I must admit that my one major reality TV splurge is Supernanny- I love the show, and I agree with 99% of Nanny Jo's child rearing principles. One of the common issues is having to take bottles away from toddlers and sippy cups away from young kids. Goodness, everything seems to get more difficult when the kids have learned how to push your buttons with tantrums and whining!
So, when my pediatrician told me, at G's 9 month checkup, that we should phase out the bottle by 12 months old without using sippy cups, it sounded like a great idea. Then, over the next 3 months, reality seemed to set in. At 12 months, we were using cups much more frequently, but my son was still having 36 oz of formula each day! That is a lot of mess and spills if bottles and sippies are not in the picture. I decided that I loved the idea behind early removal of bottles, but it would have to wait until he was eating more food and drinking formula a great deal less.
At our 12 month check up, the pediatrician asked about the bottle issue. I admitted that we still gave bottles before naps and before bed, and maybe another one during the day. He reiterated the benefits of getting rid of bottles and sippies quickly, but then he offered the key: straws. Why didn't he stress this months ago? It took 2 days to teach G to use a straw, and he only fussed for a few days when we replaced all bottles with straws and cups. No tantrums at all, mind you- just a bit of fussiness!
Along the same lines, we also greatly reduced the formula in his diet- the pediatrician recommended 10 oz each day, but he gets closer to 18 oz. We had to be a lot more imaginative with the food we offered him, but even that part of the transition was not difficult. He does eat practically every hour he is awake, but I'd rather he continue to listen to his body's hunger cues rather than the less healthy clean-your-plate and eat-on-schedule patterns mom and dad learned.
While I took the pediatrician's advice because I trust his opinion and experience, I did ask questions and do research on my own. My pediatrician gives the bottle weaning and no-sippy-cup advice for a few reasons: it is easier to phase a 12 month old off of the bottle than an older child; the child won't carry around the bottle, drinking all day which is bad for the teeth; and sippy cups are just one more thing you need to wean the kids from eventually with no added benefit compared to straw cups.
The minimal research I did online about sippy cups links them to poor linguistic development. Here are a few references:
Mommy Speech Therapy
A Boston News Station's Summary
Tons more information, too- just google 'sippy cup and language'.