Giving a baby an open drinking cup might seem like a crazy idea, but there are many reasons why open cups are a better choice over sippy cups.
Speech pathologists and dentists prefer babies to use open cups when possible because open cups help babies build the muscles in their mouths that are used to form sounds (and also lessen drooling).
Practice with an open cup helps your baby learn what to do with a small amount of liquid that reaches her mouth when she isn’t sucking on a breast or bottle. Babies don’t yet need water for hydration, though a little water can help with constipation and give your baby a chance to learn to enjoy the taste.
Here’s how to get started:
- Consider introducing the open cup during seated mealtimes, once she’s eating finger foods.
- Start with a small amount of water, no more than an inch, and model drinking from the cup for your baby.
- At first, your baby will just pour the water out, bang the cup on the table, or drop the cup on the floor. She’s learning about pouring, real-life cause and effect, containment, and gravity. Good thing it’s just water!
- Over the next few months, your baby will start to understand how to tilt the cup and drink the water that ends up in her mouth.
- Your baby should have no more than one to two ounces of water per day—breastmilk/formula should be her primary source of hydration.
Straw cups use different muscles than an open cup and are preferred over sippy cups. A good balance would be to use a straw cup when on the go or concerned about spilling, and an open cup during seated mealtimes.
Watch this Montessori mom Kylie’s 6-month-old son Otis learn to drink from a cup.