening and shortly before bed. We didn't get rid of the bottles totally until shortly after her third birthday.

I would like to present a different perspective from what I've been reading about the question of weaning a baby from breast/bottle to cup. I have two adopted children who wanted & were given bottles till they were 4 & 5 years old. Naturally, most of their nutrition was coming from solid food & they learned to handle a cup eventually like any other manual activity. Neither of them has ever had a cavity, and they are perfectly happy, confident children today. A friend's son drank bottles until he was 6, he grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar with a four-year scholarship to Harvard, & will probably be president someday. I think all this strain & worry about making your baby give up the bottle before he/she is ready is a mistake. If you have no evidence that the bottle is doing any harm, why not let them keep using it? By the time my kids were three I imposed some rules: we didn't take bottles with us out of the house, no bottles on demand -- only bedtime & morning, only 1/2 bottles were given (4 ozs), juice was diluted with 1/2 water, bedtime milk bottle was gradually diluted more & more with water, etc. My older daughter put away her bottles on her 5th birthday, my younger on her 4th. My advice: lighten up.

Expecting a 13-month-old to drink from a cup already is, I think, kind of rushing the kid. Both my kids were drinking from bottles until close to 24 months, then they began using those training cups with spouts (there are spill-proof ones these days). Gradually, on their own, they decided to drink from regular cups at close to 3 years of age. Maybe you should give your child a little more time. I think the more you force the issue, the more resistant she'll be. The same phylosophy works in potty training (at least for me).

14 m.o. won't drink milk from sippy

March 2004

My daughter is 14 m.o. and I'm trying to wean her off the bottle and on to a sippy cup. She will drink a sippy cup with juice in it - no problem. She will NOT drink it though if it has milk. Interestingly, she won't drink her bottle if it has juice in it. It's almost like the bottle is for milk and the sippy is for juice, and that's it. Ideas on how to get her to take milk from a sippy? I'm afraid she won't get the required amount of milk she needs and will drink too much juice for refreshment if I go to sippy only. Also, the bottle is somewhat of a security item for her. Jackie

Our pediatrician said it was more important that our child get plenty of milk than worry about weaning from a bottle. So now he's 2 and gets 2 bottles of milk a day. I am confident that his calcium/fat/protein needs are being met and I will worry about bottle-weaning later. I thought that was sound advice... anon

You don't have to do anything. This will change on its own. I'd consider getting a variety of cups just to mix it up a little, but I wouldn't worry about it if she rejects every single one of them. How about a regular cup as opposed to a sippy cup? Or the ever popular straw? Personally, I think only adults care about the connotations of sippy cups (mature) versus bottles (babyish). They're both sucking devices, so why get choosy? Soon Enough

First of all... Why are you giving your child juice? They really don't need the extra sugar (even if it does say ''no added sugar'')... You should really save juice for special occassions... Give her water instead... Secondly... Just stop giving her bottles... Put milk in the sippy cup and call it a day! She clearly knows how to drink from a sippy, so don't even offer her a bottle... She'll probably protest for a while, but will get over it in a couple of days! The sooner you do it, the easier it will be on both of you! :) Mom of 13 month old-- bottle-free since 11mos

My daughter stopped drinking milk out of the bottle not long after her first birthday because of hand-foot-mouth (icky blisters hurt her when she would try sucking on the nipple), but she would not take milk out of a sippy cup--same deal as with your kid, I bet, sippies are for water/juice/not-milk! We bought one of those baby sports-bottles (the ones with the spill-proof valve) at either Target or the grocery store, and those have worked great. She still drinks milk out of those in the morning and evening, and when we are in the car, but more for *my* comfort (not wanting to clean up milk spills!) than for hers (she's three now). Good Luck Donna L.

Our daughter just wouldn't give up bottles of milk for a long time until we invented ''baby coffee.'' It's just a little chocolate syrup or ovaltine in hot milk but it only comes in a sippy cup. It made her feel like she's participating in our morning ritual with us (weekends only) and it motivated her to want to drink like a big girl. Ahh, good to the last drop! Suzy

I had this same problem with my daughter, except she refused a bottle as well, so when I weaned her, she would have been getting no milk at all. I ended up flavoring her milk in her sippy cup so she would think it wasn't milk and so she would get SOMETHING. She didn't like ovaltine, but she now drinks strawberry soymilk from her sippy cup and loves it. (I figured some sugar is better than no milk). The other thing you can try is slowly mixing less and less of the flavoring into the milk until it is eventually all milk. Hope this helps! anon

My daughter was almost 2 when I weaned her from her bottle for milk. She would drink water from the sippy cup but not milk. I gave her one bottle of milk in the morning (the large Avent, 8oz?)and then the rest of the day I put the milk in a sippy cup. She would say she wanted a bottle, but I held firm and said only in the sippy cup. She would not drink from them for almost 3 weeks, then one day she said ok. And the next day I gave our bottles to my sister in law. Good luck Ali

Do you have the option to wait a few more months to discontinue the bottle? With my older kids I worried about similar things, one child kept the bottle until she physically lost it, later... the other stopped spontaneously at about 18 months. Offhand, I'd let him keep it, if its making him feel secure... my 2 year-old still has one, but uses it less often than he used to. Heather

23-month-old wants milk in bottle, not cup

Jan 2000

I wanted to know if anyone had any advice they could offer us re: weaning our 23 month old from drinking milk from the bottle to the cup. She will happily drink water from a cup but loves her milk in a bottle.While we do not allow her to walk around with a bottle all day or take one to bed, it is a great source of comfort. I have tried on occasions to give her milk in a cup but she just refuses to look at the cup let alone drink from it. Our pediatrician has been on at us to have her weaned since she was 18 months old. Appreciate any advice people may have to offer.

My daughter also seemed skilled at drinking out of a regular cup or glass when a baby, and not that interested in the sippy cup. I would continue to offer both. I always held the regular cup when she drank in order to control it, but when she was feeding herself I'd also give her the sippy cup along with her food. I'd still encourage the sippy cup, mainly to protect furniture, carpet, walls, etc! Even now at age 3.5 she's still fairly likely to knock over the contents of a regular cup sitting on the table, even if she is good at controlling the flow and holding the cup while actually drinking.

I am the parent of a happy, well adjusted almost four year old who still loves to have a bottle in the morning and at night. We make sure that she brushes her teeth well after her bottles but we have been happily ignoring the pediatrician's advice...

I am from another culture, one that gives children more time to grow and mature. I do not feel like my culture possesses the ideal child rearing practices, but I do like the time children are given to be children. In the first 23 months of your child's life, she has learned so much already... there have been so many changes. I do not feel like having a bottle here and there is detrimental at all. Of course, I am not for letting a child have whatever she/he wants, but a bottle is such a source of comfort (and nutrition!) I guess ballance is the answer for everything. Have the bottle when she needs it, but also use the cup as often as possible. When she gets older, as my daughter has, you can set goals together... My daughter has already anounced to everyone that she will give her bottle away when she turns four. I even offered to buy her a special cup and she happily told me: We already have some nice cups in the house... All I need is to be ready. I will be ready when I am four.

My older son drank a bottle until he was past three. Weaning him was easy. I went out and bought this very cool cup with a squiggly straw that ran around the outside (any other sufficiently cool thing should do). We just left it around the house for him to find, and he did. He asked what it was and we told him it was a cup for him to use when he was ready to stop using bottles. He said I'm ready right now, and that was it.