In between drinking from the baby bottle and learning to drink from a regular cup is the transitional sippy cup. A sippy cup is a training cup with a screw- or snap-on lid equipped with a protruding bill-shaped spout. When your baby is ready to start drinking from a regular cup, usually around 8 months, but not quite coordinated to prevent the drink from spilling, introduce the sippy cup. It's the perfect training cup to let your baby discover the joys of drinking from a cup without all the mess.
The sippy cup requires more suction than a baby bottle. A silicone valve in the lid releases liquid only when your baby sucks. Your baby can toss the sippy cup, drop it on the floor, and turn it upside down, but the liquid inside will not spill because of the silicone valve.
Sippy cups are made in a variety of shapes and sizes, with or without handles. Some have firm plastic spouts; others have soft, pliable spouts. If your baby refuses to take one, try another with a different shape or a soft spout. Some babies take to their first sippy cup quickly and easily. Others take a while to get used to the new cup and the new spout.
Some sippy cup valves are so effective at keeping liquid in the cup that your baby may have to work hard to get any liquid out of the cup. You may need to show your baby how to use the cup by raising it to your mouth, tipping the cup upwards, and sucking on the spout. Dip the spout into the milk or juice and then give the cup to your baby. Sometimes babies just need to know there is something yummy inside. Try removing the silicone valve and if that still doesn't spark any interest, try another brand of sippy cup.
It will take time before your baby masters the eye-hand coordination required to use a sippy cup on their own. If your baby just doesn't get the hang of the valve, you can move to a regular cup. It will be a little messier, but there is no hard and fast rule saying your baby has to use a sippy cup first.
Sippy cups present their own cleaning challenges and you will want to thoroughly clean the cup between uses. The lid and the silicone valve need special attention. Baby formula, milk and juice residue builds up in the crevices and openings in the valve. If the residue is not thoroughly removed, bacteria and mold will develop which could make your baby ill. A bottle brush with a nipple brush is a good tool to use to remove residue from inside the spout and the valve. If you can't wash your sippy cup right away, give it a thorough rinse in clean water. Periodically check your lids and valves for damage or mold and replace as needed.
- Yet another fabulous shower gift, the Tommee Tippee EasiFlow Cup w/Handles is a fabulous sippy cup. The soft spout encourages the same suckle and swallow pattern that babies are introduced to through breast and bottle feeding. The spout is easy to clean, unlike other sippy cups, with a firm, narrow spout. The fabulous colors make them almost fashionable to carry around. I really like the snap-on lids because my daughter can continue to use the sippy cup as a normal cup when she no longer wants to use the spout – no grooves or ridges to bother her lips or gums. The best part is the spout cover which protects the spout when traveling or walking around outside – no germs, no dirt, just good clean drinking.