Sometimes parenting makes you do really off the wall things and go against your book knowledge. When it came time to transition my oldest son to a cup I was extremely worried about his weight. All through his first year of life he gained weight very slowly. He also had a difficult time transitioning to solid foods, so I was worried about his milk consumption once he was weaned off the bottle at twelve months. I did what any other parent would do and bought fifty million different kinds of sippy cups. Did he like a single one? Nope! He gradually transitioned to a straw cup and by thirteen months we packed away the bottles. I am currently weaning Noah and did things a little differently the second time around. I first introduced him to the straw cup around 9 1/2 months. Around 11 months it “clicked” and he now is drinking from the straw at meal times.
As I mentioned last week, the use of a straw and open cup promotes the appropriate tongue position for the development of certain speech sounds and a correct swallowing pattern. I also rambled on about the oral motor developmental skills that occur leading up to the ability to drink from a straw. Much like any other milestone, there is a typical age range of when a child can master this skill (9 to 15 months) BUT they all will be able to do it with daily exposure to a straw. Some tips to get you started:
1. If you are just introducing your baby to cup drinking, just start with the straw. It will be a slower learning curve (than a sippy), but developmentally a better choice. When a child drinks from a sippy cup they are using the same suck pattern they use for bottle drinking. If your toddler uses only sippy cups but can use a straw, ditch all the sippy cups and do it cold turkey. The first few days may suck but they soon forget about their beloved sippy cup.
2. Use a juice box to help your child understand the concept of withdrawing liquid from a straw. I’m not a huge fan of sugary juice but find that the Honesty Tea kids juice has much less sugar than most other juice boxes. Encourage your child to put his or her lips around the straw while you squeeze up the juice. This will teach them that the straw is for drinking. Another less messy way is to use a washed out honey bear container and disposable straw.
3. Try the dip and tip method. Dip a straw into your child’s beverage of choice, put your finger tip on the end of the straw and lift out of the cup. With your finger still on the end, put the end of the straw into your child’s mouth (onto the tongue tip), and tell him/her to “take a sip”. Then release the straw so all the liquid flows into your child’s mouth.
4. Once your child feels comfortable with the liquid flowing into their mouth teach him or her to close their lips around the straw, by modeling and/or pinching their lips together. If your child has a negative reaction to you touching their lips do it to yourself first. If they still aren’t grasping the concept of putting their lips around the straw, get down to their level and show them how to do it, while making crazy sucking sounds and facial expressions. Kids love to imitate your facial expressions, so play up drinking with a straw.
5. If your child is having a hard time expressing with the spout straws remove the valve part or use a regular straw. Cut the regular straw in half, so there they need less strength to express the liquid up into their mouth.
Now that your committed to using a straw cup (hopefully) there are a million straw cup options. I know, shocking huh? Here are a few that we have tried:
The boring details: BPA free, dishwasher safe, and insulated.
Why my kids dig them: The contoured design makes it easy for little hands to hold.
Why mommy digs them: Replacement straws are $4.00 for a pack of 2, easy to clean, easy to assemble. I found that the Natural Flow Dr. Brown Cleaning brushes work great to clean inside the straws
*The product specs claim that these cups do not leak but they tend to leak a little bit when thrown to the floor and left to sit, because mommy is too tired from picking up the cup over and over again. They also have quite a milk shooting range when your child learns how to flick the straw open and close. With that being said, I think any straw cup will leak when put in the right hands.
Take and Toss Straw Cups
The boring details: Valve free, snap on and off lids, BPA and dishwasher safe.
Why my kids dig them: They are fun for blowing milk bubbles and make the biggest mess while doing so.
Why mommy digs them: The simplicity of the three parts means less aggravation when putting together and cleaning the cup. Also they do not have a straw valve so they are the “gold standard” straw for oral motor development.
Why they will drive any Type A parent nuts: See why the kids love them!
Nuby 2 Handle Straw Cup Partially BPA free (the handle and lids are not), dishwasher safe, replacement parts are not sold separately.
Why my kids dig them: The handles are great for little hands.
Why mommy digs them: Xander learned how to drink from a straw using this cup. Once he mastered straw drinking I quickly disposed of them, because they are awful to put together and keep clean. I didn’t purchase them the second time around.
Do you have any tips for teaching your little ones how to drink from a cup? Do you have a favorite straw cup? Please share your thoughts, comments, and questions! Stay tuned for a straw cup giveaway on a new product I will be reviewing. Next week my topic will be on language based play and I can’t wait!