Straw-Drinking 101 for Babies and Toddlers

Posted by Jane Springston on

Figuring out the how, the when, the what and the how much to feed your new baby was likely an overwhelming endeavor, but you persevered and figured out what worked best for your little one and you. You're probably smooth sailing by now...until you realize that time isn't slowing down and your little one is already ready for the next phase. Straws and sippy cups?! "How are we here already?!" you think.

We got you, mama. Read on to find out all about the ins and outs of helping your little one drink from a straw as well as our favorite straw sippy cups for babies and toddlers.

When do babies learn to drink from a straw?

Most straw cups you will find are recommended for babies aged nine months and up, though you can start teaching your baby to drink from a straw as young as six months.

You’ll want to choose a shorter straw initially since it requires less force for the liquid to come up. Another way to help your baby drink from a straw sooner is by tipping the straw just enough so that a little bit of water comes up into your baby’s mouth. In this way the baby will be able to have a better understanding that the point of the straw is to get liquid into their mouths. They may not get it right away, but keep with it and your baby will learn!

On the flip side, if your baby is still in the 6-8 month range and only seems frustrated at your attempts to get them to drink from a straw cup, you may just want to put it aside and wait a few weeks before trying again. 

Are straw sippy cups good for toddlers?

You’ve likely heard that sippy cups aren’t that good for your child’s teeth or speech, but take one quick look around and you’ll realize that pretty much every parent is allowing their young child to use a sippy cup at one time or another. Especially on the go. Even if it may not be the very best choice, keeping our sanity as parents matters, too.

One way to find a happy medium is to give your baby or young child different types of cups to drink from so as to broaden their sensory experiences and to not get them always drinking in the same motion. Additionally, straw cups can be a better alternative to a typical sippy cup that has a spout.

According to therapyworks.com, straw cups or cups without a spout are the best choice. Unlike spout cups that can block the tongue from getting where it needs to be, straw cups are much better because drinking from a straw requires bringing the tongue to the back of the mouth.

In short, straw sippy cups are a great choice for your older baby and toddler.

How do I transition my baby from a bottle to a straw cup?

Sippy cups are the perfect way to wean a baby off of their bottle without moving them straight into an open cup that will most definitely lead to a spill in those baby and younger toddler years. A straw sippy cup isn’t the only sippy cup option, but the perfect way to start getting your older baby to learn how to drink from a straw.

Healthychildren.org recommends that you move your baby away from their bottle after their first birthday. It doesn't need to happen right away but the sooner you can get your little one drinking from a cup, the better. But this can be a difficult task if you’ve never introduced your baby to any type of cup previously, so it’s important that you start the exploratory phase much sooner.

We recommend introducing a sippy cup to your baby at the same time you are introducing solid foods (around 6 months of age). You can set it on their tray at mealtimes. Even if it ends up on the floor more often than they actually drink from it, it gives you the opportunity to teach them how to use it and they get more comfortable drinking from it as time goes on. Guiding your baby to have sips from the open cup you're drinking from is helpful, too.

By the time a straw sippy cup is introduced, which is typically recommended around the age of 8-9 months, your little one will already have a pretty good understanding of what to do with it.

The more energy you put in getting your little used to a sippy cup during the second half of their first year, the easier it will be to get them to give up their bottle at age one.

Can I give my baby formula in a straw cup?

According to the AAP, babies are encouraged to start drinking from a cup at the age of 6 months. Though water in the cup at mealtime is perfectly fine to get them used to drinking from a cup, putting formula in the cup works, too. 

But there are a couple of thoughts to keep in mind:

  • At first, your baby will likely struggle to get a lot of liquid from the cup. Therefore, you don’t want to rely on only the cup option for feeding your baby when you are just getting them introduced to it.

  • You don’t want to have your baby sipping on their cup all day long. Just as you would expect your baby to finish a formula feed from a bottle in one sitting, you’ll want to ensure the same if they are drinking from a sippy or straw cup.

Don't feel like you need to put formula in your baby's sippy cup too soon though. Waiting until they are nearing the age of one as you transition them to whole milk may work better for some babies. Remember that it's about getting them used to the straw early on to make the transition go smoothly, but doesn't mean they can't continue to use their bottle until they are more comfortable drinking from a cup.

Best Straw Sippy Cups for Babies

Starting your little out with a straw sippy cup can be a lot better choice than the typical spout cups you may initially be considering. Here are a few of our favorites!

1. 2-in-1 Snack/Drink Cup from the Baby’s Brew

Raise your hand if you love any baby product that serves a dual purpose?! I know I do. That’s what’s so fun about this straw sippy cup from the Baby’s Brew.

The company known for their amazing portable bottle warmer now has a super cool sippy cup for your little one to use as they transition from bottle to cup. Depending on whether it’s thirst or hunger that’s striking your toddler at a given moment, this option can do both. This is the only straw sippy cup on our list that can also hold snacks! We also love the suction design on the bottom to help with accidental drops to the floor and the collapsible functionality is a bonus, also. Made from 100% toxin-free silicone, it’s an option you can feel great about putting into your child’s hands and mouth.

2. OXO Tot Transitions Straw Cup

This straw sippy cup is recommended for babies ages eight months and up. You may be able to help your baby learn to use it a little bit sooner, but just remember that it takes babies a bit of time to understand how to suck the liquid up from the straw.

This spill-proof option makes life easier for mom and dad while still having a straw valve that opens as soon as it comes into contact with your baby’s lips. Features to love include the hinged cap that keeps the straw portion clean when not in use and the removable handles allow you to customize the cup for your little one’s needs.

3. Dr. Brown’s Sippy Straw Bottle

If you’re looking for a sippy straw cup that you can feel good about giving your baby when they start eating solid foods, this is an excellent choice. Made for babies as young as six months old, this sippy “bottle” was made to make the transition from bottle to cup as smooth as possible (especially if you were already using Dr. Brown’s bottles).

The weighted straw design is a feature you won’t find in many other straw sippy cups and allows little ones to be able to continue getting the liquid inside the bottle even if they tilt it from side-to-side. The removable handles and spill-proof cap make this choice even better. 

4. Stainless Steel 12 oz. Mason Jar with Sippy Straw Top

The entire line of mason jar bottles and cups are not only charming, they’re also a completely functional product that’s great for the environment. What’s great about these bottles is that they transition from bottle, to sippy cup, to cup meaning you’ll have them for years to come. This leads to less waste over time and is a more economical choice in the long run, as well. If you already have the bottle all you need to do is purchase the straw to turn it into a straw sippy your little one will love.

5. Nuby No-Spill Cup with Flex Straw

A good sippy cup doesn’t have to be expensive and that’s been proven by all the amazing reviews given to this FlexStraw cup that comes in at less than five dollars. This is a handle free option which makes it ideal for cup holders but possibly a tougher option to hold for the tiniest hands. It does have grips on the sides to help with this, but this choice is probably better suited for the toddler years. The straw is made from soft silicone that won’t spill or drip and is also gentle on your baby’s gums. 

 

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