How To Teach Your Baby To Drink From A Straw

Teaching your kids to drink from a straw is what we highly recommend. It helps to enhance the feeding skills and also give sensory stimulation. Yes, the straw holds that much power.

Learning how to teach your baby to drink from a straw is vital for many reasons. You must know the difference between a spout-shaped sippy mug is almost the same as sucking drinks from a bottle. This, in any way, is not boosting the skills of your kids much.

Here, the role of straw begins. To simplify, drinking from the straw needs the support of various muscles. Well, the muscles they will use to drink from straw are the same muscles they would require to manipulate food for putting inside their mouth better. Moreover, it will also expand speech sounds.  

You might think that your kids will eventually obtain these skills. Nonetheless, if you introduce them with skills like drinking from straws in early age, then trust us, you are establishing a stronger foundation for them. Your kids can also master these types of skills shortly.  

Additionally, using a straw for drinking puts on sensory response. The force that goes behind sipping from the straw can be very soothing and organising.

Steps To Teach Your Baby How To Drink From A Straw

Know how to teach your baby to drink from a straw within a few minutes by using any of these fun tricks easily.

Dip the straw in a cup and tightly close the lid and place the straw in the mouth of your baby. Now you need to squeeze that cup, and you will see that the water goes right into their mouth. Be gentle as you don’t wish the baby to get much in a single attempt.

Promote the stroking on their cheeks if they do not keep their mouth closed. You can also teach your babies how to use straws. Teach them by filling the straw and putting his/her index finger on the straw end so that it holds the liquid inside. Lastly, ask them to sip it in their mouth.

See how the baby learns to figure out this skill and realise that he/she has to drink using the straw. Accordingly, keep them in practice by giving them their preferred drinks.

Another Trick To Teach Your Baby To Drink From A Straw

In this trick, we will do a task analysis by breaking the task into small steps. Not everyone can learn faster or learn the whole task together. For them, we need to fragment the task so that they master overtaking baby steps.

  1. To begin with, reduce a regular straw into two halves. This will make the height of the straw shorter for the convenience of your child. The child will find it easy to handle and take less effort to suck liquid from it. Again, try to use a wider straw if your baby finds it difficult to sip from a thin straw.
  2. Now, dip the half straw into a cup having liquid food liked by your child. Make sure it is touching the bottom of the mug.
  3. Then put the tip of your index finger on top of that straw to retain the liquid inside the straw. After that, remove the straw from the cup with your fingertip covering the top of the straw.
  4. Finally, put the straw between your kid’s lips at the tilted angle. When you tilt downwards, the straw will release the liquid inside the mouth even if you leave your finger. Also, be a little more careful in checking that the flow of liquid is not too much at a time.
  5. Repeat these steps a few more times if your baby seems to enjoy the new activity. If the baby is not enjoying the process, then try to teach them again on a different day. The baby will only learn quickly and retain the skill if he/she likes it.

Following these steps, the baby will learn how to close their mouth to keep the straw. But if your baby still did not get it, then stroke the sides of the cheeks and illustrate. They will imitate you.

  1. Once they learn to close the mouth around a straw, hold the other end side of the straw with your finger. Doing so, the baby will have to suck more to receive the liquid out in the mouth.
  2. After the baby has learned these steps, try to dip the straw directly into the mug and allow your baby to take a sip. Slowly remove your finger so your baby can begin sucking to get the liquid from the straw.

At this point, some of the babies may not require further help. But if they move back to open their mouth, then start from the first step. 

When they adopt the skill, flip down the straw into an open cup having water. The intention here is to maintain the sucking activity.

Besides, you can make your baby perform the exercises related to the lip closure like pinching or stretching the lips may help. This will encourage the baby to learn the skill with fewer obstacles.

Practice, practice and practice to master the drinking from the straw skills. Proceed until the baby realises that he/she has to suck the straw to get the liquid. When the baby has understood it, progress with a regular straw that is whole and not cut into halves.

This may be going to a time-taking process. Stay calm and keep supporting and offering positive reinforcement at this time. To advance the difficulty level, once the child learns to sip with a straw, give smoothies or milkshakes of their choice. Remember, if the drink is thick, it requires more effort.

We must always acknowledge the fact that every child is unique, and they grow and learn at a different pace of time. Some babies may master the skill quicker than the rest. The rest may require many sessions to practice. Still, if this approach isn’t helping your baby to learn to drink from a straw, then we have another trick.

When Can Babies Drink from a Straw?

