Did you know babies can – and should! – start drinking from an open-lid cup around 6 months? Yes, you heard us right – a cup with no lid! We know it sounds risky (and like a total mess!), but babies will learn how to close their lips appropriately on something besides a breast or bottle if you introduce an open-lid cup early on.
Written By: Jessica Diamond, MPH, RDN
Did you know babies can – and should! – start drinking from an open-lid cup around 6 months? Yes, you heard us right – a cup with no lid! We know it sounds risky (and like a total mess!), but babies will learn how to close their lips appropriately on something besides a breast or bottle if you introduce an open-lid cup early on. This will help them with oral-motor development and will allow them to practice the skill of drinking from a cup, which gets them ready to wean from the bottle and/or breast in just a few short months. And having your child drink small amounts of water also helps with digestion and constipation, which you may see more of once you introduce them to solid foods.
Introducing Open-Lid Cups
Around 6 months, provide your baby with an open-lid cup during meals while they are in a highchair and sitting upright. Help them take a couple sips of water from the cup by holding it up to their mouth and tilting the cup back slightly for a second or two. Give them a couple sips like this with each meal.
In the beginning, the water may dribble down their face, but with practice, they will learn how to drink from the cup. Any smaller, open cup will work, including a shot glass. (Just remember that if a shot glass falls off their tray, it can shatter.) Shop our favorite open-lid cup here!
Remember, you want your baby to take only a couple sips of water with each meal because you don’t want water to displace formula and/or breastmilk intake. But it’s smart to fill a tiny cup all the way up so they don’t have to tip the cup upside down to get water out. Eventually, your baby will start to pick up the cup on their own and drink the water without your help.
Moving Up to Straw Cups
Once your kid has learned how to take sips from an open lid cup, it’s time to expose them to a straw cup. It may seem easy to drink from a straw, but it’s something your baby has to explicitly learn. We’ve loved teaching our kids how to drink using this Honey Bear Cup. When you squeeze the bear’s belly, water shoots out of the straw, which teaches your baby that there is water inside the cup that they need to suck up. Once your baby is able to drink from the Honey Bear Cup without squeezing the belly, they are ready to drink from any straw cup.
Once your child has mastered the straw cup, they can go back and forth between open-lid and straw cups! Be sure to watch their water intake because babies around 6 months of age should have no more than 1-2 ounces of water per day. You don’t want them to fill up on water when breastmilk and formula are their main source of nutrition in the first 12 months of life!
Disclaimer: You may be wondering why we don’t encourage the use of sippy cups. We recommend avoiding hard-spout sippy cups or transitional nipples because they have been shown to inhibit proper muscle development in the mouth. Even the Munchkin 360 cup, which we used to recommend because it was a nice, spill-proof cup, has been shown to create muscle imbalances in kids’ mouths. Open-lid and straw-cup feeding is so important for your baby and kid, so just stick with those! And remember this caveat: this is for typically developing kids, and some kids with disabilities need alternative cups as part of feeding therapy. So remember, every kid and situation is different!
Want to learn more about feeding your baby? Take our Feeding your Baby Solids Course. It will help you thrive when it comes to feeding your baby and soon-to-be toddler. Through a series of short videos that you can watch on your own time – even while doing dishes! – we give you ALL the practical information you need to raise a non-picky, independent eater. We cover it all – cup drinking step-by-step, purees versus baby-led weaning and combination feeding, what to feed your baby and when, the most helpful baby signs, high-allergen foods, food to avoid, and recipes to start with to name a few. You’ll leave the course with easy-to-use info and the confidence to embrace this meaning-full milestone. For babies 3+ months.
And check out our podcast episode, Feeding Your Baby Solids: Breaking Down the Myths for even more practical information!