Written by Rathnavalli Pradeep
Feeding is extremely crucial in the initial years of a baby’s life. Different methods of feeding the baby are breastfeeding, formula milk, expressing breast milk, bottle-feed, and even cup feeding. Cup feeding for babies, as indicative of the name, is a method by which babies can be fed milk through a cup. It is appropriate for young babies, as it is an excellent way to feed them when they cannot be breastfed.
Though cup feeding a baby is not a very common type of feeding, yet it is a very effective method of feeding. This method comes into use either for babies who are premature or in cases where the mother cannot breastfeed. This method is very old and has been in use for many years now.
Cup feeding is suitable for all babies, yet doctors recommend it only where breastfeeding is not an option. Certain situations where doctors recommend cup feeding for the babies are:
Feeding the baby through a cup or bottle can be the same. Yet advantages give an upper hand to cup feed over breastfeeding
One of the major benefits of cup feeding is that the baby will not have nipple confusion. Bottle-fed babies suck through the nipples, which are easier than the breast nipples. This creates confusion and even makes the baby reluctant to latch on to the breast if required.
A baby being fed with a bottle can face teeth and jaw development issues. Since the milk sucking process of the bottle and the breast differ from each other, it leads to bad performance of functions like eating, breathing, speech, etc. Cup feeding however has no such issues that can hamper the oral development of the infant.
When babies start the process of teething, they gnaw on whatever they can reach, and the nipples of the milk bottle is one such thing. In this process, they can end up biting a small piece of the nipple, which is harmful and can even result in choking. Bottle feeding also leads to tooth decay. Whereas, cup feeding has no such issues.
Cup feeding needs more effort for the baby to be fed. During the feeding process, the cup has to be close to the mouth of the infant and in a tilted position so that milk can touch the lips and the baby can take it to his mouth. This process prevents the dripping of milk as well. The baby stops taking milk when not hungry. So no one can overfeed, as the baby clearly indicates fullness by refusing to drink more milk.
After the babies grow up and start using a cup, cup feeding in the initial days helps them as they can drink it without much effort compared to other babies who have not been cup fed.
When the infant has to be cup fed, there is no hassle of buying expensive bottles and sterilizers. Cups can be of any size or material. Moreover, they are portable, easy to clean.
Cup feeding may have many benefits but still its limitations that cannot be overlooked.
Healthcare experts teach the process of cup feeding a baby with the help of demonstrations. It is important to consult a healthcare professional in case of any confusion while cup feeding. It is also important to be sure that the baby is not asleep, is in an alert and upright position while being fed. Doctors also advise never to feed a baby when it is lying flat on its back.
The correct process to cup feed a baby is given as under:
Apart from cup feeding, some alternative methods of feeding an infant are:
When used the right way, cup feeding is an effective way to feed a newborn baby if breastfeeding is not an option. Always take the advice of your doctor or a lactation consultant before introducing cup feeding for your infant.
Cup feeding is safe right from the time the baby is born, and can be used for both the mother’s milk and the formula. Any open cup having a smooth surface can be used to feed.
The babies can easily learn to use a cup by the time they are 6 months to a year. The time is appropriate when the baby can sit upright without support. Also, encourage the baby to use a cup rather than a bottle, reducing his feeding time as well.
The baby gets formula in the sippy cups. This transition from a normal to a sippy cup can happen by the time the baby is 6 months old. Usage of sippy cups also leads to better oral hygiene and prevents speech issues as well.
The dentists recommend using sippy cups or no-spill cups for the babies. Using open cups or beakers is preferred. It is natural for a baby to spill the drink. Still, these are the best options for your little one.
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