Why should I use straw cups for toddlers?
Is a straw cup really better than a sippy cup?
My baby refuses to go anywhere near a straw cup!
If you have similar queries or concerns, then you should definitely read this article.
You probably know that babies should be weaned off from feeding bottles between 12- 18 months. These bottles are notorious for promoting tooth decay, and can interfere with the positioning of adult teeth.
That said, sippy cups that don’t leak seems to be the obvious next choice for your little munchkin, right? But I say no.
Children suck on sippy cups the same way they suck from a bottle, so these are also bad for their oral health. Surprising?
Interesting facts about sippy cup:
- Sippy cups were only invented in 1980. Before that, children were only drinking from a regular cup. After sippy cups became popular, there have been lots of children suffering from oral health issues due to the prolonged use of these cups.
- Sippy cups were invented as a convenience for the parents, as a spill proof way to let their children drink milk, juice or water. They were never meant to be a developmental milestone for the child.
Why is sippy cup not so ideal?
- The spout in the sippy cup acts as a hindrance for the tongue’s movement, creating an abnormal swallowing pattern just as in a feeding bottle.
- Sipping juices or milk (which contain natural sugars) throughout the day increases the chances of dental decay.
- Excessive use of sippy cups prevents a child from developing good oral motor skills, which can make it difficult for them to utter certain speech sounds leading to lisp or slurred speech.
Is sippy cup a definite no-no?
If you can manage without a sippy cup, great. My son was exclusively breastfed and transitioned directly to tumbler. No bottles or sippy cups for him.
However, it is quite ok to use sippy cups during the bottle to cup transition period for a month or so. Then the children should be moved to regular tumblers or straw cups.
Also, care should be taken that sippy cups are only used for travel, or when spills are not acceptable. When children are at home, they can use a regular tumbler or cup.
You can also read my review of Philips avent spout cup.
What are the alternatives?
- A regular tumbler can be given to babies as young as six months with assistance from an adult. By the time the child is a year old, they will have the skill to handle the tumbler by themselves. But mind you, it can be messy.
- Just add a straw to a regular tumbler, and your child should have a fun time drinking from it
- Use spill proof straw cup, which has the same conveniences without the health risks.
Benefits of straw cups for toddlers:
Straw cups can be introduced to a baby from 9 months onwards. In a few months, they will develop the skills to drink from a straw without difficulty. But make sure that your baby doesn’t suck too much liquid too quickly as this can cause her to choke and cough. This can be done by using a thinner straw or a thicker liquid like milkshake.
The muscles used for drinking from a straw are the same muscles that are used to develop a better swallowing pattern and for uttering some speech sounds. This is the reason straw drinking is much better than drinking from a sippy cup.
You can also read the 10 effective ways to encourage talking in toddlers.
My child had no idea how to drink from a straw cup:
Though my little champ was already drinking from a tumbler, I thought a spill proof cup would definitely be helpful for travelling. So I bought a straw cup and handed it to my son.
I still remember that weird moment – when I realized that sucking from a straw was not something that my child knew intuitively…. My cutie pie had no interest in his new possession. The cup got tossed to the back of a shelf.
Things I did to teach him drink from a straw bottle:
Then I decided it was time to give the spill free cup another try. I gathered a few tips that encouraged my almost two year old in this learning. Let me share those tips with you, so you can use them on your little one too.
I showed him how to suck water from a straw and handed the bottle to him. He tried. Poor little thing, nothing came out. He was frustrated. Now I tried sucking from the cup myself. Oops. I had to suck hard. As it turned out, the valve that is used to ensure the leak proof nature of the cup also made it very hard to suck. That complicated things. I took off the lid and tried to drink with the straw.This time the flow was better.
My tiny tot thought it was much easier to remove the straw and drink straight from the bottle. Being used to a tumbler, he also did not realize that he should not lift the bottle fully to drink through the straw. The lower end of the straw has to be in contact with water.
I had another idea. Only that I had to trade off some hygiene. I sucked some water with the straw. Once it got filled, I closed the upper end of the straw with my index finger. I put the straw in his mouth with the lower end of the straw pointing skywards and released the finger. The water that was held in the straw went into his mouth. He got it. Now he tried doing it himself. But he couldn’t suck well enough.
Now I wanted to be sure whether the straw I gave to him was really filled with the liquid I sucked. It was difficult to see the color of water in the white straw. I poured out the water and added some chocolate milk. This was a double benefit. One- I could now see the brown liquid clearly in the white straw. Two- My son loves chocolate milk (Which child doesn’t?). I sucked some liquid and closed the straw with my finger. I could see it hold the chocolate milk. When I released the finger, he was happy to drink.
I now put the lid on and asked him to suck by himself. My smart kid asked me to open the lid so he can drink without the straw. The chocolate milk was making him impatient. I told him it is a straw cup and it cannot be opened. It is supposed to be used with the straw. He was not convinced. It isn’t wise to persist with a toddler. I simply left the cup at a place where he can easily reach.
We went out for a stroll and came back in half an hour. There, he saw the straw cup. He reached for it and drank all the chocolate milk by himself. Ta-dah. Mission accomplished! Ah, the things we can achieve with time and patience.
You can also read the 5 medicinal benefits of silverware for babies and kids.
More tips for the mom:
Here are a few more tips you can try to encourage your child drink from straw cup.
- If you never used sippy cup for your baby, directly try straw cup instead.
- Start with a regular straw in a tumbler of water. The straws in spill proof cups are much harder to suck from. This is what discouraged my toddler initially. Once they are able to suck from regular straw, then give them spill proof cup.
- Make an older cousin or friend drink from a straw cup, so that your child wants to imitate.
- Give him their favorite drink in it to encourage them to drink from the straw. You can dip the top end of the straw into the drink. When he tastes it, they will get the idea that the liquid should come out of the straw.
- Use a juice box or tetra pack with a straw. You can squeeze the juice box a bit such that some liquid gets squirted into his mouth. This will encourage him to try to drink the rest of the juice through the straw. Let me make a disclaimer here that this is only to encourage your child to learn as we do not encourage you to give your child store bought juice regularly.
Have you got your child to use a straw cup? How easy was the transition? Did you use any tricks to encourage him or her to use it? Which according to you is the best cup to transition from bottle?
Do share your tips with our readers.
If you have just learnt today about the benefits of straw cups for toddlers, are you planning to give it a try? We would love to know what you think.