straw cup vs sippy cup

Sippy Cup vs Straw Cup

Hey Mommies! Anywhere from 4-6 months, it’s okay to start introducing a cup. This will help get your baby exposed to something other than the bottle and make the transition from bottle to cup easier down the road. But should you teach your child to use a sippy cup or go straight to a straw cup?

It may sound surprising, and you may think that 5 or 6 months is way too early to start, but I would highly recommend going straight to a straw cup instead of a sippy.

If you insist on using a sippy cup or just have a personal preference to using one, I’d start a sippy cup around 4-5 months old. Here are some tips for picking out your baby’s first sippy cup.

A sippy cup will in fact prepare your baby for something new and develop new oral motor skills. However, I’d strongly recommend switching to or at least starting to introduce a straw cup by 6 months, and this is why.

1. There’s no reason why your child NEEDS to use a sippy cup. It’s just a way to get kids transitioned to something other than a bottle. Eventually, you will have to wean your child off of a sippy cup which leads me to #2.

2. Your child can’t use a sippy cup forever. At some point they will have to move from a sippy to a straw or open cup. If your child gets used to only using a sippy cup, you’re going to have to go through another weaning process of getting your child off the sippy. If you start with a straw, you eliminate this step.

3. A straw is more functional, readily available, and a life long skill. Your child will continue to use a straw into adulthood. Straws and straw cups are found out in public almost anywhere which makes it easier and more convenient when taking your child out. If you accidentally forget your child’s cup, there’s no need to turn around and rush back home.

4. Straw drinking requires a lot of oral motor control which helps develop stronger oral motor skills. Strong oral motor skills can help with better speech and sound production. Sippy cups do not require the same level of oral motor control as straws.

straw cup vs sippy cup

It’s up to you as a parent to decide what you think is best for your child, but I can tell you from personal experience with multiple babies, it’s possible to teach them to drink from a straw and is really a lot easier in the long run.

If you’re ready to give straw drinking a try, here are some tips to teach straw drinking to get your started!

By: Emily Bettis, MOT/L

Emily Bettis, MOT/L is a pediatric occupational therapist and mother. She has been working with children birth-5 since 2008 and has been a mother since 2013. Emily is the founder and author HeyMommies.com

15 thoughts on “Sippy Cup vs Straw Cup

  1. I wish I could have read this post 2 and a half years ago!!My daughter had to make the second transition from sippy cup to straw. It definitely would have been much easier had we started with a straw cup. This post is going to be very helpful and informative for parents! ! Xx

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback! I find this to be the case with a lot of kids I work with. I’m working on a post that will go over how to teach straw drinking at such a young age. Hopefully it will help a lot of parents. 🙂

  2. Your timing on this is perfect! We were just discussing that it seemed so early to start on cups, and I was leaning toward a sippy. Sounds like straw will be a better way to go.

  3. What are your thoughts on the newer “natural” cups? Munchin and Avent have one, where they put their mouth on the rim like a open cup, but use additional pressure to get the water out.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Jen! They are a good option too. I would just be sure to still introduce and teach a straw because it’s a great way to build oral motor strength and control which can help with speech sounds. 🙂

  4. We went straight to an open cup with handles and it worked well for us but you do have to be aware of spills to start with. The problem is he finds it difficult to use long straws now and I hadn’t really thought about it until he tried some of my Apple juice one day from a straw.

    Great informative post, I think we’ll try the in between draw stage with number 2 x

    1. Hi Gerry! I don’t have any other favorites. It’s all I’ve really used because they work and are easy to find. However, when it comes to initially teaching, you can use any type of hard plastic straw or something that would allow you to squeeze some into their mouth. After that, any type of straw cup you want to try would be fine.

  5. Great info, Emily – I hope it’s OK that I print this and use it with parents. The only problem is the presence of a babywalker in the second picture. I imagine you know all the reasons to avoid those. If not, I would be happy to share some propaganda. –

    1. Hi Gary! Thanks and of course it’s ok! Please, just make sure it has they HeyMommies URL on it :)… And yes, I’m very aware of the concerns and issues with walkers. Thanks for offering to share some info, though!

  6. Have you read any information from Sarah Rossenfeld Johnson from Talk Tools.net? As a speech pathologist who does feeding therapy as well as speech therapy . I see giving kids straw cups too early- as a way to reinforce a suckling pattern to drink. By using an open cup, it requires increased jaw stabilization and tongue jaw separation skills needed for speech. I see sippy cups as transitional to an open cup. Not something they drink from after they are 2 years of age.

    1. I hadn’t but I looked her up because every speech therapist and OT I’ve talked to has agreed that straw drinking is much more beneficial than a sippy cup due to promoting lip rounding, tongue retraction, and overall stronger oral motor skills. I found this article from Sarah Rossenfeld Johnson that also goes over that. http://speech-language-pathology-audiology.advanceweb.com/Article/Part-I-Straws-Using-Simple-Tools-in-Oral-Motor-Therapy.aspx Of course you don’t want a child to use their tongue to drink from a straw. You want them to retract the tongue and use their lips. If they are drinking with their tongue then that would need to be addressed.

  7. Thank you. This completely validated every reason I went from a bottle to a straw with my little ones. I work in a preschool and know about transitions and his hard some are. In the adult world they do not have sippy cups, and one less transition is always a good thing. Thank you again for sharing this article.

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