How to Teach Your Baby to Drink from an Open Cup

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Teaching Your Baby To Drink From An Open Cup

Teaching your baby to drink from an open cup before they’re 1 year old can seem like the craziest idea.

I mean – isn’t she still a baby?

Shouldn’t she be using sippy cups or still a bottle?

Think of the spills and the messes! And is it even possible?

Well – I have a secret for you, your baby CAN drink from an open cup, and there’s a good chance he or she will be better at it than you think.

It’s also an important skill for your baby to learn as they practice using different facial muscles.

How to Teach Your Baby to Drink from an Open Cup - image shows cute baby girl in white kitchen drinking from an open cupPin

Why Should My Baby Use an Open Cup Instead of a Sippy Cup?

Sippy cups just seem like the natural right of passage, right?

Well – many professionals say to skip the sippy all together if possible.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s best to wean your baby from the bottle by 18 months of age, as it can cause tooth decay or the potential for drinking more fluids than needed.

In fact, skipping sippy cups all together is greatly encouraged in an article on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association blog for 3 reasons:

  • Overusing a hard sippy cup spout can get in the way of development
  • It can impact speech and language development
  • It can change appropriate facial developmentSucking on a sippy cup or bottle too much can cause tooth decay and hurt your child’s teeth

Now, do I think these things are going to happen because you used a sippy cup a few times?

Of course not.

We’ve definitely used a sippy cup before with our children and haven’t seen these issues; however, with our 3rd baby I’m determined to try using a small cup more often.


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Alternatives to a Sippy Cup

If you can’t quite jump on board with an open cup for your baby just yet (hello, spills galore!) – don’t freak out.

Many speech and language pathologists recommend other types of cups for babies and toddlers that are much less likely to spill than a completely open cup.

It’s important to look for a cup with the following trait

If you’re looking for some great alternatives to a sippy cup I love and highly recommend the 360 trainer cup.

It won’t spill if knocked over and it doesn’t have extra spouts or straws, just a smooth rim of the cup – giving your baby a chance to practice using similar muscles to an open cup.

This no spill straw cup is another great alternative to the sippy cup.

It has a weighted straw and is leak proof – which is huge when you have a busy baby or for taking on the go.

Straw cups are also beneficial as your baby can start practicing the sucking motion involved in using a straw, and learn how to take a small sip.

If you’re looking for some great alternatives to a sippy cup we love and highly recommend the open cup.

Our Pick
Playtex Sipsters Spout Cup - 2 pack

You can't go wrong with these spill-proof, leak-proof, break-proof and insulated toddler cups at a great price.

Buy Now
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03/06/2024 10:13 pm GMT
Our Pick
Tough to Tip Learning Cup
$11.99 ($6.00 / Count)

These cups are perfect for little hands, especially for those learning to drink from an open cup.

The cups are difficult to tip, easy to grip, and a great price.

Buy Now
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03/06/2024 11:40 pm GMT
Our Pick
Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup, Green/Blue, 7 Oz, 2-pack
$14.19 $13.49

These dentist recommended cups eliminate spills and automatically seal when you're done drinking.

The handles are great for little ones learning to drink from a cup!

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03/07/2024 07:48 pm GMT

What Open Cup Should You Get?

As you probably can guess, choosing the right open cup for your baby is essential.

I truly thought it would be SO hard to teach my baby to drink from an open cup, but – with the right cup – it was really simple.

You’ll want to look for an open cup that has:

  • A weighted base – so it doesn’t tip as easily
  • Has easy to grab sides for little hands
  • High durability, because chances are good it may drop a time or two
  • Avoid larger cups that are too big for baby to hold or may give baby too much water in his or her mouth at oncex

So what open cup do I recommend?

One great option for little mouths is this cup by eZtotZ.

It checks all the boxes above and even our 3 year old likes to drink out of it.

We can’t believe we waited until baby #2 to get it (to be honest, I’m not sure it existed with baby #1).

Our Pick
Tough to Tip Learning Cup
$11.99 ($6.00 / Count)

These cups are perfect for little hands, especially for those learning to drink from an open cup.

The cups are difficult to tip, easy to grip, and a great price.

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
03/06/2024 11:40 pm GMT

How to Teach Your Baby to Drink from an Open Cup

Once you’ve found an open cup for baby that you love, it’s time to teach your baby how to drink from a cup without a cover.

1.Start by putting your baby in their booster or high chair with a great open cup

2.Put a little bit of water in the cup

3.Give your baby a little help by putting the cup in your baby’s hands and slowly raising it to his or her open mouth together (hand over hand)

4.Tip the cup back slowly and pour a tiny bit of water into your child’s mouth.

5.Help your baby set the cup down and slowly take it away so they can have time to swallow.

6.Then try again!

