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Transition From Bottle to Sippy Cup in 3 Simple Steps

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Lauren is a mom, marketer, and writer. Her current passions include writing about and reviewing toys.

Learn how to make the transition from a bottle to a sippy cup easier for both you and your child. Also, get recommendations on sippy cups to try.

Learn how to make the transition from a bottle to a sippy cup easier for both you and your child. Also, get recommendations on sippy cups to try.

How to Transition From Bottle to Sippy Cup or Training Cup

The bottle to sippy cup transition can be a scary change for babies (and parents)! Somewhere towards the end of baby's first year, most parents start moving from a bottle to a sippy cup. However, I haven't met too many parents who didn't worry about the transition. After all, babies (and children in general) thrive on routine—it's natural to wonder if throwing a new element into the mix is going to disrupt that.

Making the leap doesn't have to cause undue stress. It's just a matter of finding out what works best for both you and your little one. This three-step plan (I call it the "sippy cup secret") worked very well for me; perhaps these easy steps will get your baby drinking from a sippy cup in no time!

Making the transition to a sippy cup may be easier than you expect!

Making the transition to a sippy cup may be easier than you expect!

The Big-Boy Sippy Cup: Was He Ready?

I know I wasn't ready for a sippy cup just yet! The only reason I wanted to move my son from a bottle to a sippy cup when I did is because his daycare required it; I certainly was in no hurry to make the transition. He had just moved from the infant to the toddler class (most babies transition to this class just before or just after they turn one year old), and all children must move from a bottle to a sippy within 30 days.

I won't lie—I panicked. We had tried a sippy cup here and there before to no avail; he liked them OK but more so for chewing than for drinking. I should've known better, since I've worried like this before.

Dealing With Parental Panic

About six months prior, I had to break him off the best newborn swaddle I'd found, simply because he got far too big for it. I wasn't ready. I assumed he wasn't ready. I took off a few days of work and prepared for the worst, sure that I wouldn't be getting any sleep for awhile. I laid him down that night, with arms free, and waited. And waited. And waited. The cries never came.

I watched him on the monitor, wonderfully stretched out and peaceful-looking, until I fell asleep that night. The next thing I knew, it was morning and I wondered why I obsessed for nothing. Often, when we as parents aren't ready for something, our not-so-little babies have different plans. The "sippy cup secret" helped me to panic less and enjoy the transition more.

The lineup I used to transition from bottle to sippy.

The lineup I used to transition from bottle to sippy.

The Sippies I Tried Throughout the Transition

From left to right in the photo above, here are the sippy cups I tried as I weaned my son from bottles (which, by the way, were the Playtex Drop Ins Bottles).

Cup 1: For Chewing, Not Drinking

The first, the Playtex First Sipster Spill-Proof Cup, is a sippy loved by many parents, so I felt sure it would work for me. It didn't—my son LOVED to chew on it, but he didn't understand that you had to tip it back to get anything out of it. We tried this one for many months, thinking he would surely get it eventually, but he never did. I wondered if he only saw the colorful container (and not the "white" of the milk) and that was throwing him off.

Cup 2: A Messy Attempt

I then tried the Tilty Sippy Cup, since it got excellent reviews and was available in a clear cup. He actually did try to drink from this one, but this cup is a bit more advanced and doesn't have a valve; therefore, it was messy, to say the least. Not only did he practically choke on the milk/water, but he was at the "throwing" stage, and this cup definitely is not a no-spill cup! He did at least try it, so I was encouraged.

Cup 3: Confusion Over the Straw

At the insistence of a few parents, I next tried the Nuby No Spill Flip-it Sippy Cup. Actually, my daycare recommended it as well, explaining that soft straws were the next step for babies who didn't respond to the more elementary sippies. We struck out here as well. The straw was completely foreign to him, and using it meant he had to master an entirely different skill he had not even experienced yet. The sucking concept with this type of sippy cup was completely different from a bottle—plus, he didn't understand not to tip the cup.

What I Realized: The Sippy Cup Secret

A-ha! It finally clicked for me, and the "sippy cup secret" just about landed in my lap: Simply change one aspect of the sippy cup at a time so you don't overwhelm your child. We would be able to wean him from the bottle, after all!

