Have confidence in making the bottle swap

For some parents and caregivers, swapping a baby’s bottle to a cup can feel overwhelming and worrying.

This information aims to support parents and caregivers in making the bottle swap by offering both information on the importance of making this change and top tips to make this change as smooth as possible.

When should my child swap from a bottle to a cup?

Cups can be used from 6 months old, and bottles should be given up by 1 year old.

Why should my child swap to a cup from a bottle?

A free flow cup:

  1. Helps teeth and jaw development by teaching children to sip their drink, rather than suck the liquid.
  2. Protects children’s teeth from tooth decay. Make sure to use only milk and water in the cup.
  3. Reduces the likelihood of developing other oral health issues like having an overbite.
  4. Improves speech development
  5. Reduces the likelihood of developing fussy eating habits
  6. Encourages children to manage their feelings in other ways, instead of relying on a bottle for comfort.

What cup should I choose?

There are lots of free slow cups to choose from. It can take a bit of trial and error to find the cup that works best for your child. They make like a sippy cup with a spout, or one with a silicone straw – either is fine. A cup with handles can help a child to independently hold the cup until they’ve developed a stronger grip.

Once a child has learnt how to sip their drink in a lidded cup, without spilling too much, it is then recommended they move onto an open cup.

Top tips for making the swap:

  • Timing is key- make sure to choose a time to make the bottle swap when other changes like going to nursery for the first time, or events like being unwell are not happening
  • Make the change slowly- You can start reducing bottle feeds gradually and replacing them with feeds from a cup. Mealtimes is a good place to start.
  • Diluting your child’s milk with some water a little more every time can help get children used to drinking water.
  • Make it exciting! Make sure there is lots of excitement around new cup- try giving the bottle to the fairies or Santa.
  • The old bottle needs to be hidden away. If the child asks where their old bottle is, try to stay calm and use distraction.
  • Reward your child with lots of praise, hugs and playtime for making the swap from a bottle to cup.
  • Making a new bedtime routine with a cup of milk, a snack, a bath, toothbrushing, a book and a cuddle will help your child find comfort away from their bottle.
  • Comforting objects like a soft toy or blanket may help settle your child.

Do not worry if making the swap does not go to plan at first. It is not always easy changing from a bottle to a cup, but the benefits are fantastic. Keep trying and be positive about this change.

Remember to reach out to a GP, Health Visitor or Family Hub Practitioner for any advice around making the bottle swap.