Here is Dr. Ashley back with all things straw cups!
There is a recommended order of cup introduction to help with proper oral development and oral-motor skills. We already talked about the first cup – the open cup. The second cup we want to introduce is the straw cup.
When baby can successfully drink (with your assistance) from an open cup, you can introduce a straw cup. This is usually around 6-9 months, when with an adult holding the cup, baby can get a small amount of water into their mouth and swallow.
We know the amazing benefits of the open cup, but sometimes we need a spill/leak-proof option for on-the go! This is where straw cups come in. We are teaching baby a mature swallow pattern, where they place their tongue behind their top teeth. This is important for proper oral development (dental, eating, speech). Straw cups promote this skill in conjunction with open cups.
It is important that baby learns how to use both an open cup and a straw cup. Try to use an open cup the majority of the time, but still offer straw cups, so that baby can practise and master this skill.
Introducing these cups to your baby at 6-months will help make weaning off the bottle easier. We want to wean from the bottle somewhere around 12-18 months. Breastfeeding has positive effects on oral development – it does not need to be weaned at 12-18 months, like bottles do.
Munchkin 360 Cups – Not Recommended
New research has shown that these cups can cause an abnormal drinking pattern. Try to use an open cup and straw cup for the majority of the time instead. The new research has shown that kids use excessive jaw movement (jaw protrusion) to get the liquid out. It can also cause their tongue to stick out while they drink, rather than up behind their top teeth, like we want. This can impact speech articulation in the future. Also, some kids tilt their head back to get liquid out, causing their tongue to work in an abnormal way. 360 cups are fine to use occasionally, but developmentally, it’s important to use an open cup or straw cup! A Speech Language Pathologist also told me that baby’s head tilting back can increase the risk of aspiration, and the excessive jaw movement can lead to tension and muscle stiffness.
Some Great Straw Cups
Talktools Honey Bear Drinking Cup
Perfect for first learning.
Munchkin Clock Lock Weighted Flexi-Straw Cup
Great for 8+ months. It is weighted and more “advanced.” It is spill-proof and will help baby strengthen those mouth muscles!
The First Years Take and Toss
Wonderful for milk, because they are easy to clean.
Glitter & Spice Grow With Me Silicone Bear Cup
This is both an open cup and a straw cup. It has handles and a silicone grip. Plus, it’s adorable. Lauren’s daughter has this one!
Skip Hop Toddler Sippy Cup Transition Bottle: Stainless Steel
For 12+ months. Baby can transition to a stainless steel straw water bottle. If they can hold it, open and close it themselves, and drink water from it independently, they can use it. It keeps water cold, and is great to travel with. It can be used for a baby, as well as a toddler.
Whichever straw cup you choose, try switch it up after a while, so baby gets exposure to different straw features (diameter, material, suction valve, weighted-options, etc.).
Okay, now you’re asking, how do I teach my baby to use a straw cup? I got you covered!
Good luck with those straws, babies!