How to teach straw drinking to children with Down Syndrome

I have had a lot of questions on my FB page regarding straw drinking…specific to the type of straw cup that is most beneficial.  As I stated in a previous post….a straw sippy cup….and a traditional sippy cup..typically have an insert/valve….this will promote more of a forward tongue movement during drinking…typical to bottle drinking. 

In children with Down Syndrome…typically they present with low muscle tone…so their tongue may sit more forward in the mouth because of this low muscle tone.  Drinking correctly from a straw will help promote lingual retraction…that is why I have written about the importance of the straw kit (you can purchase through  Working on the straw kit helps with lingual retraction, decreases lingual protrusion and improves lip rounding and lip protrusion….helping your little one to draw the liquid up the straw using her lips…not her tongue…with her tongue behind the straw…and retracting back.

Many moms wrote to me saying that they found straw sippy cups without the insert….so…..If you are able to find a straw sippy cup without an insert…be sure to first try it out to make sure that your tongue is retracting….and then…use a lip block.

The lip block…can be purchased at   And it should be placed on the straw so that no more than 1/2 inch of the straw enters your little one’s mouth.  Even though the straw sippys without an insert are better than the straw sippys with an insert….I still want to be sure that the straw is not on top of her tongue…that she is not using her tongue to stabilize the straw….and that she is using lip rounding and tongue retraction while drawing up the liquid.  The lip block will help with the positioning of her tongue…will help with lingual retraction and with lip rounding. 

Hope this was helpful…please post with any questions or comments.

Have fun!


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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