These are the three steps to take:

  1. Start with a cup that's very similar to a bottle.
  2. Next, use a cup that's midway between a bottle and a sippy.
  3. Finally, switch to a real, rimmed sippy cup.

Below are details about the brands of cups I used during each step, how they worked for my son, and what I liked about them.

Step 1: Nuby 3-Stage Bottle

Since I had a bit of success with the clear sippy cup I'd tried, I knew if I could give him something similar to a bottle, he'd probably at least try it out and take a drink. The Nuby staged bottle is great because it has a bottle top—so it's familiar to your child—but it also has removable handles to get him or her used to a sippy cup.

Admittedly, I had to fool my baby into trying this. I started with his normal bottle, then quickly did a bait-and-switch with this one mid-feeding. He sucked for a bit, realized what was going on, and somewhat freaked out, but only for two seconds. He realized he was too hungry to fight it, and after all, it is sort of a bottle—success! We used this one for several weeks, and midway through we took off the removable handles so he could get used to the curved body that most sippies have.

Step 2: Nuby Grip N' Sip

Just like I did with the first sippy, I only wanted to change a few minor variables as I moved to the next step in bottle weaning. The Nuby No-Spill Grip N' Sip sippy has a similar shape to the last sippy cup, although it's a bit fatter. The spout is also a close match to the previous spout, except it's slightly oblong. This gets your baby's mouth used to something slightly different while still being familiar and not-so-scary. The first time he placed it in his mouth, he was confused, but he got over it very quickly—I was amazed!

Step 3: NUK Hard Spout Sippy Cup

A lot of parents stop at step two, but I wanted to take it one step further. Since the ultimate goal is to transition from a sippy cup to a real cup, a rimmed sippy cup is the next logical choice. These NUK cups have a stay-tight lid that doesn't leak. I like that the valve is easily removed, too; when the time comes, I can take that out and he'll learn to drink without a "stopper," therefore getting us very close to drinking from a real cup.

Success! We made the transition from bottle to sippy cup (rimmed) in about three weeks.

Success! We made the transition from bottle to sippy cup (rimmed) in about three weeks.

Does Your Baby Drink Water or Juice From a Sippy, But Not Milk?

Sometimes weaning from the bottle works for some drinks but not others. Many parents report that their babies or toddlers will take a sippy cup with anything other than milk—but once milk is put into it, feeding time becomes a sob-fest. These tried-and-true tips just might work for you.

  1. Try a Separate Cup: Try a cup that's completely different from the water/juice sippy cup. If you use a rimmed cup, for example, try a straw cup. While it's not a bottle, it can teach your child that milk is available, just not in a bottle (and not in the typical water/juice sippy cup).
  2. Watch Other Kids Use Sippies: Let him see other children drink from non-bottles. If your baby isn't in a socialized setting (i.e. daycare, etc.), he or she may not get the opportunity to see peers drinking from sippies. Consider a playdate with a sippy-drinker so that this can be experienced.
  3. Make It Into a Game: Chances are, your little one sees you drink from a regular cup all the time. Twist the top off a sippy cup containing milk and allow him or her to drink through it like a "big boy" or "big girl." It may be messy (tip: hold it while they drink), but if you can demonstrate what's in the cup and that it's OK to drink from it, a lightbulb may go off!
  4. Go Cold Turkey: Consider not giving milk in anything but a sippy and going cold turkey. This is hard for parents, and many use it as a last resort. You might have to go up to two days before your child is ready to try the milk in the sippy, but oftentimes, this does work.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Lauren

What Sippy Cups Have You Tried to Help Transition From the Bottle? What Tips Can You Share?

BelleBanks on March 14, 2014:

I'm one of those that can't get my 14 month old to drink milk from a sippy cup. She actually throws it on the ground once she tastes it and pushes it away. But she drinks just fine when it is water or juice in the sippy. I think I may have to just tough it out and go cold turkey and just throw the bottles away. Not looking forward to it though!

anonymous on July 19, 2013:

Thanks for the tips! I now working on "sippy"to "big girl" cup. Any suggestions?

anonymous on July 19, 2013:

Thanks for the tips on transitioning from bottle to sippy cup. I am now wanting to work on "sippy" to "big girl cup" what all has worked for you?

mariacarbonara on July 19, 2013:

Been so long I can't even remember how we did this with mine? Great info though

AlexTedford on February 12, 2013:

Very cool lens! Thanks!

anonymous on January 30, 2013:

Great advice here. My daughter used sippy cups for water and juice but went straight from the bottle to a glass at 1 year! It took her ages to finish her milk while someone fed it to her, but it was worth it in the end.

