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Open Cups: Why 6+ Month Olds Should Use Them

Open Cups: Why 6+ Month Olds Should Use Them

As pediatric speech-language pathologists, we work with children in all aspects of communication and feeding. So, when little ones begin the transition from bottle to cup, we get asked about which cups to use and why.

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Open Cups: Why 6+ Month Olds Should Use Them

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies breast/bottle feed until 12 months. But did you know that you can introduce your baby as young as 6 months old to an open cup?

What does “open cup” mean?

An open cup is simply a cup with no lid. It may be a little messy, but drinking out of an open cup is crucial for speech development and self feeding.

Why should you introduce your child to an open cup around 6 months of age (or when they start solids)?

Cup drinking requires a different swallow pattern than bottle feeding. It requires moving the tongue front to back, which is essential for eating solid foods and making certain speech sounds.

Babies that use a bottle for an extended period (after 18 months old) or children that drink from hard spout cups may develop a forward resting tongue position. This can result in improperly developed oral structures (such as the palate, jaw, and teeth) and may negatively impact speech sounds.

How to teach open cup drinking:

  • Start with 1-2 tablespoons of breastmilk, formula, or water.
  • Place your hands over your baby’s hands on the cup.
  • Help them guide the cup to their mouth and tilt it just enough so the liquid starts to touch their lips.
  • Gently tip the cup enough until your baby is able to drink a small amount of the liquid.
  • Guide your baby’s hands to show them how to set the cup down!

*As your baby gets older, they will be able to control the motion of drinking from the cup by themselves!

What if my baby refuses to drink from the cup?

Try to keep the experience fun and positive! If your baby gets frustrated or is uninterested, try again next mealtime!

Which open cups should I use?

You can use any open cup. However, if you want a break-proof baby-safe cup, small silicone cups are easier to grip. Cups with side handles are also helpful for little hands.

Best Open Cups for Babies:

Green Sprouts Cup

1. Green Sprouts Learning Cup:

  • 100% food-safe, LFGB silicone cup with no harmful chemicals
  • Two easy-grip handles
  • Slip-resistant, wide base for stability
  • Dishwasher & sterilizer safe

Tiny Cup

2. EZPZ Tiny Cup:

  • Designed to fit baby’s mouth and hands
  • Interior angle provides even flow for safe drinking
  • Weighted base and tactile bumps provide topple resistance
  • Heat and cold safe

Eztotz My First Cup

3. Eztotz My First Cup:

  • Made in the USA
  • Soft Food Grade Silicone
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Weighted at the bottom to prevent spills
  • Ridged design helps with grip

As parents, we understand that open cups are not always practical for little ones. If you cannot use an open cup, we recommend a straw cup. The swallow pattern used when drinking from a straw is similar to that of an open cup and helps promote a mature swallow pattern as well.

Have you started cup drinking with your mini? Share your experience in the comments!

*Always refer to your pediatrician for medical needs and guidance!

About the Author
Becky Chamberlain, M.S., CCC-SLP & Stephanie Tuthill, M.A., CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologists

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