We often get asked how to teach little ones to drink from a straw. Your little one may be struggling because they have tried a straw cup which has a valve in the straw and they have struggled to access the drink or because they simply haven't yet made the connection between sucking and receiving water.
Here are a couple of different methods to try, from renowned experts in the field, to help them to make that connection:-
Method 1 : Puree Method : www.mymunchbug.com
Once babies can suck soft foods off their fingers or purees from a spoon, they are ready to learn straw-drinking. Here's how:
- Dip a soft, silicone straw into a small container of smooth puree and offer it to baby by presenting it like a spoon. THis helps baby adjust to the shape of the straw in their mouth.
- Once they are comfortable and close their mouth around the straw, count to two before removing the straw. Babies will suck if you leave the straw in place for a few seconds.
- Prime the straw with one inch of puree and present it, letting baby suck what's inside. The secret to this technique? It's the puree on the outside of the straw. That's what gets baby closing his lips and then sucking.
- Once he can manage that tiny bit of puree, gradually prime more for him until he can suck, swallow and breathe as he takes multiple sips of puree via the straw.
- Cut down the straw so that one inch sticks out of the container of puree. Make sure the tip of the straw has a dab of puree on it to tempt baby to close his mouth on it. Now, hold the container for baby and let him suck on the straw.
- Smooth purees are a thickened liquid, making it so much easier to control in the mouth than something thin and runny, like water. Once baby has learned to "drink" purees comfortably, gradually water down the puree until he can manage water with ease.
- Offer straw cups with a shorter straw, so that the tip of the straw reaches the tip of your child's tongue at rest behind his front teeth.
Method 2 : Water Method : www.yourkidstable.com
First of all, try and stick a regular straw in their mouth. It is important that it’s just a good old fashioned straw with no valve, because most no spill straw cups require you to suck really really hard. A baby may try to suck and when they don’t get anything instantly, just give up. Who knows, they may take to it right away, without any help from you. More likely, they will just hold their mouth open or put their mouth on it, but won’t suck. In this case, I would try the siphon technique:
- Take the regular straw and stick it into a cup of water, so it is touching the bottom, and put your finger over the opening at the top. Keep your finger over the opening at the top so you are holding the liquid in the straw as you pull the straw out of the water, as I am doing in the picture above.
- With your baby sitting firmly in a chair, hold the straw up over their open mouth and release the liquid so it falls into their mouth, being careful not to allow too much water to go in at a time.
- Repeat this a few times, if your baby seems interested. If they aren’t up for participating, then try again on a different day. Hopefully your baby will start to close their mouth around the straw. If they aren’t, then stroke the sides of their cheeks and demonstrate so they can imitate you!
- Once they are closing their mouth around the straw, keep your finger over the other end of the straw so they have to suck to get the liquid out. Keep putting more and more water into the straw so they are sucking more and more through the straw.
- Now try putting the straw directly into the cup and letting them take a drink. Some will have figured it out at this point and won’t need any more help. If they go back to holding their mouth open, then start over and this time, when they start to suck the water out of the straw, flip the straw down into the open cup of water. This is a little tricky, you have to be fast. The idea is that you don’t break the sucking action and hopefully they start to make the connection that when they suck, they get a drink.
Good luck with your training!
Suzanne, Andrew, Izzi & Mia xxxx
Photo credits: @everleyeats_x & www.yourkidstable.com