FashionMommy on December 19, 2012:

I found it really useful. Very helpful especially to new moms.

CCGAL on December 13, 2012:

My babies are both past 30, but we used sippy cups. At the time, there wasn't such a huge variety to chose from. We had Tupperwear cups that a sippy lid fit, and since this also predated the many varieties of travel mugs, I used the same sippy lid for my car cup, so it was just natural that the kids wanted to be like Mommy and drink from a sippy cup. I don't recall any issues, but it was a LONG time ago. I wish I'd had the benefit of great places like Squidoo when I was a young parent. It would have made my life so much easier.

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on December 13, 2012:

Wow, my youngest is 34 yrs old but I do remember his Sippy Cups but can't remember it being a big transition. Great page for young parents.

BestRatedStuff on December 12, 2012:

This is such a helpful lens. Know some friends that would have found this info really helpful when they were at this stage.

Lauren (author) from Florida on November 30, 2012:

@anonymous: I am SO happy to hear this! And with a normal sleep pattern, you, my friend, must feel like a brand new woman!

anonymous on November 30, 2012:

@LNAngel: Thanks soo much for the advice. I did more research and found out that it will be hard for the first 2-3 days and then they start getting use to it. It has been a week and he is completely and officially off his bottle and uses his sippy cups regularly. He is also sleeping all night. I can honestly say because of his age, cold turkey and crying it out worked for me in a week. I have a sleeping schedule now and I am spending way more time with my baby now during the day instead of feeling tired sleepy and grumpy. Advice gor anyone out there with the same problem. If you decide to go cold turkey just make sure to not do it through a stressful time and that you have support and help from family and/or your spouse. Thanks again. =]

mistaben on November 29, 2012:

Great info for parents.

Lauren (author) from Florida on November 26, 2012:

@anonymous: I think lots of parents have gone through the night weanings. I'm sure you know that by this age, he wakes (as you say) out of habit and not out of hunger. What I would do at night, is when he cries out, go into his room and give him a bottle of WATER. Gently pat him on the back, then leave. This way he'll learn that he's only getting water and not milk. Most kids will not want this and will drop the water fairly quickly. Once he nighttime is under control, then I would worry about the daytime switch--you don't want to do too much because it will stress both him and you out to no end. So once he is sleeping through the night with no wakings, then consider trying out the cup I mention above--the spout is VERY similar to a regular bottle. No matter what you decide to do (switch to my recommendation or go cold turkey) you absolutely must persuade your family to get on board with you. If he gets mixed signals, it's game over.

anonymous on November 26, 2012:

My son is 1 yr and 5 months and ive been trying to switch him from bottle to sippy cup since he was 9 months. No success. Every time I go to the dr or wic I get told time and time again you NEED NEED NEED to get him off that bottle. I have told my family to help me but like the whole world things he's still too little that he's just a baby. He has like all his teeth and 2 days ago I finally decided to go cold turkey with him. He cries for about an hour before giving in or just falling asleep. Its so stressful and I don't know what else to do. Another problem which is why its so hard to wean him is because he developed the habit of waking up about 2-5 times a night for a bottle. This is mainly the reason im stressing about taking his bottle away. I wonder what other parents have gone through this.

anonymous on October 31, 2012:

great lens :)

mslcommerce1 on October 28, 2012:

Great Info and Great Lens ! I like it!

Please see my lens

perfectbabybuys1 on October 27, 2012:

Great info! Thanks so much. These are helpful.

cakeandpie on October 26, 2012:

My daughter would onlydrink from Nuby cups- the soft spout was great, and this was transitioning from breast to cup!

anonymous on October 19, 2012:

Keep the tips coming. I enjoyed it!

anonymous on October 11, 2012:

@LNAngel: So true!

Lauren (author) from Florida on October 11, 2012:

@anonymous: Isn't it strange how they pick and choose?

anonymous on October 11, 2012:

That's cool to hear about how your oldest id with her transition. My mom had mentioned about using a straw as well and I have even had friends metion it as well. My daughter just turned 1 last month and she is getting better. The WIC program gives me vouchers for juice now and she loves grape juice. The good thing is that she will drink an ounce or so from her sippy with the grape juice but not her milk or even apple juice. Right now I am glad that she does drink something from it.

