Once you’re ready for sippy cups, there are a lot of questions that come up like when to start? What kind of sippy cup is best? What happens if my toddler doesn’t like sippy cups? And how to transition to an open cup? Here’s a handy guide to all things sippy cups!
When to Start Sippy Cups
Did you know you can start sippy cups as early as 6 months? Most babies are ready to start drinking from sippy cups sometime between 6 and 9 months. They’re just practicing, though. You probably shouldn’t take away their bottle until they’re about a year old.
Babies get most of their nutrition from formula or breast milk during their first year. So a bottle is the best way to deliver that. Once they turn into a toddler at their first birthday, they should be getting more calories from food than milk. So that means they start to drink like we do: sipping, not chugging. lol
So why give your baby a sippy cup before a year old? Well, they’re new at this. They need to practice holding it and maneuvering it to their mouth. It’s also a good time to try out different kinds of sippy cups so you know what type they prefer to use. Some babies are pickier than others. Mine only took one kind of cup! Others will have no problem using whatever you hand them.
Types of Sippy Cups
Ok, so you’ve got several options to choose from. Different tops and sizes! Most sippy cups come in stages as well.
Stages of a sippy cup
Stage 1 (the introductory cups) usually have handles on the sides to make it easier for tiny hands to hold onto them. They also hold the least amount of liquid. It’s usually 6oz. They’re best for the 6-9 month range. Some examples include: these from Playtex and this cute penguin cup.
Stage 2 are a little bigger at about 10oz. And they don’t have handles. They’re what you’d typically think of when you think about sippy cups. The ones Toot used through this stage are by Nuby and she wouldn’t take anything else. They’re best for 9 months and up. We used them until she was about 15 months or so.
Stage 3 cups are still 10oz but will sometimes have a straw. They’re best for over a year old. These cups with straws from Playtex are double walled so their drink stays cooler longer. Toot never wanted a straw cup. She went right to a spoutless sippy cup.
There are stage 4 sippy cups for toddlers over 2, but they’re just a little bigger. They’re 12oz. You don’t necessarily have to get stage 4 cups. Toot is almost 2 and a half and she still uses the spoutless cup.
Types of tops
Babies and toddlers are most picky about the type of top the sippy cups have. It’s a texture-feely type of thing.
Hard spouts are the traditional type of cup top. They’re just hard plastic. Toot never liked them. To make them spill proof, they have a plastic stopper on the inside that needs to come out when you clean it. The only ones that don’t have the inside stopper are the take and toss cups. They’re basically disposable. They have a stopper on the outside.
Soft spouts are made of silicone and are easier to start with because they feel more like a bottle nipple. Toot would only take this kind for a long time. The silicone part pops out of the plastic ring to wash. You can throw it all in the dishwasher. They’re kind of hard to get back together though.
Straw tops obviously have straws. They can’t be pulled out by your toddler. They’re part of the top of the cup. The straws do come out to clean though. There are 4 parts to most straw cups. I found that they’re super hard to clean, but that may just be me. I wasn’t a fan of them. The straws flip down with a cover when not in use, and there’s a valve system in the straw so it won’t spill.
Spoutless sippy cups are our favorites. I’ve only ever seen one brand that has them. Munchkin must have a patent on it. They’re called Miracle 360 cups. They have 3 parts: the cup, the hard plastic lid, and the silicone top. They’re easy to clean because you just unscrew the lid, pop off the top, and throw it all in the dishwasher.
Your baby or toddler can drink from anywhere around the top like you would with a normal cup except the silicone part stops the milk from getting all over them. And it stops it from leaking if it gets tipped over.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t know how this magic worked until I actually tried it myself. When you suck on the edge of the cup, it allows the milk to come out from under the silicone top then it reseals it when you’re done.
Transitioning to a Regular Open Cup
No one will force you to transition your toddler to an open cup before both of you are ready. Toot can use an open cup by herself at 27 months old, but I don’t trust her with it yet. She still likes to throw her sippy cup so it’s going to be a while before she’s completely trusted.
Start by holding the open cup for your child and letting them take a drink. It works best when the cup is half full. We have these small toddler sized cups from IKEA, and they’re amazing. They hold 8oz. (and they have matching dishware which we also love!)
After a while, they’ll start to get the hang of an open cup. Especially if they’ve been using the spoutless cup. So once they start to grab onto the cup and try to do it themselves, let them. But keep your hand close to the cup because toddlers are unpredictable and may just drop it on the ground. This is the close guidance stage. They’re also not super coordinated so some milk may drip out of their mouth. Or they might get a face full of milk from tipping it too much.
Once they can handle the mechanics of tilting the cup appropriately, you can start letting them practice in their high chair or at the table. You’ll want to make it somewhere without carpet for easy clean up if there’s a spill. They need to practice picking it up and setting it down during this stage. But I would take it away from them while they’re not drinking it so they don’t accidentally knock it over while eating.
The Sippy Cup FAQ
1. How often do you need to wash them?
At least rinse off each time you refill it. Clean every day with soap and water or in the dishwasher.
2. How often do you need to replace them?
Anytime they’re damaged or get mold on them. Replace daily-use cups every 2-4 months to prevent mold.
3. My toddler doesn’t like sippy cups, what do I do?
Try different types of tops. Your little one might not like the feel of the tops.
Try showing them how to drink out of it yourself or have an older toddler show them how to drink out of it. They might not get the concept and won’t even try to figure it out.
Dip the spout in milk so they understand that’s what’s inside of it. Or open the top to show them what’s inside.
Use different liquids in it. Some toddlers won’t drink milk out of sippy cups. Water or juice might work. Limit juice to half a cup a day so they don’t get too much sugar. You can even try chocolate milk if you’re willing to go down that road.
4. How do I store my sippy cups?
You can store the cups intact so they’re ready for use or store all of the parts separately. I like to store ours intact.
5. Which sippy cup is the best?
The one your child will use and is easy for you to clean. It’s a personal preference. But I recommend the Miracle 360 cups. They’re our faves.
Which sippy cups do you like the best?
Let me know in the comments below!
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