How to help your toddler use a cup

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Have you started your baby on solid food?

Then it is also time for your baby to start drinking from a cup.

Yes! When your baby is six months old and starts drinking fluids other than breastmilk, start offering liquids in a cup. By the time your baby turns into a toddler then, they will have mastered the skill of drinking independently from a cup.

Why should your baby drink from a cup

  1. Sipping from a cup helps your baby to develop a mature swallow pattern that will help them to eat solids and speak.
  2. Taking the cup to their mouth and tilting it to sip the fluid, will develop their gross and fine motor skills and hand-to-eye coordination.
  3. Lifting the cup and setting it back down without spilling the fluid will build your baby’s focus. 
  4. Using a glass like everyone else will build your baby’s confidence.

How to choose a cup for your baby?

The cups you can use for your baby are – 

  • Open cups without a lid – Using these will mean cleaning up more spills, but these are the best for your baby’s development.
  • Cups with a hard spout – Use one without a nipple inside. When the cup has a nipple, your baby will have to suck. This could lead to speech and teeth problems.
  • Cups with chewable silicone straws – Babies can learn to use these by around 9 months. Choose a cup with a short straw so that the tongue cannot go around the straw.

A cup for every age:

At 6 months start with a tiny cup. You can use the cups used to give medicine. Using a tiny cup has 2 advantages. Firstly, it is easier for your baby to hold.

Secondly it holds very little liquid, so the spills are small and easy to clean up.

At 7 months move to a larger cup with or without handles and weighted base to prevent spills.

At 8 months introduce a cup with a good quality chewable silicone straw.

How to help your baby drink from a cup at 6 months?

  1. Introduce the cup only after they can sit up comfortably.
  2. Pour around 1 ml of water into the medicine cup and guide your baby’s hands to move the cup to their lips.
  3. Tilt the cup at their lips and express delight when the liquid enters your baby’s mouth.
  4. Allow your baby to play with the empty cup through the day and put the cup in their mouth without water.
  5. When your baby has mastered the skill of taking the cup to their lips, put a few drops of water in the cup.
  6. Slowly increase the amount of water in the cup.
  7. Drink from a cup in front of them so that they can imitate your actions.
  8. After your baby learns how to use the open cup, introduce a cup with a silicone straw.

What to serve your baby in the cup?

Begin by serving breastmilk. Then introduce water. Do not serve juice or any other sweetened beverage.

What to do if your toddler is very attached to their bottle?

1. Give them the cup to play with at first.

2. Drink from a cup in front of them.

3. Introduce the cup casually without any pressure to use it.

4. Serve breastmilk in the cup initially.

Using a cup is a life skill. And learning this life skill will help your baby develop many other skills. These skills will build your child’s confidence and make them independent.

Enjoy the journey of introducing the cup and building skills.

By

Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD

Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting and an expert on play, learning and eating habits. She is the author of 7 books on parenting published by Juggernaut Books and her books are among their most read books. She is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute for her empathetic and compassionate approach and her application of physiology and neuroscience to parenting.

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