When Should I Introduce a Cup to My Toddler?

Have you found yourself standing in the baby/toddler aisle at your local store feeling confused or overwhelmed by all the various cup options that are available for our children these days? It can be hard to determine where to start or which cup will support your child best for their current developmental skill level and age!

Introducing cups is important for our children to learn how to swallow liquids in a different pattern than breastfeeding or bottle feeding. But when should you start?

  • The first cup to introduce around the age of 6 months is an open cup if your child is able to demonstrate head/neck control and is beginning spoon-feeding.
    • If your child does not yet have head/neck control for sitting at 6 months of age, it is ok to wait a bit longer before attempting to introduce a cup.
  • When introducing a cup, the goal is to learn about the cup and to support our children in successfully swallowing a small amount of liquid from a cup.
  • For your child’s first introduction to an open cup, you can present the cup empty. This allows your child an opportunity to become familiar with the cup and practice holding the cup.
  • Once you give your child a small amount of water or breast milk/formula in the cup, you can use hand-over-hand support to bring the cup to your child’s mouth for a sip and back down to the table.
    • Typically, juice is not recommended as a first liquid as we want to offer liquids with less sugar content (i.e., water) or liquids that provide important caloric or nutritional content (i.e., breast milk or formula).
  • Drinking very small sips of water of breast milk/formula via an open cup supports your child in learning how to activate his/her upper lip to close on the cup edge. This skill is important to learn in preparation for straw drinking that is recommended as your child gets a bit older!

Here are examples of great open cups to try!

Otter Love
Ezpz Tiny Cup
WeeSprout Bamboo Toddler cups

  • If you are offering water via open cup, your 6 month old doesn’t need more than 1-2 ounces at sitting.
  • We don’t want to replace your child’s much needed breast milk/formula and other nutritional needs!
  • You can introduce a straw cup to your child once he/she is able to accept liquid safely with your support, as needed.

If you have any questions about introducing cups or how to best support your child’s drinking and eating skills, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Email: FLAdmin@riseservicesinc.org
Phone: (407) 904-1600


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