Do I Have to Give up Breastfeeding in Order for Him to Use a Cup?!!

Updated on April 09, 2008
J.R. asks from Miami, FL
20 answers

I am nursing my 12 month old son but also want him to start drinking from a cup. I know he CAN drink from the sippy cup, but he refuses. The ped thinks I would have to eliminate nursing altogether, but I really hate to do it that way. With my other 2 kids, once they started drinking a sippy cup, I gradually cut out the nursing sessions until they lost interest. This baby refuses! He refused to drink from a bottle when he was younger and now he refuses to drink from the sippy cup. I really would like to start reducing the number of times I nurse him each day, but worry about him getting enough water/liquid. (He is eating baby food and regular food, BTW) Thanks for any advice!

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone for your support! I feel so much better. I am going to still offer the cup to him, but continue to breastfeed and just know that one day he'll be drinking from a cup. I did not want to stop nursing so I'm glad to hear others support that decision for me!!!!! This place is great.

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W.R.

answers from San Juan on

Hi J.

Please, as long as you can DO NOT give up the breastfeeding. I fed my baby (now 14 yrs old) till he was 4 1/2. He used to eat about everything, but he kept taking my breastfeeding. He never drank from a bottle. Just try some juices, little amounts of some liquid he likes. Try doing it as a game, like, let's see who finishes first, you or mom. Try it using a straw. But do not worry about that because whenever he feels thirsty and mom is not there, he will drink from a cup. Now he does not do it, because mom is there to feed him, that's all.

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L.M.

answers from Boca Raton on

have you tried some fun looking cups or straws, my son loved drinking from a straw. Good luck! www.DiscoveryToysLink.com/LisaRyan L.

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L.W.

answers from Miami on

I think your pediatrician is being... I'm not sure what the word is I'm looking for. They seem to rush to get you to do things and it's irritating. Keep offering the cup but if he doesn't take it, it's not the end of the world. Just keep trying and after awhile offer the cup and nothing else, no matter what (when you are ready). Some kids take awhile, but I have never seen a child yet that didn't make the switch at some point. I agree with other suggestions too that you can put your milk in the cup and offer it and also try the ones with the straws. Two of my kids liked that kind. I breastfed all of mine.

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K.A.

answers from Port St. Lucie on

It is so easy for others to say to give up nursing. It is a cultural thing to expect our kids to react/behave a certain way when it comes to nursing and food.

IMO - follow your baby's lead. He knows what he wants and what his body needs. My 9 mo old who is also eating solids generally nurses about 4-5 times during the day and once at night. If your son is nursing much more frequently, my question would be- are you letting him nurse until he is satisfied? Or are you timing the feeding, stopping when you think he "should" be finished?

If you are timing, my suggestion would be to offer only one side per feeding, but allow him to decide when he's thru. That way you can be sure he's no longer hungry/thirsty but also possibly give yourself a break.

My kids only drink water, and both prefer sippy cups without the no-spill tops. This may also help him transition. It is also helpful to remember that bf babies physiologically know what their bodies need. He may be nursing and refusing cups simply b/c his body requires the extra immune boosting that only breastmilk can provide.

Good luck,
K

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C.B.

answers from New York on

No, you don't need to give up breastfeeding just to get baby to use a cup. I breastfed my first daugther until she self weaned at 19 months; I introduced a sippy cup at 4 months and by 6 months, she could drink from it. I also breastfed my second daughter well past her third birthday and she too, took a sippy cup by her 6th month. I could not breastfeed my third child so I had no choice but to bottle feed him but by 11 months I transitioned him to a sippy spout. Can you pump? I would suggest to try pumping, put some breastmilk in his sippy cup...just to get him interested and make the transition to whole milk. Once he takes to the whole milk, see if you can eliminate a nursing session that way. If all else fails, contact Le Leche League in your area. Don't listen to your ped. It sounds like he/she doesn't support breastfeeding at all. Don't stop nursing. Always wean with love and the transition will be easier for you and your baby.

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J.K.

answers from Boca Raton on

Your baby may not be ready for a sippy cup yet. Maybe if you continue to offer it, without pushing it on him, eventually he will use it. Also have your 5 and 8 year olds use one to "show" your baby how. Plus they love to imitate their siblings. If you are nursing, he is getting plenty of water/liquid and the best source of it too. Here are some suggestions on how to try and get your child to use the cup:

What should I do if my child refuses the sippy cup?
Babies have all kinds of reasons for rejecting sippy cups. And of course, there's no law saying he ever has to use one. Some babies graduate from breast or bottle straight to a regular cup. If you'd rather your baby learn to use a sippy, though — for convenience, or because you think it'll make a good transition for him — moms have used these tactics successfully:
• Dip the tip of the sippy spout into the milk or juice and then give it to your baby. He may just need a hint!

• Show your baby that the spout is like a nipple (it needs to be sucked on). Try touching the tip of the spout to the roof of his mouth to stimulate his sucking reflex.

