Around the time your little one is old enough to transition from milk as a primary food source, they are also ready to say goodbye to a bottle. There are many paths that can be taken to wean your child and introduce an upgrade. It might be convenient to hand your infant a sippy cup and run out the door or finish a load of laundry, but what if there was another way?
Consider the benefits of introducing a straw cup to your infant and how to ease into this transition.
Straws Can Strengthen Oral Development
Introducing a straw cup can encourage and support your child’s advanced suckling motion. As children grow, the way they move their mouths also grows—they have more control, more muscle strength, and improved development.
While drinking from a straw, children engage their cheek muscles, tongue, and lips to draw the liquid up. If you can introduce this skill early, you can skip the sippy and help strengthen their oral muscle groups sooner.
Straws Support Speech
When you’re debating the bottle-to-sippy transition, you will likely be awaiting those magical first words. This typically occurs around 12 months of age, though it is essential to remember all children develop at their own pace. The consonants they use early on—like B, P, and M—can improve with an early straw introduction that gives those muscle groups a head start.
The muscle strength required to seal their lips around a straw and pull the liquid up will promote their ability to pronounce these consonants and develop their speech with supported patterns.
Tips for Straw Introduction
So, how do you introduce a cup with a straw? The optimal window to work on this skill is usually between six and nine months of age. Remember that you should follow your baby’s natural abilities and cues before initiating this transition. This early introduction can take place in a couple of ways:
- Take an open cup and child-safe straw and pick up the liquid for your child by placing your thumb over the end of the straw. Let your baby wrap their lips around the open end of the straw and when you see a tight seal, raise your thumb to release the liquid. After trying this several times, your baby will begin to understand that they can pull the liquid through the straw. You may notice your baby pushing air through their lips, like blowing raspberries, but keep working on it until you see them pulling the liquid.
- Give your baby a small open cup that fits perfectly in their hands. Sometimes, an empty medicine cup is perfect. This will encourage your child to get a feel for lip placement on the cup and support them in building oral muscles.
The benefits of introducing a straw cup to your infant outweigh the hassle of finding the perfect sippy cup. You may go through several options before you find the one they like—by then, they should have the straw skills down pat. Try not to stress about the mess; being a parent is already messy and teaching your baby new skills is fun!