Sippy Cups

Emily Blewett, Moms on Call Baby and Toddler Consultant, talks Sippy Cups with Ashley, Speech Language Pathologist, from Sprouting Speech!

Sippy cups are a hot topic! We get so many questions about which sippy cup is best, from open to straw cups. As a parent, I remember being overwhelmed on which cup to choose and when to begin introducing a sippy to my daughter. There are so many options out there, which cups are best and why?!

When to start?

4-6 Months

  • We begin introducing baby food at about 4- 6 Months of age. Meaning we want the sippy to be present!
  • We love starting off with the NUK Learner Cup!
    • We like this sippy cup at this age because it takes time, practice and lots of opportunities for them to familiarize themselves with the sippy cup and learn to drink from it.
  • At this age, they are just learning how to pick up a cup and bring it to their mouth.
    • The soft spout on this cup is a nice transition from the bottle.

What’s Next?

6-15 Months

  • We can begin to introduce a straw cup and open cup at about 6 months old.
  • At this age we want to encourage a more mature swallow and tongue elevation.
  • From a speech and language perspective, we want to move to straw cups by 7 months old and introduce a straw cup at mealtime.
  • Straw and open cups encourage lip closure.
    • Practice movements such as blowing bubbles (rounding lips) and blowing a windmill too!
    • Let them drink water from your open cup and straw, they love to mimic Mommy! 
  • Open and straw cup are the goal to encourage a more mature swallow pattern and discourage frontal tongue position used with bottles or hard sprouted sippy cups.

Tell Me More!

Straw Cups:

  • Our favorite straw cup is the Munchkin.
  • Model it yourself.
    • Get close to their face and show them how you close your lips around the straw and let them try.
  • When first introducing the straw cup, you can suck up the contents of the cup to the tip of the straw for them a few times to help them learn.
  • Patience and consistency is key!
    • Ashley from Sprouting Speech presented a straw cup at every mealtime from 6-9 months old with her twins. One twin got it at about 7 months old, while the other didn’t get it until around 9 months old. Both are the same gender and both got it presented to them the same amount of times. One just caught on two months earlier. Every baby is different!
    • They will all hit developmental milestones at different times.

If you feel like they need more assistance with the straw cup then you can use the Honey Bear Straw Cup.

  • We want to start with the straw short then you can gradually pull more of the straw out.
  • Help by squeezing the liquid while they learn lip closure and to suck.
  • A longer straw requires more strength and coordination.
    • That is why we want to start with the Honey Bear Straw short then gradually increase the length of straw.

Cleaning Tip for Straw Cups:

  • Fill the sippy with hot water and shake.
  • The water will shoot up and out the straw to help clean it – making it much less of a hassle.

When my daughter was 2 years old, we switched to these straw cups to use at home. They are much easier to clean and can be placed on the top shelf of the dishwasher.

Open Cup

  • Show your baby how to take a sip.
  • Then show them how to take a small amount of liquid in their mouth.
    • We want to place the cup on their lips and allow a small amount of liquid to enter their mouth.
    • Then we pull the cup away from their lips. This will teach them how to manage liquid in this manner and they’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.
    • Little ones are usually motivated to try because they see adults drinking from open cups all the time. For the open cup, you can use a little water because it can get messy.
  • EZPZ has a great open cup for babies.
  • The Munchkin 360 cup is a great option as well, for an open cup because it is also spill proof!
    • It’s true that the “360” isn’t ideal (vs. an open cup) from a speech therapist perspective, but at the same time, there is ideal and realistic.
    • The handles make it easy for the baby to hold and pull up to their mouth. Plus it is a less messy option, so it is great for on-the-go!

Keep in mind

  • There is no “right” answer to which sippy cup is best.
  • Variety of different types of cups are important (NUK learner cup, straw cup and open cup)!
  • Find the balance that works for you and your family.
  • Practice, practice and practice! It takes them time to get familiar with the different options.
  • We want to offer a straw cup, NUK sippy cup, or open cup at every mealtime.
  • When we offer a sippy cup or straw cup, we like to put 2 ounces of formula or breastmilk in it.
    • Baby will start to learn how to drink well from it the more it is offered.
    • Then you can increase to 3-4 ounces.
  • It is important to put formula or breastmilk in the straw cup or NUK cup at least 1-2 times a day to help them cruise through the transition to sippy or straw cups with organic whole milk at 12 months old.
    • If baby has a milk protein intolerance or allergy then you can discuss with your pediatrician what would be the best alternative to milk at 12 months old.
  • The other time you offer the sippy cup or open cup each day – it can have 2 ounces of water in it.
    • We still want them to get the majority of their nutrition from breastmilk or formula until 12 months old.

If you are wanting to learn more about the transition that happens at 12 months old, check out this MOC Blog! For additional information, refer to the MOC 6-15 months book. Be sure to follow Sprouting Speech on Instagram for more speech and feeding tips!

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