Why should I use an open cup with my baby?
Learning to use an open cup is an important life skill for your little one to master. It teaches them sipping and swallowing, which helps hone their oral motor skills, aids jaw development and even protects their teeth from cavities.
You may think open cup drinking can lead to more spillages and mess than the more traditional sippy cup, but it actually brings with it a lot of conveniences. That’s because teaching your child how to use an open cup at an early age can mean you can cut out the need to use countless types of sippy cups or bottles aimed at babies and toddlers. Not only does this save money but most importantly, it is a better way to protect your child’s teeth and development.
The regular use of sippy cups is now linked with cavities in children, speech issues, and complicated orthodontic cases.
- Open cup drinking teaches sipping and swallowing
- It helps hone oral motor skills, jaw development and protects teeth
- Encourages independent drinking
- Avoids the need to buy countless types of cups and bottles for your child
What liquid should I put in the open cup?
When introducing an open cup to a baby this is also a great opportunity to introduce water to your child too. In fact, dieticians and dentists recommend babies start to learn to drink water from a cup from six months old. Drinking water at mealtimes is a great healthy habit to establish so that your child can learn to appreciate a refreshing glass of water.
You could also add their normal milk (breast or infant formula) to the cup if you wanted to. However, avoid adding any juices (diluted or otherwise) to the cup as they are concentrated in sugar and are low in nutrition. Drinking juices from a young age can contribute to tooth decay and it can be difficult to break the juice habit once you start.
● Babies are recommended to start drinking water from six months of age
● Drinking water from an open cup helps establish healthy independent drinking habits
● Avoid juices as they are concentrated in sugar and low in nutrition
How to introduce an open cup to your baby – a step by step guide
Begin at six months of age so baby gets used to sipping from an open cup and has many months to practice this new skill.
Choose a small simple cup ideal for small hands and which can hold a small amount of liquid, such as the Dinky Cup.
Introduce the cup at mealtimes when baby is sitting in a high chair or feeding chair. Try using it at breakfast time once a day before having it at every meal.
Place their hands over the cup and then put your hands over theirs (hand over hand guidance). Speak to them as you do it and make it fun – “two hands please!”
Bring the cup up to their lips and get a very small amount into their mouth – holding for approximately 1-2 seconds. They may do nothing or they may spit the water out or splutter. Don’t worry! It’s all part of the natural learning process.
When you take the cup away from their mouth say “ahhh” and encourage them to do the same. This helps promote swallowing.
Set the cup down on the tray or table. Again, make it fun and say “Set it back down gently please!”. Putting the cup down gives them a break in between sips and prevents them from drinking too much too fast.
Model the behaviour of cup drinking yourself so baby can observe and imitate your behaviour. At this early stage it’s all about practice, practice, practice!
As time goes on, encourage your baby to hold the cup themselves. If they spill the contents or throw the cup, try not and make a big deal out of it. Accidents happen and they are just exploring as they learn.
When they get better at handling the cup and are sipping and swallowing well, you can gradually offer more liquid.
Teaching your baby to drink from an open cup like the DinkyCup brings with it so many benefits but it can take to master this new skill.
The key is to be patient and remember that the most important thing is that they still get most of their liquid from breast milk or infant formula. If you go at your little one’s pace you might be surprised at how quickly they pick up cup drinking!
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