Can a Baby Go Directly from Breast to Cup?

Updated on February 10, 2014
M.C. asks from Odessa, FL
23 answers

I'm returning to work soon and my EBF 10-month-old will be drinking expressed milk for the first time while I'm gone. Can any mama tell me if she was successfully able to teach her baby to drink from a normal, non-sippy cup? I'd rather not start her on a bottle at this point. I don't like sippy cups either. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

***To clarify, I am asking if anyone knows how to transition a 10-month-old baby to a normal cup without the use of a sippy cup. And no, I do not plan on stopping breastfeeding when we are together.***

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much, mamas!!! Excellent advise! I will be checking into straw-cups and training-cups for my precious liquid gold because the thought of losing a drop would break my heart! I also plan on continuing to teach her to drink from cups at every meal and throughout the day with water.

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answers from Salinas on

No bottles for my kids but the sippy or straw cups were perfect for that "in between" time. I was SAHM so I didn't put breast milk in them but they drank water from them at that age.

As others have mentioned, a baby will spill again and again. Do you really want breast milk all over? What's wrong with a sippy cup for a few months?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think they did before bottles were invented?
Seriously, not to be snarky--but there weren't always bottles, right?

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Pittsburgh on

My question to you: do you want your sitter to spend all day cleaning up spilled milk instead of eating and playing? Because I can imagine a 10 month old spilling what's in her cup again and again - sometimes by mistake, and sometimes on purpose.

I did a sippy at the age of your child, and moved to an open cup just before age 2.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

Sure, it's possible. It's also very likely that spills will be frequent and you'll lose some of that precious liquid gold. Go look for training cups if you're anti-sippy cup, they have lids with little holes around the rim to slow down the spills while teaching them to regulate the flow. In our case, my son wouldn't take milk in a cup (sippy or not), he only wanted it straight from the source. You might give it a try before you will be gone so you can see just what will work (or won't) for her.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

No, they not only don't have the manual dexterity they'd simply turn it upside down and waste it. They also don't have the cognitive ability to do more than see the cup and try to manipulate it to their mouths. At this age they're doing well to hold a bottle.

Find a tippy/sippy cup that you can stand and use them. Buy a dozen of them. We found we liked the ones with the oval insert instead of the ones that had the long narrow insert.

The oval ones were much easier to clean inside, a Q-Tip did wonders and we always soaked them in mild bleach water before washing them.

So no, you're going to waste all your breast milk while your thirsty baby finger paints and plays in it.

I would not transition that baby to a bottle, no way.

AND before there were bottles the mom's breastfed until baby was weaned and that was much older than 10 months. If the mom couldn't make milk there was usually some other woman in the area that would take on feeding the baby and helping out. Or the mom made a bottle from a glass bottle and put a finger from a glove or something over the end of it.

Here is a link to show that there WERE baby bottles in early history. The one is the picture could be from the 1300's BCE, that's the OTHER side of the zero that marks common era, or AD.

But I got it, that you want to take your little infant and hand them of cup of your breast milk and then hold it to their mouth and suck it in and not spill it or tip it over.

That's not a likely scenario. I understand you have to go back to work but please, have some compassion for your care giver. They are not going to want to spend the day cleaning up spilled milk then not having anything to give to your child to eat. Your baby needs to be using a tippy cup now so she can get used to it without the stress of mom leaving her with someone else.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I haven't met or seen one baby yet that successfully went from breast to a regular cup at 10 months. They don't have the cognitive development yet to tackle that task, nor motor skills.

I always went from breast to sippy cup. It worked so well. The cup turns into a toy and who wants to constantly be saying, "!" to a child as they are exploring this new device. A regular cup would get knocked over by accident and on purpose. You don't want to lose your precious breast milk and then leave the daycare provider with nothing else to offer baby.

Sippy cups are so helpful when others are in charge of watching baby. Sippy cups are great in the car or at other people's homes when a milk mess is the last thing you want to happen. They are also very easy to keep clean.

What is your aversion to sippy cups??

We used the Tupperware sippy cups that then transitioned great into a regular cup. They come in a pack of various colors...each of our kids had a color. Heck..we still have some of them in our cupboard..and we are YEARS past that phase. Sooo, a wise investment as well.

Good luck with whatever cup you choose...and the transition back to work!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Personally I wouldn't do it. I like a clean house and kids drink a lot at that age. I just see lots of spills and a sippy cup prevents messes. My kids never took bottles, they went from breast to sippy cup. Who's watching your kiddo while you are at work? Are they up for all the extra work?

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answers from New York on

Sure you can but there will be lots and lots of spilled milk. Do you really want to see it go to waste. At 10 months they just do not have to ability to control how much to lift cup.

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answers from Albuquerque on

Sure... that's the way it's done in most of the world. Seriously, many many children (even in the US) don't ever drink from a bottle. You may find that some of the very basic sippy cups are ok -- the kind without any flow regulator, because your 10 month old will be able to hold it up him/herself without risk of major spilling. If you have someone coming in to watch your baby, just make sure you teach her how to hold the cup and let the baby drink slowly.

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answers from Houston on

Sure you can do it, but if it were me I would not want any breast milk spilled. Not because of the mess but because of the work that goes into it you know... Advent makes a cup that toddlers drink from like a regular cup but prevents an too much spill. I have only seen them at Walmart. What about a straw cup? Or a thermos straw cup? My kids and I take a camelbak bottle for water everyday and my oldest is in first grade. I am sure she can learn to drink from those:)

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answers from New York on

A good way of introducing a cup is to offer clean water in a cup during a bath. That way if there are any spills, no clean up.

