We’ve always used a range of cups for Eli ever since he started baby led weaning, including an open cup as well as sippies and straw cups. A few weeks ago though, we transitioned to using plastic beakers full-time when in the house.
Using an open cup is better for a baby’s teeth and it’s a skill they need to learn. It made sense to me to introduce it early so he’s had lots of practise since he was 6 months old. I should note, I do still use a sippy or straw cup if we’re out and about so I can chuck it in the bag with no worries about spilling.
What kind of cup?
For young weaning babies I’d recommend a very small “shot glass” sized open cup, like the Babycup* (which we used and loved). You can just use an actual shot glass if you have one already. I’ve been reading a lot about the Montessori approach and was interested to see it’s recommended babies use real glass from the get-go.
You could also use a Doidy Cup which is bigger, has handles and also slopes. It’s easier for them to see what they’re doing and they don’t need to tilt it as much. With its bigger size, you’ll likely need to help hold the cup for some time, but a lot of parents really swear by them.
For a toddler who’s already been using a sippy cup, try taking the lid off their existing cup. You could also buy plastic toddler beakers instead – or again, just teach them to drink from small glass tumblers with your supervision.
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Get started with open cups
- Practise makes perfect. The more practise your baby gets, the sooner they’ll master the skills they need to drink from an open cup without spilling.
- Help them hold it. It’ll be quite a while before your child doesn’t need a helping hand. Help steady the cup when they need it. At the start you might want to put the cup down for them after each mouthful as they won’t know how to place it carefully on the table rather than drop it.
- Teach your child that the cup isn’t a toy. Be firm on deliberate throwing and pouring, especially as they get older, and remove the cup if they’re playing with it rather than drinking.
- Be gentle on mistakes. If it’s an accidental spill rather than deliberate throwing, be patient. Your child will take a very long time to learn to use the cup and spills are inevitable. Even adults knock their glass over from time to time so don’t make a big deal when it happens.
- Allow your child to help you clean up. Keep a cloth at your table for mopping up spilled water. It’s a great habit to get even young weaning babies helping wipe their own spills.
- Eat together. Your baby learns from watching you and other adults and they’ll see you modelling drinking at shared meals.
- You don’t need to stop at just drinking – teach them to pour their own water from a jug early too. Eli has his own little jug and loves to pour himself a drink. Check this blog post for a great way to introduce pouring for young babies.
Do you use an open cup with your baby or toddler? How did you introduce it? Do you – or your toddler – have a favourite type of cup to use?