Introducing a cup

From around six months, you can encourage your baby to start to drink cooled boiled water from a cup. 

It might take baby a little while to get the hang of it, and they may need a little support at first to help them control the cup.

Choose an open cup with a soft rim and handles which can make it easier to hold. An open cup is best, but if you choose to start with a training cup, choose a free-flow cup without a valve under the spout - this will help your baby learn to sip properly, and it’s better for their teeth.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Encourage baby to hold the open cup with two hands and bring it up to their mouth by themselves.
  • From the time your little one starts on solid foods, offer cooled boiled water from a cup regularly throughout the day. 
  • Check that the drinking water supply at your home is safe for young children. If baby is under 12 months of age, water should always be boiled and cooled before use.
  • If the weather is hot, formula-fed babies under 6 months of age might need to be offered cooled boiled water.
  • If you want to, you can start to offer expressed breastmilk (or formula) in a cup rather than a bottle. Start by replacing one bottle of milk with one cup of milk a day and build up from there.
  • Keep at it! Getting them to use a cup every day is the key.
  • Aim to have your baby off their bottle and using a cup by their first birthday.

A few benefits of using a cup are:

  • Bottles over 12 months are not a good habit - babies and toddlers who are allowed to sip milk out of a bottle all day are much more likely to get tooth decay.
  • Your baby is likely to drink less milk from a cup therefore encouraging more of an appetite for food, which is good because food is becoming a more important part of their diet.
  • Using a cup can help improve your baby’s hand-eye coordination.
  • Cups are the great time saver, they’re much quicker and easier to clean than bottles.

Recommended drinks:

Only give baby breast milk (or formula), and once they are eating first foods, cooled boiled water can also be offered. Full cream cow’s milk can be offered as a milk drink from 12 months onwards. Avoid sugar sweetened drinks and fruit juices as babies and toddlers don’t need these and they’re not good for their teeth.


The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.


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