Did you know babies should be saying goodbye to their bottles by the time they mark their first birthday? Sydney Local Health District's experts tell us the reasons why and how you can make it happen.
“We recommend as soon as you start your baby on solids, you offer water (that is boiled, then cooled) from a sippy cup” says Child and Family Health Nurse Kim Dunlop. A sippy cup, or a training cup, is a cup that has a lid and a spout that helps your child to drink without spilling anything.
You will need to show your baby how to lift the cup and pour the water into their mouth. Not too much at first, as that will make the cup heavy and the water might spill out.
Between six and twelve months, most babies will be happy to drink from a cup. Ms Dunlop says they will usually prefer it. “Once they become good with a cup, they can get the liquid out much easier than a bottle, so they like to do it that way.”
Speech Pathologist Jess Figueira says using a bottle for too long can lead to a number of problems. “Having something in your mouth for a long period of time might impact a child’s ability to babble, copy sounds and engage in conversations with other people - these are important for developing language skills.”
There is also evidence that using a bottle for a longer time can leave babies and toddlers at higher risk of tooth decay, ear infections and iron deficiency.
To help with the transition from a bottle, Ms Dunlop suggests giving babies their milk in a cup at meal times.
From 12 months of age, full cream cow’s milk in a cup is safe and infant formula is no longer required.
For babies who are breastfed, it is fine to continue to do so for as long as mother and child are happy.