My son’s pediatrician informed me at his 9 month checkup that she wanted him off the bottle and drinking from a sippy cup by the time he is 12 months old. Although my husband and I started teaching him to drink from a regular cup at the same time we started him on solids at 6 months, he hadn’t caught on well enough to get all his liquids that way. I knew I had to speed up the process somehow.
Oddly, switching from a bottle to a cup has been one of the most challenging and confusing tasks I’ve been faced with as a parent so far (yes, I will probably need to be committed when we finally get to potty training). Unlike most things, there doesn’t seem to be a “right” or a “wrong” way, and everyone has different opinions about weaning. Some say (especially in books) to skip all the gimmicky sippies and straw cups, and just teach baby to drink from a regular cup to begin with. Some swear by sippies, while others call them “glorified baby bottles”. Still others swear that straws are the way to go, since baby won’t need to lift a heavy cup of liquid, and the skill will be used for years to come. As parents we all want to give our babies the best start we can, and the many different opinions can make one’s head spin. I also realized that the bottle had subconsciously become as much of a convenience for me as it had become a convenience (and comfort) for my son. Breaking the habit would be difficult for everyone involved.
I ultimately decided to try sippy cups because I wanted my son to learn to handle a cup properly (he won’t always have the convenience of a straw), and since he has been bottle fed, I thought it would be an easier transition for him. My husband and I still offer him “real” cups (without spouts) on a regular basis as well, but I think it will be a little while before he masters that skill. Making that decision was the easy part. Next I had to choose a particular sippy cup, from the multitude of brands and designs on the market.
I decided to start out with Avent. I love their baby bottles, and had read about the “Magic Cup” in detail. The Magic Cups were fully compatible with the baby bottle parts I already had, which was a feature I really liked. I bought four of them with flexible “beginner” spouts. It took a few days before my son really figured out how to obtain liquid from the cups with the leak-proof valve in place (we tried removing the valve to make things easier for him, but the liquid came out too quickly). My husband likened drinking from these cups to drinking a very thick milkshake, and he was right. Our son had to work hard to get liquid out, and would rarely finish his drink. While we were able to replace some bottles with the sippy, we couldn’t eliminate his bedtime bottle…and if he happened to spot a bottle lying around the house, he would want a bottle instead.
After a while it seemed like we were regressing rather than making good progress, and my son seemed frustrated. Some days I had to choose between the importance of teaching him a new skill (and probably letting him get dehydrated in the process), or letting him get all the fluids he needed in a way he was comfortable with. The bottle was coming back into play a lot more than I wanted it to. Seeing other babies about the same age or younger drinking like pros from straws or sippies added to my feelings of failure.
I decided to try a different type of cup to see if it would be easier for him. I saw so many recommendations for the Nuby “Natural Sipper” No Spill cup that I decided to give it a try. The cups are readily available at grocery stores and drugstores, and I found the basic design for only $1.86 each at my local Walmart. Let me just cut to the chase and say that we have not used a bottle since my son tried his Nuby sippy cup for the first time. I love this product for a variety of reasons. First, the spout is made from soft silicone, which is perfect for a baby transitioning from bottles. Had I known about this product sooner, my son probably would have been drinking from sippies months ago. The shape of the spout is somewhat bottle-like, but reinforcement in the tip helps retain its rigidity and encourages the baby to use a different sucking action to obtain the fluid.
Given the elaborate valves and other means used by other manufacturers to make their cups leak-free, I was skeptical that Nuby’s valve-free system would function well. I was especially leery since my son had recently managed to pour the contents of his Avent cup into his pack-n-play (a feat I still can’t comprehend, since I was able to shake those things with nary a drip). I have to say, though, that this spout functions surprisingly well. Liquid flows through two slits cut into the flexible silicone. Unless the baby is sucking on the spout, the slits remain closed, and true to the claim, they don’t drip (even with reasonable shaking). I’ve heard they can become less “leak-proof” with continued use, but since I’ve learned not to rely on this feature anyway, it doesn’t really matter to me. The design also allows for a variable flow rate depending on how hard the baby sucks, and I love having only three easily cleaned parts to wash.
The Nuby cups come in a variety of fun colors, and are completely BPA free. More deluxe (and pricier) models come with slip-proof handles and caps, features that the $1.86 version doesn’t offer. The basic cups I bought can hold up to 10 ounces. I found the size a little bit impractical for the small amounts my son drinks at a time (he needed to tilt them back quite far to make the drink reach the spout), which led me to discover another “feature” that I love: The Nuby spouts are completely compatible with the Avent Magic Cups and bottles that I already have! I can screw a Nuby top onto my Avent products with a perfect fit, and have even been able to use the Avent handles (although they don’t fit quite as perfectly). The smaller Avent Magic Cups are great for my son’s little hands and smaller amounts of fluids, and I was so happy that these other rather pricey sippy cups didn’t need to go to waste.
Every baby is different, but if you are having a lot of trouble transitioning your child to a cup, I would definitely give the Nuby Spill Proof cup a try! This product is proof that you don’t always have to pay a lot of money to get a quality product that works great.
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