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Why teach your baby to drink from an open cup?

Now that your baby is comfortably sitting, possibly crawling and eating solids, it’s time to introduce a new skill - drinking from an open cup.

Drinking from an open cup is a big milestone - just like walking, it is something your baby will be doing for the rest of his life. But it’s also a skill that requires a lot of practice and patience.

So, why teach your baby to drink from an open cup? The biggest reason is to support healthy oral and speech development. Speech pathologists recommend it since they help your baby develop the muscles in the mouth that support speech development, but it also aids with teething and helps your baby learn to have a strong swallow. 

Although you can introduce an open cup any time from 6 months, most infants will be able to use a cup (possible with a little help from you) between 9 - 12 months.  It will only be by 16 to 17 months that most toddlers possess the motor coordination to drink from an open cup (mostly) dribble-free and only if they had enough practice.

Wondering how to start? Try these tricks, but embrace the spills!

  • Start by adding some breastmilk or formula to the cup. Your baby will be excited to taste something they are familiar with.
  • Start with a small amount so that there is less to spill.
  • Help guide the cup to their mouth. You can gently place your hands over theirs and help bring it up to their mouth slowly.
  • Model drinking from an open cup. Finish your sip with a big "AAH" so your baby can see you got your drink.

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