A great skill to teach your baby!
Babies are capable of learning this transition to straw cup in the infant years… so let’s discuss it!
A straw cup and open cup are preferred for the way the lips and muscles in the mouth wrap around the straw and rim of an open cup. This oral muscle development can help promote more advanced speech patterns and promote sipping versus sucking, so it’s a more mature jaw movement pattern. Additionally, bottles and sippy cups have the tendency to pool liquid around the teeth, which increases risk of cavities. So, transitioning to open cup and a straw cup can reduce this risk.
Many parents ask me why not just use a sippy cup? Well, this is OKAY; however we as adults only use open cups and straw cups and our babies can be taught to use this. We don’t tend to use sippy cups (or I hope) and so children do not need these “gateway” cup style.
Timeframe for Transitioning to Open cup/Straw Cup
After 6 months, begin open cup use with water regularly at meals, once baby is sitting independently. This takes practice, so be patient. The goal is to ideally wean off the bottle by 12-18 months. Ideal age to introduce the straw cup is after nine months after practicing with the open cup. Once your baby is able to swallow liquid using an open cup, begin practicing with a straw cup. You can absolutely do it simultaneously with an open cup, but I like the open cup first because it’s harder and then going to the straw cup.
How to Introduce a straw cup
One method is to fill the cup with milk or water and squeeze the cup once they have their lips wrapped around the straw so the liquid squirts up. Our goal is to teach them that if they wrap their lips around this, that liquid will come up. If they do it, make sure to always remember positive reinforcement “Yay great work drinking from the straw!”
Another method is for them to practice wrapping lips around the straw and sucking.
You can suck up the liquid into the straw, place it in the baby’s mouth and allow them to suck the liquid that’s in the straw. Release the end of the straw once their lips are wrapped at the end.
Remember, to try various types of cups – checkout my amazon storefront for Ryaan’s favorites!
Keep your routine and patience in offering the straw cup. If they get upset as you try to transition to a straw cup, remember you are teaching them a new skill. Offer verbal reassurance.