• If he drinks from a bottle, give him half of his formula in the bottle. When it's empty, switch to the sippy cup for the second half of the feeding (continue to hold him as for bottle-feeding). Or put a bottle nipple (without the bottle) in his mouth and after he starts sucking, replace it with the sippy spout. Some moms have even had success telling their baby it's time for the "ba-ba" — and simply substituting the sippy for the bottle.

• If your baby sucks on the sippy spout but doesn't get anything, try taking out the valve that controls the flow (if his sippy cup has one of these and it's removable). It'll be messy at first, but once he learns to handle the cup you can put the valve back in and he'll probably be willing to suck harder for his drink. Or make an extra slit in the valve to allow the liquid to flow more easily.

• Work backward. Teach your baby to drink from the sippy without the lid first. Put just a teaspoon or two of liquid in at a time and help him raise the cup to his mouth. After he gets the hang of that (and sees that there's liquid inside the cup), then put the lid on (without the valve, if there is one). Finally, put the valve in and let him take over.

• Offer your baby a straw. Some baby cups come with built-in straws, and some babies find these easier to use than a spout (though others will look at you, clueless). If your baby does get the hang of sucking from a straw, he may then be better able to handle sucking from the spout.

• Switch beverages. Some babies will drink water or juice — but not breast milk or formula — from a sippy. Sometimes it's a matter of association (milk belongs in a bottle or breast). Some moms have had success waiting to introduce the sippy cup until their baby is ready to start drinking whole milk (at age 1).

• Show him how. Get yourself a sippy and let your baby see you drink from it. Or have a sibling drink from a sippy in front of the baby. Sometimes all it takes is a little sucking noise (make it when you give him the cup) to inspire a baby to start sucking. One mom sat down with her cup of water and her baby's sippy cup of water. She drank from her cup, then helped her baby drink from her cup. Then she drank from the sippy and offered it to the baby for his turn — and voila.

• Shop around. There are all kinds of sippy cups, with all kinds of spouts. There are even bottles that transition from a regular bottle to a bottle with handles to a sippy cup with a lid and straw to a regular toddler cup. Sippy cups aren't too expensive, so it's worth letting your baby test-drive several if the one in hand isn't working. (And as he grows to toddlerhood, you might let him pick out a brand-new kind himself, just for fun.)

Good luck.

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S.H.

answers from Melbourne on

One of the mom's in my 13-month old's play group had this issue. The parent educator suggested having the dad first introduce the cup when mom is not around. Obviously baby can't breastfeed from dad which can eliminate the "want" for nursing from mom and it might get him started on the sippy cup.

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A.W.

answers from Miami on

I don't see why a doctor would tell you that. I can't see how it would be a problem.

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A.F.

answers from Miami on

How about a special big boy cup.... that you use when you are out with him. If he isn't sick, then there's no big deal if he stays a little thirsty while you are out running errands (of course, I'm assuming common sense, and not staying out all day in hot weather)
One of my favorite tricks when I had little ones, was to carry a small pair of folding scissors with me, to cut off the extra length of straws: when they start using them, the straws stick up so high that the child always ends up tipping the cup over to get to the straw...and soda or milk would end up spilled. if the straw is cut down, they don't have to do that.

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K.M.

answers from Miami on

My daughter refused bottles too. She could never get the hang of regular sippy cups. But, she did fantastic with a straw sippy, specifically the Nuby one. So I'd second the recommendation of trying a straw cup. I definitely would not cut him off cold turkey. I see your concern about him getting enough liquid, but if you gradually cut back your nursing sessions if weaning is what you want to do, he might be more interested in trying a cup. You said he knows how to use one, so that at least wouldn't be a problem. Baby food is pretty watery and you could give him more fruits and vegetables too since those have a higher water content. You could also offer soup. Maybe you could get him in the habit of drinking from the cup if you offer something appealing? Would he drink expressed breastmilk or vanilla soymilk (supposedly tastes similar to BM) or fruit smoothies? Maybe juice diluted with water? Good luck and I hope you find something that works.

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Y.S.

answers from Miami on

I am so glad to read you will continue nursing, it is the best for your child.

I am still nursing my 17 month old and plan on continuing until he self weans.

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S.G.

answers from Boca Raton on

My youngest of 3 was like that as well.
I think the youngest gets the least alone time with us and there is always more commotion around, so they cling to the nursing for solace.
Although I had to push her to reduce her desire for me, she continued to nurse less and less frequently till she was more than 2. Lazy pediatricians who never nursed or watched their wives nurse give that answer because they have no others. Moms who have nursed and lactation consultants and LaLeche Leaguers will always have a zillion alternative ideas.
Here are some of mine:
I suggest trying several different styles of sippy cups and water bottles and putting something a little sweeter and more colorful than you usually let him have and make a game out of choosing his favorite. Or let him pick one at a store that has several options and make a fuss over his new cup. Some of the sippy spouts are simply too easy for a baby whose mouth has had to really work hard for the milk to come. This can flood their mouths and give a choking feeling. It is better for nursing babies if they really have to suckle a little.
Then the other side of it is making the boobs less available. Whereas my older girls never did this, my youngest would really pull on my clothes and try to untuck my shirts. But when I really wanted her to nurse less, I stopped wearing anything with easy access and I sometimes just wouldn't sit down But that can feel very mean, especially if he is clinging to the nursing because it is his time with you. The ideal is to get them to drink the cup in your lap and be distracted enough. Does he have a favorite video or tv show? It's hard to nurse and watch. So if you made a point of offering the cup, while he is in your lap, in front of the tv, that might help him to accept it!
all the best!

