Introduce a feeding cup when your little one is around 6 months old

Learning to drink from a cup is an important skill for your baby to learn. In a perfect world, the introduction of a feeding cup should take place at around six months of age, as your baby moves onto solid foods. This includes infant formula, which can be offered in a feeding cup from around six months onwards.

Children who are delayed for too long in progressing from a feeding bottle to a feeding or drinking cup have an increased risk of tooth decay. It may also reduce their appetite for other nutritious solid foods, as babies often find it easier to drink their bottled nutrition rather than learning to eat a range of good foods, and this is often associated with iron deficiency in little ones.

When transitioning your child to a cup, the choice of cup is also important. The Oral Health Promotion Network in New South Wales recommends starting with a training cup that has handles, snap on or screw on lid and one that is easy to wash. They recommend a cup with no valve as these don’t encourage your child to develop the skill of sipping, and instead only to suck.

Importantly, the muscles your baby learns to use when sipping are also the ones used in the development of babbling and talking.

Initially, parents may prefer to use lidded cups to avoid mess, but an open cup is ideal as soon as possible and certainly when your baby has learnt how to drink. Aim for a cup to fully replace a bottle at around one year of age, to help establish a good eating pattern and limit excess milk consumption. In the second year of life, the National Health and Medical Research Council advises that water and pasteurised full cream milk in cups are preferred drinks for toddlers.

Added Tips

Good formula feeding practices include always being with your baby when they are feeding and not putting them to sleep whilst they are drinking from a bottle. Also, feeding cups and lids or open cups used for formula feeding need to continue to be cleaned and sterilised until your baby is 12 months of age.