Thursday, 12 March 2015
When should your baby start using a cup?
When is the right time to introduce your baby to using a cup? This is just one of the hundreds of questions facing parents today. It may not seem a core question like when to start introducing your baby to food, but it is an important one says The British Dietetic Association (BDA)
It is important to introduce a cup to your tot at the right time for their development as delayed timing introducing a cup, prolonged use of a baby's bottle, the incorrect style of cup and the inclusion of unsuitable drinks, can contribute to health issues in children and subsequent risk of non-communicable diseases in adult life.
Elaine Gardner, Public Health Nutrition Network specialist for the BDA, says: "There is a compelling case to introduce cups to infants at the appropriate age to combat tooth decay that occurs due to prolonged bottle use, especially if the child sleeps with a bottle. The inclusion of sugared drinks in bottles with frequent sipping from bottles during the day is also a risk factor for severe dental caries."
With this in mind, the BDA has released their recommendation to help parents know when the time is right to introduce a cup, the BDA says:
A cup can be introduced to a baby at around 5-6 months of age, once the baby can sit up and hold their head steady.
An open cup should fully replace a bottle at around 1 year of age.
The cup should be made of appropriate food safe plastic material, have two handles and preferably no lid.
A free-flow, lidded beaker is also suitable, but the lid should be removed to make an open cup as soon as the infant has learnt how to drink. Cups and beakers with non-drip valves are not suitable.
A small amount of water or milk (breast or formula) should be offered in a cup initially. From 1 year of age, full fat cows' milk can be offered. Milk and water are the best drinks for children.
Juice or squash are not required by babies, but if they are given they should be diluted 1 part pure juice to at least 10 parts water, given only at mealtimes and in an open cup.
For children over 1 year of age, flavoured milk and smoothies should also only be given with meals (not between meals) and from an open cup.
Other drinks (including squash, flavoured milks, smoothies and fizzy drinks) are not recommended for babies or toddlers. If these are given, they should be restricted to mealtimes, given in an open cup and squash should be very well diluted with at least 10 parts water.
The consumption of fizzy and/or sugary drinks should be minimised.
Tea, coffee and hot chocolate contain caffeine. Do not give these to babies or young children.
A lidded cup or bottle should not be given to babies to help them get to sleep.
A baby should never be left alone when drinking and they should always be sitting upright. Solid food (e.g. rusk or baby rice) should never be put into a cup or bottle.