If your baby is 6 months of age, sitting up on their own, and eating solid foods, they are ready to drink from a straw!
Sippy cups are basically bottles in disguise. They function the same and the same oral motor patterns are used to drink from both. So, if you are transitioning to a cup in order to advance your child in some way-this isn’t going to happen with the sippy cup!
What’s the best cup for babies to use then? An open cup or a straw cup are ideal choices! They both allow for the development of a mature swallow pattern and are better for baby’s teeth.
While open cups are great, spills are much more likely with these cups. It’s still important to let baby practice with an open cup, but when you’re not in the mood for a mess, a no-spill straw cup is a great option.
Teaching babies how to drink from an open cup is a bit more obvious (although it does take a lot of practice!). How do you teach straw drinking though?
If you put a straw up to baby’s lips and they are clueless about what you are asking them to do, how can you help them?
The Fastest Way to Teach Straw Drinking
In my experience, the fastest way to teach straw drinking is by using cups you can squeeze! Imagine drinking from a juice box. If you squeeze the juice box, the juice comes up the straw. There are several cups that can achieve the same thing without having to use juice boxes. See below for my favorite options!
The honey bear cup is my top choice. It’s easier to squeeze a small amount than the other cups. The flow is pretty slow as well. This makes learning easier for babies and prevents them from taking too much, leading to excessive spillage or coughing.
A bonus of this cup is that you can fill it up and close it (if you remove the straw), allowing you to take it on the go.
The Take and Toss Straw Cup is a classic option feeding specialists have been using for years. While it’s just a normal cup you can often find at Target or Walmart, it can be squeezed to make liquid go up the straw.
This cup is a nice affordable option that comes in a 4 pack. You also have the option of using it as a regular open cup which is great too.
(Helpful note: Put the lid on before you insert the straw to prevent liquid from spilling out the top of the straw!)
Disclaimer: I have not tried this cup with the straw yet myself! I bought the regular open cup version of this cup before they offered the straw option. I do love this cup as a first open cup for baby!
A recent post on Instagram from @chikidsfeeding showed how to use this cup to teach straw drinking. A tip she gave in the comments was to plug the hole on the top of the cup with your finger. This creates a vacuum and allows the liquid to go up the straw when the cup is squeezed.
I love the wide rim at the base of this cup as it helps prevent the cup from tipping over!
How to Teach Straw Drinking with a Squeeze Cup
Start by putting a preferred liquid in the cup. This could be breastmilk, formula, or water. Putting whatever your baby prefers and is already used to drinking in the cup should help increase your baby’s willingness to give the cup a try.
The first time you use any of these cups, I highly recommend holding the cup over the sink and giving it a squeeze. This will give you an idea of how hard to squeeze to make the liquid go up the straw. It will also show you how hard not to squeeze to avoid overwhelming your baby.
Bring the straw up to your baby’s mouth. When they show some attempt to close their mouth around the straw, gently squeeze it to draw the liquid up and into their mouth. Start with a very small amount.
Babies almost always immediately fully close their mouth around the straw and swallow the liquid. In my experience, most babies will begin to suck from the straw on their own after doing this just a few times.
Even if baby is able to drink on their own from the straw quickly, it will likely take a few days or weeks before they can do this consistently. It’s normal to still have to squeeze the cup sometimes when baby is first learning.
Once baby is able to consistently drink from the straw on their own, you can move on to any other straw cup. Check out this article for recommendations.
Is a Squeeze Cup Necessary for Teaching Straw Drinking?
No! A squeeze cup is not essential for teaching straw drinking. You can definitely try other methods, such as those mentioned in this article.
I recommend trying a squeeze cup if you have tried other methods and baby just isn’t getting it. Or if you just want the process to be quick!
Sometimes teaching baby quickly is important. For example, if you’re breastfeeding and introduce a bottle at some point but baby refuses it. When this happens, moving straight to a cup is often a good idea.
If you’re in this situation and really want baby to take a bottle first, check out this article about increasing bottle acceptance.
Did you know that you should work on getting baby off the bottle and onto around age 1? Getting baby onto a straw cup (as well as an open cup!) at an early age can help you meet that goal! I hope you found this article helpful for teaching straw drinking!
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