When Can Babies Use A Straw?

young child drinking through a straw

As your baby gets older they will reach a point where they don’t need the bottle anymore. Many parents opt for a sippy cup with a soft spout, others a 360 cup, but some choose a straw cup to encourage their infant to suck and drink liquid this way.

When should a baby start using a straw?

There’s no rush for your baby to start drinking through a straw so don’t worry if your little one can’t do it yet. Some will learn this skill from as young as 6 months, especially if they still have a strong sucking reflex. However, for most babies it’s between 9-18 months.

Are they ok for babies?

In general they are ok, but you just have to watch that they don’t suck too fast and swallow too quickly. Doing this can cause them to cough or choke a bit on the liquid if it goes down the wrong way into their lungs. As adults, swallowing seems easy for us, but even we get it wrong sometimes! If your baby chokes on some liquid using a straw once in a while that’s fine, as it takes time to learn this skill. However, if it happens regularly, particularly if they are older than 15 months you might want to check this with a paediatrician.

How do you teach a baby to drink from a straw?

Here’s a five step strategy for teaching your baby to start drinking from a straw:

  1. Put a straw in a cup of milk or water. Cover the other end with your index finger and slowly lift it out of the cup. The straw should contain some liquid but as you’re holding the other end it won’t fall out (not sure why exactly, but I think it’s something to do with atmospheric pressure pushing upwards from the bottom!)
  2. Hold the straw over your baby’s mouth and let go of your finger for a split second so a few drops of liquid go in their mouth.
  3. Repeat this process a few times and see if they are engaged and want to continue with it. If not, try again the next day.
  4. If they are still keen, try it again, put the straw in their mouth, but this time don’t let go of your finger. Hopefully your baby will suck to try and get the liquid out of the straw.
  5. If this works, put the straw into the cup and let them have a drink. Hopefully they will suck up the liquid through the straw!

An alternative method is to put a straw in a cup with a lid. Have your baby put their mouth around the straw and squeeze gently on the outside of the cup so water will go upwards through the straw.

What are straw cups?

Once your baby can start drinking through an ordinary straw, you might want to think about getting a straw cup. This makes things a lot easier for you, as you won’t have to sit with your baby all the time holding the cup and straw to stop them spilling liquid everywhere! Straw cups are designed so it’s a little harder to suck liquid up through the straw, which reduces the chances that they can choke if they drink too much.

What is a good straw cup for babies?

Here’s one you might want to consider. It has easy to hold handles and your child can drink from it at virtually any angle.

Click image for more info

When should toddlers stop using one?

There is no right time to stop using a straw cup as all toddlers are different. That being said you should try and introduce them to an ordinary cup by the time they are 2 years old.

Straw cup vs sippy cup vs 360 cup

If you’re not keen on a straw cup, you can always consider a sippy cup or a 360 cup. Here are some pros and cons of each option:

Pros and cons of straw cups

  • They encourage your baby/toddler to suck through a straw, a skill they all have to master at some point.
  • It’s better for their teeth
  • Straw cups won’t leak.
  • The main drawback is that they are harder to clean as they have various parts which you need to take apart and put in the dishwasher or wash by hand. Keeping the inside of the straw clean can be tricky. You really want to watch out for any build up mould.
  • They are also more expensive than other options.

Pros and cons of sippy cups

  • The soft silicone spout on most sippy cups makes the transition from the bottle a lot smoother, especially if you have been breastfeeding your baby.
  • Easy to clean and take apart.
  • However, ensure you only really use these at meal times as babies who drink from them for too long can take longer to wean.
  • Sippy cups also leak a little (compared to straw cups)

Pros and cons of 360 degree cups

  • Easy to clean
  • Safe for your baby’s teeth development
  • One of the best options for transitioning to an ordinary cup later on.
  • They can leak
  • These cups are a bit more difficult to use at first.
when can babies drink from a straw