Bottle vs. Sippy Cup

1 May

So here’s a question. Why is it ok for babies to breastfeed until they’re 2 or 3 (or even older) but they have to be done with a bottle by the time they’re 18 months? Ok, make the argument that ‘they need to learn that milk comes from somewhere other than a bottle.’ That same argument could be made for breastfeeding – milk won’t always come from their mother’s breasts. And yet, professional organizations like the AAP and WHO are proponents of breastfeeding ‘as long as mother and child desire’.

I’m not convinced about the need for babies to use a sippy cup. In this article on BabyCenter and this one on Parents.com, the main reason given for the transition from bottle to sippy cup is tooth decay – a toddler sipping from a bottle all day is more disposed to tooth decay. Not only does Emma not do that (she gets her bottles at mealtime and that’s it), toddlers are just as capable of carrying around a sippy cup to sip from all day. It is called a sippy cup after all. Also, we brush Emma’s teeth after her nighttime bottle, so the tooth decay argument falls short there too.

The other reason I’ve heard about transitioning to sippy cups is that “a 1-year-old’s will is more malleable than a 2-year-old’s” (see this article and this article). Ok, I can see that. BUT what about the idea that sometimes, kids just need to transition when they’re good and ready? There have been several things already in my short stint as a mother that I have put off for weeks or months, dreading the transition, but then Emma surprises me by transitioning herself. And I rejoice that I procrastinated because the transition ended up being so easy. So maybe, just maybe, Emma will wean herself from bottles when she’s ready – and maybe that will only be 3-4 months from now. Maybe it’ll be a year from now.

I can also see an argument being that babies drink more milk from bottles than from a sippy cup, thereby making them less hungry for table foods. Maybe some babies have that problem, but Emma does not. She can pack the food away – yesterday, she ate an entire PB & J sandwich! She’s also gaining weight at a consistent, average pace, so her milk consumption (which is 20-25 ounces on any given day) doesn’t seem to be out of control.

You may be wondering, What does this lady have against sippy cups? Well, since you asked…

For one, I don’t really see how they’re that different from a bottle. The no-spill kind are pretty much bottles with handles and the nipple is a slightly different shape. They’re so darn hard to drink out of that it still requires quite a bit of sucking – so much that the ‘spouts’ become deflated from the pressure. I’ve tried sucking on them myself and it’s tough! And with the non-no-spill kind, Emma plays around with them so much that the water (which is what she drinks out of them the most) goes everywhere. (I have to admit they do work well for me helping her drink water though.)

Which brings me to another reason I dislike the sippy… Emma thinks they’re a toy. With the bottle, she’s (pretty much) all business. She guzzles it down and gets on to playing. The sippy, she tips it over. She holds it upside down. She throws it on the floor. She tries sucking on the bottom of the cup. In short, she does pretty much everything with it except drink.

So we’re deciding to ignore the doctors on this one. Right now, we are doing a combination of bottles, sippy cups and regular cups. It works for us. Emma is still getting that all-important exposure to drinking vessels other than bottles, and she still sleeps a glorious 10-12 hours straight after downing 8-14 ounces of milk from her nighttime bottle. And since I’ve already told Emma that I’m not calling her a toddler until she starts toddling (aka walking), I’m going to enjoy snuggling my bottle-drinking baby a while longer. 😉

Disclaimer: Please don’t interpret this as a knock against all of you loving, doting, sippy-cup-using mothers out there. It’s more of a knock against ‘medical recommendations’ and ‘how you ought to parent’ and ‘when your kids should do things.’ In the case of the sippy cup… I’m just not convinced.

6 Responses to “Bottle vs. Sippy Cup”

  1. Theresa May 1, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    maybe a straw? Abby is a champion straw drinker! I personally wouldn’t mind transitioning from bottles simply bc they are such a pain to clean, but definitely see your point too

  2. Theresa May 1, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    also, I’m glad I’m not the only one with a (or two) one year old(s) that aren’t walking yet!

  3. pintofgoals May 1, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    We’re also not doing sippy cups much. I bought the Avent no-spill one where her nose presses against the inside circle and allows water out, but we haven’t used it often. Finley drinks water out of her kids’ Contigo or a regular cup. I agree with you about allowing your baby to lead the way with things – that’s been my parenting style for Finley’s life so far. But to each their own as you said 🙂

  4. Sky May 2, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    Hi Kathy. I agree with a lot of your points. A lot of the sippy cups are just bottles in disguise, and you’re not gaining much by using them. The non-valved straw cups do offer advantages over bottles, though. The small holes and valves in bottles and sippy cups cause the liquid to pool in the mouth, increasing the contact with teeth, and can cause “baby bottle tooth decay”. Also, the sucking action is different between the bottle/sippy vs. a straw cup. A straw cup uses mouth muscles that are also used in speech, so speech therapists tend to recommend straw cups.

  5. Natalie @ The Ravenous Mommy May 3, 2014 at 6:00 am #

    I agree! Wyatt still has 4 bottles a day, which he loves. We only put water in the sippy, which he is always playing with too. I plan to stick with bottles for a while…

  6. monthsbeforeyou May 3, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    We didn’t have much of a choice with daycare….he had to transition to stay in line with the way they provide food, drink, etc. We even wanted to skip sippy and just do straw but they don’t use straw there….so nope. It took a few different sippy cups to find the one daxton would actually drink out of and not play with though! Now he treats his sippy like his old bottle when he sees it he is ready for milk, water,etc.!

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