Our Sippy Saga: The Challenge of Kicking Sippy Cups to the Curb

When I analyze the situation I’m in now, I realize it all began when my girlfriends let me down. Not the girlfriends I call for advice, support, and the enjoyable consumption of adult beverages, but “the girls” in my life who were supposed to be pert, perky, and ready to produce milk when I became a mom. When I got pregnant, those girls were supposed to jump into action and help feed my baby. But for whatever reason, my milk never came in.

It didn’t bother me because I felt like less of a mom, it bothered me because that’s what I was prepared for: supplies ready, awesome milking machine (yeah, yeah, you call it a breast pump, but let’s just be real and admit what it feels like when you’re tethered to one of those things) and all of its accessories purchased, including one of those ultra-sexy, hands-free pumping bras. I was ready to go. I hadn’t researched formulas or different types of bottles and nipples because, darn it, that’s what the girls were destined for, right?

But that wasn’t meant to be. My girls let me down, and I needed an answer fast: formula, bottles, and nipples, pronto. So I did what we all do when we join the mommy club: ask a few mom friends, grab what worked for them, and get back on track! Wrong. Turns out that some bottles gave Little gas, some formulas gave him what could only be described as full-on nuclear waste in his diaper. Seriously. But that’s another post and, really, no one wants to relive that.

Turns out there are only so many formulas out there and, thankfully, we landed on one that didn’t cause us to flee in horror when it came out the other end. But the delivery device—that’s another story. High-end, low-end, glass, or plastic—name a bottle brand, and we desperately tried it. My kitchen counter looked like someone had knocked over the bottle wall at Babies”R”Us. We finally found one that he liked. No bells and whistles, no European name or nipple that was supposed to look/feel like mom’s. (To the marketers who thought up that line for nipple/bottle packaging, know that I loathe you. Since I was trying in vain to breast feed, employing every remedy I heard of and pumping like mad to produce less than an ounce a day, I bought that line—and your nipples—only to be disappointed again and again.)

So problem solved—we put all of it behind us and enjoyed sunny feeding days. Until Little was old enough to start chomping through the bottle nipples, and it was time to move on to a more advanced beverage container: the sippy cup. I innocently checked out the cup options and grabbed something that looked like it would fit the bill (holds milk, no spill). I presented it to Little only to be greeted by disdain and loathing.

You’d think we would have learned from the bottle challenge, but no. He was just as picky about his sippy cups as he’d been about his bottles.

Bottles weren’t the only problem we’d had in the oral department. In preparing for Little, I’d grabbed a package of pacifiers. The brand was one many people liked, and I thought I was smart for thinking ahead. And he took right to them. Victory! I might not know nipples, but I scored in the paci department!

Although we managed to not lose one or need a replacement, I decided that we should buy a few more. But they were not to be found. I stalked stores and searched online and found nothing. Turns out the fabulous pacis were being discontinued WHEN I BOUGHT THEM, and Little knew it. They no longer existed. No matter what other brand we tried, no matter how we attempted to doctor them to look like the preferred paci, he’d see through the ruse and discard them, always seeking out his originals. (I used a nail file to roughen up the handle of one candidate. I even melted off an offending part on another as this kid misses nothing—anything that was remotely different would be noticed and cause the immediate discard of the unauthentic paci.)

But I digress—back to the sippy challenge. Like the bottle battle, we tried everything. The only thing he would remotely entertain wasn’t really a cup but more of a gateway bottle. It had a softer spout, not hard plastic, but in my mind it was a step up and a step away from the bottle.

That is, until he routinely bit through those spouts just like he was biting through the bottle nipples. Some spouts only lasted a day, so my kitchen was a graveyard of sippy spouts that had given their all in battle, only to be bitten through and discarded like…well, like chewed-up bits of plastic. I should have bought stock in the company, as I’m sure that the sales uptick they saw at that time was due to my buying them in bulk. But he wouldn’t touch the hardened plastic ones, no matter how cool Mommy looked while she was drinking out of them.

I’m sure you’re wondering at this point, why didn’t she just thirst him out? Sooner or later, he’d cave and drink out of anything if he was desperate enough. Not this kid. He inherited a double-dose of stubborn, with a really strong shot of independence and a nice sprinkling of spite, and no matter what you throw his way, he’ll up the ante and outlast you. It can be an awesome thing to witness, until all 42 pounds of stubborn is dead-set against whatever it is you want him to do.

I did finally convince him that a bright blue cup covered in sea creatures—that just happened to have a hardened spout—was not evil, or poison, and could actually touch his lips. From there, we ventured to a solid blue cup. The green cup never gained acceptance into the inner milk circle but is now allowed to hold juice. (NOT milk, never milk, Little’s beverage of choice—another issue we could certainly discuss. By the way, did you know that drinking water can kill you? Little swears it’s true.)

And here we still are. Those same two cups, which really aren’t cups so much as bottles with spouts, are still with us. We’ve tried everything to no avail. Those sippys are like part of the family. When we’re on the playground or at group events, I longingly eye every water bottle I see other kids chugging from, taking mental notes on style and design. At school, I’ve inspected the water bottle bin a million times to find an option that he might consider.

We’ve tempted him with straws, sporty spouts, sports bottles, cool colors, and even cooler decorations (Dinosaurs! Sharks! Lightning McQueen!). We’ve resorted to using the lure of peer acceptance: “See, this one is just like what fill-in-the-blank-with-cool-classmate’s-name uses. Would you like to have one like him?” We’ve dabbled down the route of bribery, offering up any sugary beverage as long as he consumes it in whatever vessel we provide. No dice. (For the record, apple juice is the only sugary beverage he’ll try, and even that is a hard sell. At least I’m getting that part right.)

So along with new adventures and fun explorations, this is the summer of tackling the cup conundrum in our house. You see, it’s not just that he won’t drink out of anything else. He’s also straw-challenged. (Don’t ask me—how do you not get how to drink out of a straw if you’re used to sucking all of your liquids out of a spout?!?) What about sipping from a regular cup, you ask? I admire that simplicity, yet alas, Little won’t have it. I have visions of sending him off to college, sippy cup tucked into his backpack. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about him ever trying a beer bong.

But summer in San Antonio is long and hot. Maybe I CAN thirst him out. Or find another way to crack the cup code and lose the sippys forever. So if you happen to see me with a sippy cup in my mouth, don’t judge. I may just be enjoying an adult beverage to ease the pain of this battle. Help me end this saga: what’s worked to help your littles graduate to big kid drinking? Anyone have advice to help us kick the sippy habit for good?

An Army brat who came to Texas for college and ultimately managed to make the Lone Star State her permanent home, Dawn became a mom “AMA” (advanced maternal age), giving her the opportunity to use a stroller vs. a walker as she navigates the world of motherhood. Her growing up way too fast native Texan loves all things Star Wars, Legos, dinosaurs and keeping his parents on their toes. When she’s not busy parenting the original strong-willed child, Dawn runs Tale to Tell Communications, a San Antonio-based PR and marketing agency. An award-winning writer, Dawn also contributes to San Antonio Woman, Rio Magazine and Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She and her family enjoy exploring all that San Antonio has to offer, going on adventures and playing tourist together as much as possible. Favorite Restaurant: Clementine Favorite Landmark: The beauty of the River Walk, especially La Villita Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Celebrating anything and everything with color, music and food