It’s funny how when you have a baby, you expect certain difficult transitions but others sneak up on you from out of nowhere. Transitioning a sippy cup has been one of those sneaky changes, but also ended up being way easier than I had anticipated. You will be shocked at how much I have to say on this topic, but I hope it’s helpful!
Before I get into our sippy cup journey, please remember to consult your pediatrician before making any decisions. I’m not a doctor and am only sharing my personal experience.
Transitioning off of formula:
At around 10 months, Amalia started getting ear infections constantly. Within eight weeks she had been on antibiotics six times and enough was enough. I knew we had to make a change in order to avoid getting tubes. Since then I’ve learned that the procedure for tubes is actually super easy and quick, so I’m less scared if she does end up needing them, but (knock on wood) I think we fixed the problem in another way. She had been on a dairy formula since I weaned her from breastfeeding. She was constantly mucousy and stuffed up, and I know from personal experience that cow dairy does that to me too.
So I experimented with moving her to goat’s milk (in her bottles) at 11 months. Our doctor said that it was ok to start moving her off of formula before a year, so I got moving on that. A lot of people told us to go cold turkey and switch it all out at once, but my gut said to slowly make this transition so I would add one more ounce of goat’s milk and take away one less ounce of cow’s milk in each bottle every 2-3 days, so the whole thing took a few weeks.
Amalia ended up really loving the goat’s milk even more than formula and since we made the switch she has had way less mucous and not a single ear infection! The only thing our pediatrician (and multiple friends) mentioned about not giving your baby cow’s milk is that you want to be sure that they get enough folic acid which is one of the nutrients in cow’s milk that babies need for brain development. Fun fact: Goat’s milk contains only 10% the amount of folic acid as cow’s milk. To combat that fact, we give Amalia one packet of this toddler supplement in addition to giving her some other dairy (mostly in yogurt and cheese) on a daily basis.
During her transition off of formula, she was still drinking three bottles a day, so that was the next thing we changed…
At her one year check up, our pediatrician said that the next time we see her (at 15 months), she wants Amalia off of bottles completely. She said that after 15 months, that transition is a lot harder for the baby. So the next day we went cold turkey on her morning bottle and 11:30am bottle and instead gave her a sippy cup with her goat’s milk.
Let me tell you, Amalia was having none of it. To this day, a month later, she still has yet to ever drink milk from anything but a bottle. I called the doctor to make sure this was ok and she said that at her age there is no minimum of milk that’s unhealthy (zero ounces would be fine!) but to make sure she doesn’t ever have more than 24 ounces in a day. As of now, she’s drinking 8oz in her night bottle and that’s it.
Mom tip: When we first eliminated the morning bottle, Amalia would wake up hungry and cranky because she was used to getting her bottle ASAP. To combat this, I make sure to have a snack ready for her first thing in the mornings. I would have a little bowl of oatmeal or a pouch or some puffs on hand while I made her breakfast. It works like a charm!
Our next and final step in this process will be to drop Amalia’s night bottle. Anel and I have committed to doing it before she turns 15 months, but still want to wait a few more weeks. We both just know in our guts that she isn’t ready to drop it yet, and as of now it’s the only milk she drinks.
Update- 9/13: While I was away last weekend, Anel said he felt like it was the right time and literally just went for it. I’m so happy he did because I didn’t even have time to stress over it. On the first night that he did it, he had her go through her normal bedtime routine and just gave her a sippy cup with a straw in place of the bottle. He read her books and sang to her as she drank as opposed to what we did with the bottle which was just be silent and rock her. It took three nights for her to get used to it, but now it’s just the new way of life and it’s going well! Honestly I am so shocked by this whole process and how easy it was.
The only big issue that came with it is that for the first three mornings after we made the switch, she woke up at 5:30. She’s usually a 7am riser so that was tough for everyone, but she’s now starting to balance back out. I think the reason she was waking up earlier is because she now drinks about 6oz instead of 8 or 9oz of milk…I didn’t think that small of an amount at her age would make a difference but I guess it must have! To combat it, we make sure she eats more during the day and have added a morning snack between breakfast and lunch. That seems to have done the trick.
The cups we use:
When I first made the switch, I bought these Munchkin sippy cups because they looked legit and I like the brand. Literally I’m the worst about reading up on these things. A friend of mine had this cup so that was that. Then our doctor told us that she shouldn’t be using a traditional sippy cup because it’s bad for her teeth (think future orthodonture bills) and can also be bad for her speech development. So it was back to the drawing board.
That same week, my friend Ali sent me the Feeding Little guide to sippy cups which is still the only thing I’ve read on the subject but found it really helpful and interesting. The doctor’s advice and this article led us to the following cups which we, and Amalia, now love!
360 Cup: The article (and Ali) recommended this cup, and it’s been our favorite so far. Amalia spills way less when she drinks from it, and it seems like it will make her next transition to a regular cup much easier since it’s the same motion. Pro tip: If you buy the pink and orange or blue and green combo 2-pack, they’re cheaper than the other colors for whatever reason. That’s what we did!
Straw Cup: As mentioned above, I like the brand Munchkin, so bought these and they work great. When Amalia first started using them, she’d spit out half of the water and it took about a month for her to stop doing that. We rode it out though, and I’m glad we did because drinking from a straw is a great skill for them to have both developmentally and conveniently for parents so that when you go to a restaurant and forget their cup, they can drink from a regular straw.
Smoothie Cups: The other day on Instagram, I asked you guys for recommendations on what cups to use for smoothies. Amalia loves her smoothies but they get gross in the other straw cups we have. A lot of people recommended these which you can use multiple times and then toss when they get gross.
So there you have it. I never thought I’d have so much to say about sippy cups but it is kind of an interesting topic once you get into it. I’d love to hear how you made the transition and what cups your babies and toddlers are loving!
Thanks! When did you introduce the straw cups?
Great question! I think around nine months but could have been 10.
I think the difficulty for many parents is getting a baby to transition to drinking a milk or milk substitute out a sippy. We weren’t comfortable with dropping milk entirely so did a slow transition from bottle to the soft spout Nuk training cup while continuing to call them bottles. We removed the handles so that it was still held like a bottle. From there we went to a straw cup when they were a little older. For water we have used pretty much any sippy (360, straw cups, whatever spills the least!)
Hi- Don’t have any kids, but I once destroyed a tooth with a stainless steel straw, and had a subsequent dental bill and I’d pass along the warning at how you can really chip a tooth on one.
Oh my gosh thank you so much! That is awful I’m so sorry. I hope you’re all healed up now!
Yes, all is well now. I did end up getting silicone straws, reusable and dishwasher safe.
Reusable Boba Smoothie Straws, 10” Long Extra Wide Fat Silicone Straws for Drinking Bubble Tea, Milkshakes, Set of 6 with Cleaning Brush https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079G1Z8YG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_szbKBb8XW2QZK
Thanks Julia! My daughter and I are following right along with you. Please keep us posted about dropping the night time bottle.
We just did it so more to come! But basically my husband decided to go for it while I was away this weekend and it only took two nights for her to really get it. He did everything the same, just replaced the bottle with a sippy cup with a straw. He warmed up the milk just like we normally would.
Congratulations! Thanks for the update and you’ve inspired me to try the same soon with my daughter.