A night time sippy cup is a cup that an infant or a toddler takes to bed with them. For us, we would give our toddler a sippy cup of water in her crib at night.
Why would we do this? Honestly, comfort for our toddler and comfort for us as parents. Even though I dislike admitting this, we would let her fall asleep with the bottle as an infant. As soon as you let this happen once, it just becomes a routine in an instant.
When she started to grow teeth and we saw the dentist for the first time around nine months, he told us that falling asleep with a bottle is a big no-no. I’m pretty sure we already knew this.
If your infant doesn’t swallow all of the milk, it can pool around the teeth and cause tooth decay. Not only that, pooling milk can have a negative effect on a baby’s gums.
We stopped the nighttime bottle and weaned off the bottle entirely around one year old. At some point, we started giving our toddler a sippy cup of water to go to bed with. In my mind, water was okay because it couldn’t potentially hurt her teeth.
I can’t even tell you when this started happening. It was gradual and probably in response to her crying when we laid her down in the crib. Anyway, it became part of the night time ritual to give her the sippy cup of water.
Problems with night time sippy cup
Eventually, I started to see problems develop by giving my daughter a sippy cup at night. When I was trying to work around those problems, I realized the real issue was the night time sippy cup.
Overjustifying our decision
Do you ever realize that you are over justifying something so that you don’t have to make a change? This was me. My brain was realizing it was happening, but I just kept telling myself that it was okay.
My reasoning went something like this. When I sleep at night, I always have a cup of water at my bedside because I wake up parched sometimes. It’s a nice thing to have so that I don’t need to walk to the kitchen. My daughter needs the same if she wakes up and needs a drink.
This was a stretch because my daughter is a healthy drinker and gets plenty of fluids during the day. She has plenty of wet diapers. Also, she rarely wakes up at night. She really did not need water during the night.
So why were we continuing to let her fall asleep with the sippy cup? For our comfort and so we didn’t have to deal with the discomfort of her learning self-soothing techniques, which may include crying.
Soaked diapers in the morning
As my toddler started to get older, I was noticing more soaked diapers in the morning. Then, it progressed to soaking through the diaper, onto her pajamas, and onto the crib sheets. I was starting to wash her bedding pretty often for someone who was not potty training and still in diapers.
Even when I reduced the amount of water in her cup by half, she was still leaking through her diapers at night. I even bought night-time diapers, which helped, but I knew that wasn’t a long-term solution. When I started to look into buying Sposies, night-time pads that go inside diapers at night, it just felt like too much.
Night time sippy cup as a self-soothing aid
My toddler would fully expect the sippy cup at night. When I would lay her down in the crib, she would reach her hands out in anticipation of the cup. If I happened to forget it, she would immediately know and start whining or crying for it.
It became obvious that she was using the sippy cup as a self-soothing aid to fall asleep. We would sometimes hear her slurping on the cup over the monitor even when the water was all gone. She would also chew on the spout to the point where the spout had teeth marks on it. At that point, it was now a dental health concern.
Potty training on the horizon
My daughter isn’t currently showing signs of potty training yet but we know it’ll happen soon, probably before we know it. I began to worry that soaking through her diapers on a regular basis would affect her success in potty training.
Weaning off night time sippy cup
At eighteen months, I decided to wean my daughter off the night time sippy cup. With potty training on the horizon at two years old, I didn’t want the night time sippy cup to be more of a problem.
Also, after each passing month, I noticed she was more strong-willed and set in her routine as a toddler. I knew it would be challenging to wean her now, but it would be even more challenging at two years old.
Our approach was to just stop giving it to her, no matter how hard it would be. We didn’t plan anything out or set a date in advance as we did with weaning off the bottle. I knew it needed to happen, so I just did it. Here is how it played out.
This was by far the most challenging night. If you can get through this first night without giving in, then you will most definitely succeed.
At eighteen months, my toddler didn’t understand an explanation that the cup wasn’t going into the crib with her. When we turned off the light and walked out of the room, she immediately knew it was missing.
She was so angry and started crying and screaming. She did not let up at all. After approximately ten minutes, I went into her room, took her out of the crib, and let her drink some water while I rocked her.
I made it clear through my actions that the cup was not going back into the crib with her. Once back in the crib, she cried off and on for another thirty minutes (but not as bad as the initial screaming) before falling asleep and slept through the night.
There were times during the first night that I wanted to give in. It would be so much easier to just give her the sippy cup. But how would we ever resolve all these issues? So, I kept pushing through and telling myself that this would be good for all of us.
The second night was much easier than the first night. I decided to change up the bedtime routine a bit. To give her the opportunity to drink water before she goes to bed in case she is actually thirsty, I offered her a sippy cup of water while we read books.
Before putting her in the crib, I let her know that the sippy cup was not going in with her. She cried off and on for about twenty minutes before falling asleep, but not as angrily as the first night. I didn’t feel the need to go in her room at any point this night.
The crying and whining lessened every single night until there was no crying at all on night five. I noticed that she readily took sips of the water while we read bedtime books. Around night five, she handed it back to me and said “All done!”.
Nearing the end of the transition was such a relief because the first couple of nights were hard. Parenting can be tough sometimes but I’m glad that we made it.
Happy toddler and happy parents
If you’re thinking about weaning your toddler off the night time sippy cup, I highly recommend it. There’s no need for a toddler to have a sippy cup in the crib, especially if they have plenty of wet diapers throughout the day.
After one week, my daughter seems settled with this new bedtime routine. I no longer have to buy overnight diapers and she doesn’t soak through her pajamas anymore. I can look forward to the prospect of potty training without this issue weighing on my mind.