Marie Melodie on October 10, 2012:

o yeah ! haha my first baby had no problem whatsoever, I even gave her a glass with a straw at maybe 9 months. She got that right away and there is no mess. However... my new little one, just can't do it. He does not get it at all. He just thinks those sippy cups are for his teeth to chew one. He is gonna be one and he is still surprised when liquid come out of there. So funny.

Mike Best from Denver, Colorado on September 22, 2012:

No tips yet, but a big thanks for the information. Our pediatrician prints out a "what to expect" sheet at each check-up, and when we saw sippie cups for our 7-month-old, we nearly fell out of our chairs. A little intimidated but excited for this next stage in his development.

milky-way-35977 on July 11, 2012:

To make the baby used to with glasses

milky-way-35977 on July 11, 2012:

To make the baby used to with glasses

Lauren (author) from Florida on June 08, 2012:

@anonymous: Good luck!

athorne on June 08, 2012:

@anonymous: No Problem. Right now my daughter just wants to play with hers, but it does look like she drinks a little bit of it. She just sprouted 2 upper teeth so I am sure the nipple and cold water makes it feel better. Good luck on your Nuby. I have been using Nuk Trendline Learner Cup which seems to be doing well. The nipple is soft and flexible like a bottle nipple only flat. Good Luck!!

anonymous on June 07, 2012:

Thank you for this. I have 11 month old twins and I have been totally stressing out about moving them from bottles to sippy cups. I introduced sippy cups around 7 months and we have tried about 3 kinds but only for water and with very little success. They love their bottles and still get about 5 per day and before coming across this article I had no idea how I was going to approach the switch. I am buying those Nuby 3 stage bottles right now and we are going to start this plan immediately! Thank you!

Lauren (author) from Florida on June 05, 2012:

@anonymous: Oh yes, I remember all too well widening the nipples--my husband and I would try to time it perfectly where we'd try a nipple we had cut and if he started screaming while feeding my husband would be with a knife to quickly widen it before he had a big breakdown. :) Ah, those were the days (he was probably around 5 months). Also, most babies dramatically slow down in the weight gain department once they start becoming active. For example, my son was 23 lbs at 6 months, but at his 15-month appt. was only 28 pounds. Due to the crawling and then cruising he starting burning a lot of calories. See what the doc says later this month--and do provide an update if you remember. :)

anonymous on June 05, 2012:

@LNAngel: Thank you so much! I do agree with you and the pulmonary. I am hopiing that all it is is just where her body is getting used to such a change in her formula. She was taking 6 onces at a time. The directions on the can gives the number of scoops for 4 ounces or 8 oz which is 4 scoops for 8oz. Which she was doing fine with just no weight. I was having trouble getting her to finish her bottle in the recommened time frame when she was born so the doctors had her go through all kinds of tests such as a Modified Bolvarian swallow. I do hope things work out soon. Her formula is prety thick now, in fact, I had to give her a wider nipple. Once again thanks for the response!

Lauren (author) from Florida on June 05, 2012:

@anonymous: I think if you are concerned with her weight you might need to keep her on the bottle and just focus on getting her weight up, first. Give her one and allow her to play with it, but don't be too concerned with her actually getting nutrition from a sippy quite just yet. If she is doing well with finger foods, that's great! High-fat (yet healthy) options may be just what she needs (for example, my little guy LOVES avocado!). You are right, though, sometimes the food intake decreases the bottle intake...but that's ok! As long as she is getting adequate calories overall! Keep thickening her formula and adding in healthy finger foods--work on getting her weight up and transitioning to the sippy cup will come naturally, later. Good luck momma!

anonymous on June 05, 2012:

I am in the process of trying to get my almost 9 month old daghter to drink from a sippy as well. I have been trying for at least a moth or so and no progress. I have had sveral people tell me that the best way to get her to drink was to completely eliminate the bottle. The only thing is that I am afraid that she will not drink at all due to her fear of the sippy. Others have told me to take it when they are the hungriest the most. I have looked up some videos on You Tube that shows babies drinking from sippy cups and she loves to watch them. When I try to get her to do the same, she still just refuses it, in fact, almost scared. I recently started to get her to eat finger food and she is doing pretty well. Since I have started that she will not finish her bottle. Sometimes she will eat all of her finger foods or solids as well, depending on what seems to be what she wants the most at the time. The biggest problem that is happening is getting her to gain weight. She was 6lbs. 9oz. at birth and as of last week she weighed in at 14lbs. 1oz. when I had to take her to take her to the pediatric pulmonary about testing how she eats. They sent in a nutritonist who had me thiken her formula ( 3 scoops of formula 5oz. water), plus adding a little bit of rice after it has been mixed. I am afraid this will make her so full that she won't eat anymore She has a check up with her pediatrican on the 14th and I am afraid to see what her weight will be.

Rose Jones on May 13, 2012:

What a sweet lens. It reminds me of my little ones. I have absolutely no idea how we made this transition, like most of childhood that seemed difficult it now is a no brainer with my grown up boys.

KimGiancaterino on May 12, 2012:

Very helpful information for parents. I didn't know there were so many types of sippy cups available.

anonymous on May 11, 2012:

Kids drink both water and juice from Sippy cups

alexis84 from Kent, UK on May 11, 2012:

Great lens! I recently made the transition from bottle to sippy cup with my little'uns. It's a real struggle, but the best advice is to stay strong. They'll work everything out in the end (much like babies and toddlers work out crawling and sitting up!)



ViJuvenate on May 09, 2012:

I utilized their natural inclination for sucking to introduce the straw. Then we eliminated the whole accidental upside-down cup thing.

trendydad on May 08, 2012:

nice lens, which i would of read this before my kids out grew these sippy cups

thememorybooksh1 on May 07, 2012:

Good Tips! Thanks for sharing them with us .

talkies lm on May 06, 2012:

great tips! i am going through this transition with my little one now

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on May 05, 2012:

Great tips! I was just sitting here thinking that I don't remember the move from bottles to sippy cups being nearly as difficult as sippy cups to regular cups. It has been a while though.

blessedmomto7 on May 05, 2012:

My kids never drank bottles (I nursed) and as they had older siblings, they didn't even want sippies. They wanted real cups. Messy, but they all figured it out.

anonymous on May 02, 2012:

my "little one" is 45 yrs old but I remember..don't remember any problem..when I think back that far I still laugh at the vision of him in the high chair covered in spaghetti

Lauren (author) from Florida on May 02, 2012:

@SoSimplyStephanie: It does get harder the older they get, doesn't it? From speaking with my friends (and I have a very large network of mommy-friends!), your problem isn't uncommon. So many children will drink anything BUT milk from a sippy cup. What does she do if you try to give her milk in the sippy cup? Throw a fit? Flat-out refuse? You might try going cold turkey (commit to a small period of time, say 2 days) to see how she does. Since she's an older baby, she can certainly get the nutrition from other means during the experiment.

intermarks on May 01, 2012:

I have used sippy cups but its never works. My son still insist to have his bottle when it is time to drink.

Stephanie from DeFuniak Springs on May 01, 2012:

Nice lens... My baby girl is 19 months old and has been using a sippy cup since she was about 11 months with everything EXCEPT MILK. She still refuses to drink milk out of a sippy and as sad as it is to admit, she still has a bottle for her milk . I have tried everything...we are just now getting her fully of off formula. She wasn't feeling the moo cow too well. We have had to had 1 scoop of formula to 8 oz of milk just to get her to consider it. Now that we have her on milk we have got to get her off the bottle. Weird though, juices, water or any other drink she will do just fine with a sippy. Any suggestions?

aishu19 on April 30, 2012:

Bottle to sippy was not such a tough transition for me. Buy Sippy to cup..that was quite a challenge. I hope new moms get great tips from here

Oneshotvariety LM on April 29, 2012:

Great lens. We're slowly working at transitioning from bottle to sippy cup! Thanks!

KReneeC on April 26, 2012:

When my babies were just turning 8 mos, my mother-in-law decided she was going to start them on sippy cups. (She's our sitter). I, of course, was irritated at first, and a bit panicky. But they didn't seem to mind it, they just liked to chew on it. I am sure I could take away the bottles completely now I just refuse to, (they're now 10 mos). We put no pressure on them to get off the bottle........... Great lens!!!