Our first child loved sippy cups... And I thought I loved them too. They were easy to make sure he was getting enough fluids and they didn't spill (well not too much!). Sippy cups were kind of like a security blanket for him. He would wake up get a sippy and curl up and cuddle with mom (this seem like a dream after having to wean him after starting OT school when he was 15 months old).
Then at 18 months he got the stomach flu and I decided to put Gatorade in his sippy cup. It seemed harmless and I knew he needed the fluids. But something happened he wanted his sippy cup more and more. And at first I obliged thinking he must be a thirsty kid. For some reason I didn't think twice about constantly filling his cup up with watered down Gatorade (um...SUGAR?! DYE?!). He was happy and so was I?!
But then...I found a sippy while cleaning out the car. You guessed it. It was FILLED with black, fussy mold. Nasty. That is when I decided we need to cut WAY down on sippy cups. If he has so many sippys lying around that I didn't even know where they all were then that was too many.
The trouble? He was already painfully addicted to his sippy and it's have Gatorade goodness. So I had to wean him. He was my first child, so I was nice about it (much slower and gentler of a wean then I probably would do now-umm can someone say COLD TURKEY). By an age of 3 sippys were just for car trips and usually just filled with water. Hooray!
Number two came along. And I decided (after months of cleaning up NASTY moldy sippy cups) we would put nothing but water in them. We always offered a glass (water) for a small sip (starting at 6 months or so) and Guess what?! She preferred a cup. She was drinking from a cup at almost all meals by 18 months and could drink from a small cup unassisted by 12 months. Ahh! She never became obsessed the juice or Gatorade and is a little water lover.
Number 3?! Same rules. She is already loving sipping from my water glass and even sucking on a straw covered with my finger.
Let me make this clear...I am not a Speech Therapist. I am however a mom, aunt, friend, and therapist who too often sees kids that are way too old drinking from bottles and sippy cups. If this is you, don't feel bad I was a victim of this too. But it is time to set you and your child free (plus hey drinking from an open cup is a life skill that SHOULD emerge around 12-18months).
Now a few more what I thinks, before I give you links to some GREAT Speech Therapy Blogs that discuss this topic as well and give helpful hints on transitioning.
1. Breast is best.
2. If bottles are needed STOP using at 12 months (For many reasons, including promoting correct oral motor development, but also to make the weaning (from the bottle-nurse as LONG as you want) process easier. The longer you wait the HARDER it will be and really that is only hurting both of you).
3. Introduce sippy cups at 6 months (Say bye-bye to them by 18-24 months.)
4. Encourage drinking from a straw around 9-12 months (even earlier if they seem interested- water please!). Drinking from a straw will help position your children’s tongue correctly for speech and give them the strength necessary to be more successful communicators (thanks Mommy Speech Therapist).
5. Practice drinking from an open cup (with your help) as early as 6 months. Just offer a sip or two of water and if they aspirate or start choking wait a few weeks before trying again.
6. Constantly sucking on a bottle or sippy cup can decrease your child opportunities to practice talking babbling and further decrease their language skills and articulation.
7. It is BAD for their teeth! Especially if the bottle/sippys are filled with juice/Gatorade (yikes!). I have seen plently of kids that have had TONS of cavities filled or even teeth pulled from juice rot.
Proof I am NOT making this up! :)
Mommy Speech Therapist
ARK Debbie's Blog
Go ahead wean your kid and increase their self esteem by showing them one more thing they can do like mommy and daddy!