Your child learns new skills fast while growing from a newborn to a toddler. One of the most valuable life skills you can help your child learn early on is how to drink independently from an open cup or a cup with a straw. This skill prepares your baby to learn to nourish themselves without parental assistance and strengthen their muscles for speaking and chewing.
Different Types of Cups for Babies to Learn to Drink
There are various popular cup options to choose from when teaching your child how to drink on their own. Many feeding therapists recommend introducing an open cup and a straw cup, such as a Brightbery smoothie cup, between the ages of 6 and 12 months.
An open cup
Keep in mind that you'll be dealing with many spills practising with an open cup. Ensure it is small enough for your baby to hold comfortably and only put in small amounts of liquid so there is less to clean and your baby doesn't accidentally flood themselves.
Cup with a straw
A smoothie cup with a straw is a fantastic choice for teaching your child how to drink independently. It takes time for a child to transfer their suction skills from a bottle teat to a straw. Drinking with a straw is a skill they will use throughout their entire life, and starting earlier rather than later helps them quickly develop their oral skills for feeding and speech. You'll also enjoy the bonus of having a lid to help prevent spills.
Sippy cup and 360 cup
Sippy and 360 cups are very popular amongst parents because many prefer to avoid messy spills as much as possible. However, these cups are only for babies and infants. They will quickly be tossed aside after they begin to master straws and open cups.
How to Help Your Child Learn to Drink From a Smoothie Cup
The pipette method is an easy way to show your child the purpose of the straw and how to drink from a smoothie cup. Remove the straw and close the top end with your finger to trap a small amount of water, milk, or formula in the other end. Hold out the end with the liquid until your baby accepts it. When the straw is in their mouth, release your finger, so the liquid flows into their mouth. This helps your child understand that closing their lips around the straw brings the liquid out. Keep practising this, and soon you'll notice that they'll start to use suction to pull the liquid out.
Tips for Encouraging Children to Use a Smoothie Cup Independently
If your child has trouble staying focused while practising drinking from a cup with a straw, that's totally okay. Infants and toddlers learn through exploration and play, so give them some time to chew and feel around the smoothie cup before trying to get them to drink again. When they successfully take a sip or two using the straw, reward them with encouragement and playtime. After some positive reinforcement and time to practise, they'll be drinking through straws like a pro.
If you're concerned about your child pulling the straw out and causing big spills, don't worry; our smoothie cups already come with our specially-designed stopper straws for extra security. Remember to be patient with your child as they learn these new skills. Though babies learn rapidly, patience and kindness through the messes will be much more effective than punishing them for their mistakes.