How to teach straw drinking

When your little one is ready to transition from bottle or breast to a cup……I have some suggestions.   A regular sip-cup promotes the same forward tongue movement that a bottle does……..which can promote a child to have a lisp….using a straw-sippy cup promotes more typical movement of the tongue.  However, be sure that the straw-sippy cups do not have the insert in them.  The insert in the straw sippy cups promotes the same forward tongue movement….because your tongue actually has to move forward to pull the liquid out of the straw.

  I personally like the “First Years Take and Toss Straw Cups”.  With a cup like this….there is no valve or insert….the straw is just inside the cup….a small hole in the lid helps to keep the straw in place and reduces spilling.   This type of straw cup….requires tongue retraction when your child is pulling the liquid out of the straw…..this is much better for sound development….for tongue placement…..and for the overall development of the oral cavity.


A straw can be a bit challenging…but there are a few tips that may help your little one…..cut a straw in half……put the straw in a cup filled with the liquid……use your pointer finger to hold the liquid in the straw (by covering the hole at the other end of the straw).   Next, place the straw between your child’s lips…..and have her practice drinking….once she gets the idea of how the straw works..your next step will be….. again cut the straw in half… it in a small plastic cup……and see if she can drink the liquid….

Another favorite of mine……is the honey bear straw cup….this can be purchased on talk tools website listed above.  This type of straw cup is a great teaching tool for the little ones that are learning how to drink out of a straw… can squeeze the honey bear so that a small amount of liquid enters your child’s mouth….this will help her in learning how to drink from a straw….and also promotes tongue retraction not protrusion.


It is difficult for the little ones to understand what to do with a straw….if she is old enough to understand….”make a kiss with your lips”……ask her to do so…..then ask her to suck the air in……you may have to demonstrate what you mean by this……once she has a good handle on making a kiss with her lips and sucking in… can place the straw between her lips….and ask her to suck in……next try by placing the straw in a cup filled with a liquid…and see if she is able to use the straw to drink.


Practice in the bathtub…..use the sink water (not tub water).  Put a straw and  sink water in a small plastic cup……no worries if you make a mess……have her practice drinking from a straw.

You can also try drinking from an open cup in the bathtub……with the sink water in a small plastic cup…..this is good practice for your little one until she has mastered open cup drinking.




 Believe it or not….the fork is easier to use than a spoon for your little one.  When using a spoon…there is too much your little one has to do….first she has to put the spoon in the bowl of cereal….or yogurt….or soup….and then she has to manage the right amount on the spoon so that it does not spill off of the spoon….then pick the spoon up…bring the spoon to her mouth…and then turn her wrist just enough that she gets in her mouth.  

I tell parents to start off with the fork first….it may not be easy for her to pierce the food….rather than having her struggle with that…pierce the food for her….put the fork back on the plate…..and then have her independently feed herself.  Voila!

About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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