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S.R.

answers from Boca Raton on

Hi J.,
I also have three children. I breast fed them all. My first two took the cup no problem. My third one who is currently 14 mos and still nursing did not want it at first. Like you I needed a break. I offered her a straw as a last resort. It worked like a charm. She loved to drink from a straw like her big brothers. She got very excited to drink from a juice box. I gave her the motts for tots because it is mixed with water. I also gave her water in a cup with a straw. Milk is still a problem for her but I think she eats enough yogurt and cheese. She now takes some sippy cups. I had to try a bunch. She likes the born free one with a soft top. She also likes to drink those stonyfield farms yogurt drinks with a straw. I hope this helps. I know they are all so different.
S.

p.s. Even Dr's say silly things sometimes.

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J.R.

answers from Miami on

My son just turned one. And he never took a bottle. They only way we got him to take a sippy was with water inside. I tried to use EBM and he would not take it. What I did was with each meal I would offer him the sippy of water. That has helped reduced the number of times he nurses during the day. But now he nurses non [email protected]____.com I am trying to get him to nurse a little more during the day but he asked for his water when I offer him the breast.

S.C.

answers from Miami on

Each child is difference and don't take that away from him. If he does not want to use a cup then don't make him if you still want to nurse. Just continue to Nurse. This is confusing for him for whatever reason. Otherwise, put your breast milk in the sippy cup instead and just refuse to nurse him! He will still be getting the nutrition you want him to get, while breaking the cycle of him being dependant on you for his food. It's obvious you have made the connection with your son for the other reason of nursing...so, THIS IS YOUR CHOICE and it really is not a hard one. Go with the flow because as these 3 kids begin to grow and go thru puberty....You ain't seen nothing yet :-) This is the easy stuff for sure! I am 49 with a 26 yr and a 13yr old.

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L.H.

answers from Miami on

with both of my boys I nursed them until 15 months. but they always had a cup of water out & about available to them throughout the day. not milk, not juice but water.
try a straw cup like the Nuby flip top or try those take & toss cups (I reuse them- I wash them in the top rack ofthe dishwasher).
try putting a ice cube in the water & shake & make it fun and sing about it...

when you're out at a restaurant, or even at home, drink from a straw and use your finger to draw up some of the water into the straw, then put the straw in his mouth & let go of your finger- he'll get the idea of a straw...
HTH (hope this helps)

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R.A.

answers from Boca Raton on

that is riduculous, drs love to push formula as they want medical intervention for everything. Your child is doing things at his own pace. He will sip from a cup when he's ready. You should nurse till he's ready to stop. The WHO says until 6 is healthy. so few ppl nurse it's a shame, thos who do sometimes nurse for 3 months, maybe till a year. It's so healthy, builds a strong immune system, self confidence, etc. It's un natural for us to give our children the breast milk of a cow meant for it's baby rather than the milk we produce for OUR offspring. Don't worry the breast milk is giving him everything he needs including the right amount of liquid.

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T.U.

answers from Miami on

My son wouldn't use a sippy cup or bottle either. The only sippy cup he would use were the ones with straws. Have you tried those?

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S.B.

answers from Melbourne on

Dear J.,

I understand you wanting your baby to drink from a cup. But breastfeeding is so valuable, that I encourage you to keep it up.

I nursed my first for 14 months and my second for 4 years. I have no regrets.

There is no substitute for breast milk.

The cup drinking will happen before you know it.

S.

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A.C.

answers from Boca Raton on

Hi J.. I went through the same issue with my daughter. I nursed her for so long w/o a bottle, that she never took to an artificial nipple. When it was time to move to sippy cups she also would just kind of roll the mouthpiece in her mouth, and not drink. I actually started to introduce a straw to her..and what happened..it worked. She was 8 months old and drinking water with a straw. I started by capping the end w/ my finger, collecting the water in the straw, and letting it go easily into her mouth, and in that first session she got how to use the straw. Later I also purchased a "sippy" cup from whole foods called "born free" and it is the only sippy she ever used. It is a different technology where children don't have to suck so hard to get a drink ( and by the way, regular sippy cups, with their need to suck hard, have been associated with ear infections). She happily took both the breast, straw, and born free cup. Nothing else ever worked. hopefully these might work for you too!
A. C. :)

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