F. B.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

I did it to sippy cup........
My first child, son, was BF till about 10.5 months. He got sick and for whatever reason started to show signs that he was done BF, so I went with it and just started putting formula in his sippy cup for about a month, then switched that to milk. Now, all that being said, I started him with a sippy cup of water from about age 6mo. Mostly he would just play with it, but around 9mo, actually started drinking from it during meal times. So I knew that he already knew how to use one - less of a huge transition for us............

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answers from San Francisco on

Sure it's possible. Your baby won't die without the breast, though because infants this age usually still have a strong need to suck I don't know how pleasant or easy it will be. My son never took a bottle or paci, and started using a small real cup around 12 months. But he also kept nursing here and there, mostly at nap, night and morning time. He wasn't fully weaned until about 22 months.
If you're going to cut her off cold turkey you'd better start doing it NOW well before you return to work. Otherwise you both will be miserable.
Also be aware that not all babies will take breast milk out of a cup (or even a bottle) especially at that age. So you really need to think about her health and nutrition as well. I hope you continue to BF at least in the mornings and evenings until she is at least a year old.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You can - and should - definitely skip the bottle. I'm not sure if you mean a regular cup without a lid, or a cup with a lid but no valve. In any case, you can teach a 10 month old to drink out of whatever cup you give her. Most will have some kind of drip/spillage if they don't have the valve (and even with they may drip a little). Babies this age can use a straw cup or a water bottle with a straw, they will just leak a little more.

She is highly likely to knock it over and often throw it to the floor just for fun. So, whatever cup you choose, make sure it's very sturdy. I have a stainless steel Kleen Kanteen bottle for my son and he drops it all the time so the bottom is all bent out of shape and the whole cup wobbles now (and he's six years old!).

Does she ever drink water? What do you use for that? Don't be surprised at all if she refuses the breast milk from a cup. A lot of babies refuse to take breast milk from anything other than the breast, especially one as old (if you can consider her old in any way) as your daughter. The good news is, she won't starve, as I assume she eats solids throughout the day. My son was happy to take breast milk in a bottle, my daughter always refused it from a bottle or cup.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Peronally, I found sippies to be a Godsend, as I have very active kids who also like to drink ... alot! Oh the messes they would have made ...

Many parents will restrict drinks to the kitchen, and we do more now that they are older. We let them have straw cups now, but I digress.

Have you considered a straw cup? Some young ones respond to them better. Not sure if it's because they still have to suck or not. With a straw cup you really have two options. The first is actually very much like a sippy cup:

There are lots of varieties, and I know Playtex and Munckin make them. Probably others.

Another staw option would be a smaller version of what many adults (includeing me, because I am very prone to spilling things) use:

I bought several of these at Old Navy for $3 or $4. Ours do not have characters on them. They are about 8 or 9 ounces, and my boys (5 and 7 1/2) use these most of the time. They are both perfectly capable of drinking out of a regular cup and have been for years, but I just really like the straw cups. Love the fact that when spills happen they are minimized.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Sure I think I would not want my breast milk spilled though as Momma F said it - pumping was so much work, I never ever wanted a single drop wasted!

My son never really did bottles, he naturally weaned just before a year and he went to a cup. I think he did some sippy cups and some regular cups. Peds usually recommend the sippy cups with a straw to transition to regular cups and to help with speech development as opposed to essentially a sippy cup that is a bottle.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

My kids never DID take a bottle... when they were young, it was mama or nothing! (I tried several different things...... breast milk and formula... no luck.)

When they were 7-8 months or so, I started them with sippy cups with water or diluted juice.... but their primary source of fluid was from me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

That's what my mom did with all of her children...

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answers from Chattanooga on

When I did it with my daughter, I started by just putting a tiny bit of milk (like,1-2 swallows worth.) in the cup and helping her drink it. Once she got used to the motion and the idea, I would let her attempt it on her own. Lots of spills and messes at first! Lol.

By the time she was a year old, she was drinking out of a cup by herself just fine. The only time she spilled was when she got excited or wasn't paying attention and knocked her cup over.

Though we DID have sippy cups too... I liked the kind with the straw. We used them for car rides, public outings, and an all-day accessible drink after she weaned from the breast.



answers from Minneapolis on

We used the cups with the lids and small spouts but no valves. My daughter hated the valves that required sucking really hard. The lids didn't prevent spills but slowed them down considerably.



answers from Chicago on

Yes, skip the bottle. And the sippy cup. I use old fashion tupperware cups, they have little sippy lids I keep on for a few weeks, and then I take them off. like these:

I find we then only do the "sippy" for a few weeks. it also dumps if you put it upside down, so it teaches them about cups. it's just easier to have the lid on while they l earn how to hold the cup by themselves.

Hmm 10 months. I think Gamma G may be right. There will be a lot of turning it upside down at that age. You could try, though. Try the tupperware cups. You won't lose as much liquid gold, and when it's obvious baby can do it without dumping, you then take the lid off.


answers from Washington DC on

well, of course. babies learn to do whatever it is we do with them.
many moms find the sippy cups are less messy while the babies are figuring it out. but it's not like babies are genetically programmed to use them.



answers from Pittsburgh on

We never used sippy cups with my son. He was bottle fed and we started adding a cup for water at 8-9 months (that is when his daycare started using cups in the infant room - yes they are developmentally ready by 10 months). We just put a small amount of liquid in the cup and refilled as needed. Yes, he had a lot of spills initially. But how hard is that to clean up from the high chair when you are already cleaning up food (much grosser IMO)? I saw no reason to teach them to disregard gravity with sippy cups and then have to teach them all over again. After all - shouldn't what they learn while exploring their environment be that when you turn liquid upside down it spills?

We are also not one of those families with children running around with sippy cups all over the place. The cup was (and is ) used at the table. For water (we didn't do juice at all) and for milk once he was a year old.

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