Time for a Cup

Why change to a cup now?

Your baby is growing up! Weaning begins when your child starts eating solid foods and learns to drink from a cup. Now your child needs to eat a lot of different foods to grow. If your child fills up on drinks from a bottle, he or she will not eat enough of the other good foods. Your child could have other problems from using a bottle too long:

  • Children can get tooth decay when they drink from a bottle.
  • Children who use a bottle can get anemia or low-iron blood.
  • Children who use a bottle after their first birthday sometimes gain too much weight.
  • Children who drink from a bottle while laying down can get ear infections.

Tooth Decay: Milk, baby formula, juice, and sweet drinks all have sugar. This sugar can rot your child’s teeth if your child goes to sleep with a bottle or drinks from a bottle all day long. This tooth decay can be very painful. Baby teeth are important! They help your child eat well and talk, and they help the second teeth come in straight.

Anemia: Children fill up on drinks from a bottle. Milk, juice, and other drinks are low in iron. Children need foods like meat, chicken, beans, and WIC cereals to get the iron they need to grow. Anemia can make your child feel tired and weak, eat poorly, not grow well, get sick easily, and have trouble learning.

Overweight: When they drink from a bottle, children may drink more than they need. After your child’s first birthday, 2 to 3 servings of milk a day (16 to 20 ounces total) and one small serving of juice (about 4 ounces) is enough. Using a cup will make it easier to drink less.

Ear Infections: The liquid from the bottle can go into your child’s ear. This is how some ear infections begin.

How to wean your child:

  • Start teaching your child to use a cup at around 6 months. Try a small plastic cup. A cup with a lid is not as messy. Some children like cups with handles.
  • Help your child learn to take sips of water, juice or formula from the cup. Give your child lots of practice. Learning takes time! Try not to worry about spills.
  • Around 9 or 10 months, start cutting down on the number of bottles your child gets each day. Use the cup instead.
  • If morning and bedtime bottles are hard to give up, start weaning with the daytime bottles. If you use a bedtime bottle, put plain water in it.
  • Give your child snacks between meals instead of a bottle. Give a little milk or juice in a cup with snacks.

Weaning tips:

  • Bedtime
    • Offer your child a cup and a snack at bedtime instead of a bottle.
    • If you have to put your child to bed with a bottle, put plain water in it.
    • Try other ways to comfort your child instead of a bottle:
      • Give your child a favorite blanket or toy to sleep with
      • Offer a clean pacifier
      • Read a story
      • Sing or play music
      • Rub your child’s back
      • Hold or rock your child
  • Breastfeeding
    • If you’re still breastfeeding your child, that’s great!
    • Just remember, breast milk has sugar too. If your child sleeps at your breast all night long, he or she can get tooth decay.
  • When you go out
    • Take a snack and a cup for your child instead of a bottle.
    • Take a few toys or books along to keep your child happy.
Keep your child’s teeth healthy
  • Ask your doctor about giving your child fluoride drops. Fluoride will help protect the teeth.
  • Brush your child’s teeth with a small, soft toothbrush and a tiny bit of toothpaste.
  • Take your child to a dentist between ages 2 and 5 years – sooner if you think there might be a problem.

Help your child change from a bottle to a cup!
Adapted from Time for a Cup by WIC Supplemental Nutrition Branch