Bottle-to-Cup Transitions

How to help your child during this difficult switch.

Q. My 1-year-old doesn't want to drink her milk from a cup, but when I pour it into the bottle, she gulps it down. Is there a solution?

A. For many babies, sucking on a bottle has become more than a way of taking in nutrition. It's also a way they soothe themselves (similar to sucking on a pacifier). As with all transitions, before you begin, think about what else is going on in your child's life. For example, have you just weaned her off the breast? Or has she started with a new childcare provider? If so, you may want to wait a month or so before beginning the switch to cups.

Experimentation and Exploration

The next step is to ask your pediatrician how much milk your child needs at this age so you can make sure she gets this amount. Then let your daughter explore different cups -- such as a sippy cup and a cup with a straw. Once you see which cup she likes best, begin the transition by offering a cup of milk with her meals and snacks. Until your daughter is consistently using the cup during the day, keep using the bottle at naptime and bedtime, since these transitions are often the ones when children need comforting most. Once you've successfully introduced a cup at naptime, you can offer a cup at bedtime. Most kids will protest this, to varying degrees, and may briefly reduce how much they drink. But don't worry -- their intake soon returns to normal.

Claire Lerner, LCSW, is a child development specialist at Zero to Three, a nationwide nonprofit that promotes the healthy development of babies and toddlers (

Originally published in American Baby magazine, December 2006.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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