7.Keep repeating the process until your child catches on.

8.Eventually let your child pick up the cup like a big kid and bring it to their own mouth.

To help your child learn to drink without a cover, place extra emphasis on modeling how to drink from an open cup as well.

Keep in mind that depending on your baby’s age and development, he or she may pick up the process of drinking from an open cup very quickly or may need some more practice.

Chances are good it’ll take a while for your baby to have absolutely no spills, but with lots of practice this new skill will come.

Bonus Tips When Starting to Use an Open Cup With Your Baby

Sometimes you need a few extra suggestions when introducing an open cup to your baby.

These tips will help you succeed:

1. Don’t Stress

First, try not to stress about the mess. Get in the mindset that you’re just trying it out and seeing what will happen.

It’s not going to make or break baby OR your parenting if it doesn’t go well.

And remember, the worst thing that will happen is some water dribbles down your baby’s chin or some water on the floor.

You got this!

2. Get a Good Waterproof Bib and Easy to Wipe Down High Chair

Next, it’s time to prep your baby!

Invest in a good waterproof bib for your baby to catch the inevitable water dribbles that will happen. I recommend a silicone one like this. You’ll keep you and your baby happy with fewer spills and uncomfortable wet clothes!

Since spills are likely to happen while your baby is learning this new skill, an easy to wipe down high chair will be a lifesaver – one like this is a great way to make cleanups easy (especially if you’re also doing baby led weaning).

While it may not seem the most comfortable, one without fabric padding will be the fastest to dry and easiest to clean up.

3. Practice in the Tub

If making a mess in the kitchen or dining room feels too daunting to you, you can always have your baby practice drinking from an open cup during bath time.

This keeps the mess contained and can be a fun new activity for your baby to try.

4. Stay Positive

Your baby may not catch on right away to drinking from an open cup – and that’s okay!Just like you do with all new things your baby is trying, stay positive, offer opportunities for your baby to keep practicing the new skill, and try to remember it’s all part of the learning process.

If either of you gets frustrated, just put the open cup away and try again later.

If you do have concerns about your baby’s eating and drinking, be sure to bring up your oral motor skills to his or her doctor.

Summary of the Starter Tips for Parents:

Here’s a quick refresher of the bonus tips:

  • Try not to stress – messes will happen, but watch the progress!
  • Having a bib like this one has been a LIFE SAVER. It catches the milk that will probably be spilling down your baby’s chin (at least in the beginning), so you’re not worried about it ending up in her lap.
  • Attempt it in the kitchen only
  • Have an easy to wipe down high chair – like this one!
  • Practice in the bathtub
  • If baby doesn’t catch on right away, stay positive. You want your baby to have a great experience and want to learn this. Not be afraid he’ll upset you by trying.

When Should I Start Teaching My Baby to Drink From An Open Cup

Most experts say you can begin giving your baby a small amount of water after they are 6 months old and starting solid foods.

Meal times is a great time to offer a small drink as your baby is already set up in their high chair and can be given their own cup to practice with.

I’ll admit, we didn’t really start trying to teach drinking with an open cup regularly until after our babies were one. But it’s definitely possible and encouraged by many experts to offer an open cup earlier.

Keep in mind that according to the World Health Organization, babies who have breast milk (whether straight from breastfeeding or from pumping and then bottle feeding), do not need additional water.

Here’s a great video of a mom teaching her baby how to drink from an open cup at 6 months old:

How Much Water Should a Baby Drink

It’s a good idea for a baby who is just starting to drink water to begin with just sips of water.

Not only will this make the process of introducing a little bit of liquid in an open cup or even a sippy easier, but too much water for a baby under the age of 1 isn’t good for them.

HealthyChildren.org recommends starting a 6 month old with only 4-8 oz a day of water in an open, sippy, or strawed cup.

Keep in mind that babies who are 6-12 months typically are getting enough hydration through mom’s breast milk or their infant formula; and having more than the recommended 4-8 oz a day can lead to water intoxication.

The Best Way to Transition Baby from Bottle to Open Cup

Whether you’re pumping breast milk and giving it to your child in a baby bottle or formula feeding, weaning your baby off a bottle by 18 months can be stressful.

By starting to introduce an open cup at 6 months old your baby may be more comfortable and willing to give up a bottle than they otherwise might have been.

Hopefully these top tips to introducing your baby to a regular cup have given you more confidence to try an open cup with your young children. Have you transitioned your baby to an open cup yet?

I’d love to hear about your favorites and how old your baby was when you started!

Related: Baby Led Weaning – 3 Months of 1st Foods

Related: How to Start Baby Led Weaning (And Why You’ll Want To!)

Related: How to do Baby Led Weaning When Your Baby Goes to Daycare

skip the sippy - how to get your baby to drink from an open cupPin

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