With open cups recommended as the healthy way for little ones to drink, these seven tips for sipping success can help instil this habit for life and cut down the need for buying multiple cups for different ages and stages.
[words by Sara Keel]
Good for baby health, your wallet, your kitchen cupboard, and the planet…cheers to that!
1. Small cup
Like many items designed for babies to use, it makes sense that their cup should be baby-size too. Being small in size makes a cup easier for little hands to manage and makes it less cumbersome, meaning it won’t be overly heavy when filled.
The small open drinking rim helps the liquid funnel into the mouth, reducing the chance of liquid spilling down the cheeks which is more likely when a cup is too wide (test that theory for yourself by trying drinking from a bucket. It’s not ideal for learning!).
2. See-through cup
Visual information is important for little ones when developing their eye–hand coordination and fine motor skills. Vision helps accuracy and guides movements, so it’s great to give as much visual input as possible.
When choosing a cup, look for ones that are transparent. This means little ones not only see their drink when they look over the top of the cup but they can see their drink through the sides of the cup as well.
3. The power of you
There’s never been a better excuse than weaning time to sit down for a cup of tea or a bite to eat! Mimic is so important when it comes to learning and development; modelling the behaviour you are teaching your baby is invaluable.
Parents, carers, family members and siblings can all help. Sit down with your baby, sip from your own cup to show your baby how it’s done and help them learn by seeing you drink too.
4. Just a wee drop
Start with just a tiny amount of baby’s milk or water. Just a drop is enough to start off with. The first goes with an open cup are all about getting used to it and practising. You can even start at first with an empty cup and just get your little one familiar with the feel of the cup.
Some little ones like to pick the cup up by themselves from the get go, but even if they do, be on hand to help guide the cup so it heads to the target area! Hold the cup gently together and place the edge of the cup onto baby’s bottom lip to encourage them to feel the drinking edge. Very gently tip the cup and help move the liquid towards their mouth. To help make this a gentle process it is really useful to have started with just a small amount of liquid.
6. Splish splash
A brilliant place to practice is the bath! Babies are naked and surrounded by water so it is an absolutely wonderful time to get in some extra sipping practice.
To avoid distraction and competing for attention with yummy bites to eat – and also to avoid filling baby up with liquid – offer the cup at the end of the mealtime, after baby’s food.
It might take a little time but the benefits of open cup sipping, such as supporting oral health and development, fine motor skills and independent feeding, make this a really valuable skill to gift to your little one from early on.
Open cup sipping with a mini open cup can also save money (and cupboard space!) as often little ones can just move on, when they are big enough, to whatever cups the rest of the family uses. Less products to buy means it’s planet-friendly too.
I absolutely loved seeing my own children learn to use a mini open cup when they were weaning. To see how excited and pleased with themselves they were was an absolute joy – and to know that it was good for them made it even better. Sip sip hooray!
Sara Keel is the founder of Babycup and a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood. Find out more at babycup.com, @babycuphello (Instagram, Twitter and TikTok) and BabycupUK (Facebook).