First, let us talk about the appropriate age. Many occupational therapists recommend following the ideal age to acquaint kids with different skills. To teach them how to drink from a straw is appropriate when the baby reaches 9 months.

Generally, the kids figure out how to perform the skill by the age of 2 years on their own. Some kids may take longer, and some might learn early. So, there is nothing to brag about or feel ashamed or frustrated.

How do Babies Drink From A Straw

Place a silicone straw in a small mug of smoothie with a spoon and give it to your baby. This will allow the baby to get adjusted to the straw in their mouth. When they feel comfortable to close their mouth sipping the straw, start counting for 2 secs and remove the straw.

The babies will start sucking the straw if you leave the straw in their mouth for some seconds. Coat with one-inch puree on the straw and offer it to your baby and ask him/her to suck the inside.

Do you know how it works? The tip of the straw has puree on it to tempt your baby to close the mouth. As the puree is outside the straw, your baby needs to close lips to suck inside. Once he manages to gulp the puree, gradually coat more and more. Continue the process until your baby can take a sip, swallow it, and breathe as he/she sips the puree multiple times through the straw.

As the baby drinks the puree comfortably, slowly make the drink runny until the baby can drink even plain water with ease.

Should babies drink from a straw?

If it is fine to give straws to your kid for drinking, not only depends on the kid’s age but also based on the other factors. The ability of your child and his/her medical history is important to understand the developmental condition. Also, the skill level, gross and fine motor and oral function, fondness all play a major role in learning and retaining the learnt skill.

A baby may have a developmental delay in the oral, gross, and fine motor skills. Also, some babies can have delayed head/neck and trunk stability. Try to introduce them with the skill to get success in sucking the straw.

Must Read: How to Deal with a Child’s Temper Tantrum

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I introduce the baby with a straw cup or a sippy cup?

The transition of your baby from the baby bottle to a sippy cup depends on the baby’s oral structure, motor endurance and activity and language development. There are vast options for sippy cups, including hard or soft spouts or a straw cup.

Among these types, we recommend you to choose a straw cup analysing the above activities. A straw cup helps to strengthen lips, tongue and cheeks in improving the tongue position for future speech development. Using sippy cups also helps in learning the proper swallowing pattern.

Contrary to this, a sippy cup promotes a forth-tongue resting position. The frontal lingual helps in positioning the tongue between the teeth for production of syllabic sounds like /s/ and /z/. Sucking through a sippy cup furthermore stimulates the tongue to improve the swallow pattern.

You can also make the learning process enjoyable by customising the straw cup. Then you can gently squeeze the drink up from the straw for your baby to drink. Continue prompting until he/she can do it independently.

How to Introduce a Cup?

Ideally, a baby learns to drink from a cup between the age of 6-9 months. You can teach your baby either with a sippy cup or to use an open-cup independently.

Remember, this is only the practice time. Your baby will gradually learn to use a sippy cup alone by the time he/she reaches 1 year. Though, the baby may take around 18 months to independently use an open-cup.

To introduce drinking from the cup, first, you need to say goodbye to the baby bottles. Begin with the noontime bottle and then extend on to twilight and morning bottles. Replace the bedtime bottle at last.

Avoid drinking at bedtime as there is no medical recommendation to fill babies’ stomach before they sleep. Replace all the bottles by the age of 18 months.

Another engaging way to introduce cups to your babies is in the cold-turkey style. When your baby reaches 1 year, describe to them that today is the day when we are going to say goodbye to bottles. After saying bye, ask them to say hello to the big cups.

How to Choose Sippy cups?

You need to keep a few points in mind before buying the sippy cups for your babies. What you choose today will impact your babies tomorrow.

If your baby uses sippy cups with spouts for a prolonged period, then the baby may learn a wrong sucking way. Before your baby reaches age 1, he/she uses a sucking pattern to swallow liquid foods and some soft solids. Later, your baby will require a different sucking pattern to intake various types of solids.

What are the drawbacks of sippy cups?

Although the sippy cups help in the initial growing stages, still there are some drawbacks that you must not neglect. Many paediatricians highly recommend not to use them for a long time as constant sip is not suitable for the growing teeth of a baby. It may cause tooth decay or oral motor delay and even lower hunger pangs.

Final Thought

Teaching babies daily living activities are challenging. Not every child learns at the same time or by using the same process. So, being their parents, you must learn to modify like the way they will be able to understand better. Knowing them will help you pick the best possible way of how to teach your baby to drink from a straw.

So, we would recommend these different tricks that you can use to make your baby master over drinking from the straw quickly and efficiently.

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