How to teach baby to drink from a cup
Read on if you want to know which cup we decided it was the best for our baby, when to offer water and how to teach a baby to drink water from a cup in 4 easy steps that worked for us! Hopefully they will work for you too!
[Do not offer water to baby before 6 months if you’re breastfeeding, not even in hot weather. Breast milk alone offers enough hydration (and boosts immunity as well!) being made up of 80% water.]
One of the things that I constantly read about on the Facebook weaning groups that I am a member of is the frustration of moms who cannot teach baby to drink water from a cup.
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I am far from being an expert in types of cups or beakers, however I do have some suggestions:
- I avoided any type of drinking accessory that involved baby sucking from a teat. Why? Because babies need to learn how to sip: it’s better for their teeth if they don’t constantly suck on a teat. Plus, they won’t ever kick the habit of sucking for comfort if they munch at it for the sake of munching.
2. If you do have this option to choose, please choose a no-spill cup. Especially in the first months, babies tend to drop things from their highchairs, from a height and so on. If you have a carpet where your highchair is, like we do, then have pity on that poor carpet!
At first, we started with this cup. It was great because our Emma could easily hold it with her hands (she was in the phase of reaching towards stuff to grab). Then we moved on to this cup, which has a slightly bigger capacity but no handles. Emma was already good at drinking from the first one so we just made sure to buy it in the same colour so she knows what she should do with it.
Why the switch? My husband washed the first cup just beneath the rubber part on top and noticed there was a bit of mould underneath! So word of advice: make sure you separate all component parts from time to time and wash thoroughly!
This could have happened with any cup, so it didn’t affect our opinion on it (we bought a second one from the same brand, go figure!). It is the only one I would totally recommend, especially because it fits my two recommendations above. And it’s truly a miracle!
A word or two on water
Now, water is really not a hard subject to tackle. It’s just… water, right?
Well… kind of.
I remember at first we used to boil tap water because we live in this area where the water is hard. Like you can actually see white spots on our dishes after they dry. So we boiled it until Emma turned one. That’s when we decided we should go for the bottled one.
In fact, there is no need to boil, according to this source.
Another source mentions the ingredients that we need to look at on bottled water to make sure it’s appropriate for baby to drink. You must check the sodium (Na) and sulphates (SO or SO4) levels to make sure they’re below 200 and 250 milligrams per litre, respectively.
A word or two on when to offer water
Now that we agreed to wait until baby starts solids to give her water, let’s deal with the ‘when’ part.
We offer Emma water throughout the day, not only at mealtimes. Think of yourself. Do you drink only when you’re eating or several times per day when you’re thirsty? Why would babies be any different?
I know there’s this belief that water during meals might hurt digestion or even make you feel full when in fact you’re not, but I do not believe this is the case. I actually give Emma water during her meals because I want the food to “go smoother down the pipe”, as she often complains of having small pieces stuck to her palate. Not only this, but I strongly believe it also helps with constipation.
How to teach baby to drink from a cup – the fun part
You’ve read all the way to here, that’s great! Now let me tell you how we taught Emma to drink water from the cup. Or better said, how my husband taught her.
Yes, you read that correctly. It’s one of the things I didn’t show to her and daddy was the one who took over. I asked him what his secret was and so I thought of writing this post for the rest of you struggling out there.
Here are some basic steps to follow and repeat for at least a couple of days.
Step 1: leave it to somebody else
Like I said above, daddy was the one who successfully taught Emma to drink water by herself.
It’s worth leaving your better half to handle this endeavour. Or it might be one of the grandparents or your nanny if you have one. It must me someone the baby is familiar with, though, not some random person she sees once in a while.
Baby needs to trust that person and be curious at the same time. “Hmm…what is that thing he’s holding? Wow, it has handles!”
Remember: spark the curiosity in them, but inspire confidence enough for baby to reach out and see/try for herself!
Step 2: choose your timing
This is an important one in all aspects of weaning.
You don’t want baby to be tired, hungry, half-awake, drowzy, crying, taking a poo or in any state that is not fit for the purpose.
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Well.. that doesn’t leave us with much space to work with! Except…when it’s playtime!
I found that when she’s in a playful mood, singing, babbling to herself etc, Emma is willing to have a go at stuff I’m showing to her.
The moment when she actually took a few sips of water from the cup was in fact a moment when she was happily playing in her crib and daddy was reaching over to her with the cup.
Step 3: show and tell
Now that you’ve found the perfect timing, show her the cup, wriggle it a bit for her to hear the sound of the water inside and put the cup to her lips.
Do not put the cup into her mouth by force or anything, let the baby have a go.
Little secret: we didn’t know how to drink from the cup either when we bought it! We thought it was broken! We had to search on Youtube and figure out the miracle system!
Baby might just nibble at the edge, take a bite at it or maybe ignore it altogether.
Or maybe, just maybe… She’ll suck on the edge! Which is exactly what she knows how to do best and exactly the mechanism of the cup itself!
One tip: try drinking water from a bottle in front of baby. She will be curious to see what is it that you are doing and might be willing to have a go. A cup isn’t always the best magnet for babies. Try shot glasses, normal glasses, open cups, anything.
Step 4: repeat
Baby might not figure it out on the first try. It would actually be surprising if she did.
Try to repeat steps 1 to 3 above anytime she is in her playful mood and happily doing something else.
Offer the cup at mealtimes too, just to give her a hint it’s something connected to food and get her accustomed to the cup.
Yey! You managed to teach your baby how to drink water from a cup! Now that’s an accomplishment that deserves a medal!
But wait! She’s not swallowing it!
Babies will spill the water out and over themselves in the beginning. That is perfectly ok and you should be ready to change some clothes/sheets/etc until she learns to master the skill of drinking.
Besides, breastmilk still is the best source of hydration for them so they won’t risk dehydration while they learn how to drink from a cup.
As with solid foods, patience is the key. As a mother, we often do not have time to chase our little ones with a cup in the hope that they will be interested in drinking from it. This is why step 1 above might just be the one that breaks the ice for your family.
What is your experience with cups and water to babies? Let me know in the comments if you have some special inside tip to share!
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