I wanted to write a quick blog post on introducing straw and open cups to help any new mamas out. 🙂 Speech Pathologists (me!) recommend using straw cups and open cups over sippy cups. This is because when drinking from a bottle or sippy cup (also using a pacifier/thumb sucking), your baby’s tongue pushes out. Over time, too much use of these may cause your child to have “forward tongue protrusion,” or their tongue pushing forward through their teeth. This can change their dental structure and lead to a tongue thrust. Instead, we recommend using straws cups, which promote the tongue to retract back.
What Cup to Start With
So how do you get your baby to drink from a straw? My favorite method is using the Honey Bear cup starting at around 7 or 8 months (just to introduce) that I will link below. You can squeeze the bear’s belly and it will push the water up through the straw. You baby will taste the water (or breast milk or formula) and automatically start sucking on the straw. It might take a few tries, because they need to get a nice tight seal with their lips, but typically they will pick it up quickly. I also liked this cup for when he was little (7-9 months) because it was light and easy for him to hold. *The straws are really long with these cups, I always cut them down. Also just to note, at this young age a baby should only have a few oz of water per day as they are still drinking breast milk/formula from a bottle. As they get older and eat more solid foods and less breast milk/formula, you can increase the amount of water.
My next introduction after Luca had the Honey Bear down were the no spill straw cups because; mess. There are so many no spill cups that are so hard to drink from! Some you need to bite down and then suck, and others that were just really effortful. So after ordering about a million from Amazon, I found my favorite is the b.box straw cup. It’s BPA free, has a silicone straw, and it’s easy to hold and drink from. We use this as our water cup. I also like this stainless steel cup by Munchkin (Luca uses it for his milk because it keeps it cold longer). For smoothies, Luca uses this mason jar with a silicone straw. I like it because it’s easy to clean! Just fair warning, the straw can be pulled out so I monitor closely. 🙂 I bought the jar jackets for these as well!
Open cup drinking can also be introduced as young as 7 months. You of course need to help by holding the cup and guiding your baby, but the goal is for them to close their lips on the edge of the cup, make a seal and then take a sip and swallow. Honestly, my favorite way to introduce this is using a cheap plastic tumbler cup. The main reason is so you can see the water in the cup which helps you control the liquid. Your baby might take too much in the beginning and cough. That’s ok, they just need to get the coordination down. After they get the hang of it, these bamboo cups by WeeSprout are adorable, as well as this Tiny Cup by EZPZ! Another popular transition cup is this 360 trainer cup by Munchkin, which is basically a “no spill open cup,” however I don’t use this one. I stick to straw cups or regular open cups.
I of course have not tried EVERY cup out there. If you have other favorites I would love to know, and I can add them to the list. 🙂