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Fostering Independence: The Importance of Cup Drinking for Toddlers and Choosing the Right Cups

As toddlers grow and develop, mastering new skills becomes vital to their daily lives. One such skill that holds a good deal of significance is cup drinking. In this blog post, we’ll explore the developmental benefits of cup drinking for toddlers and delve into preferred cups in occupational therapy, speech therapy, and feeding therapy.


The Developmental Milestone of Cup Drinking:

Cup drinking is a pivotal milestone in a toddler’s development as it marks the transition from bottle to cup. This transition is more than just a switch in containers; it marks greater independence and the growth of more advanced oral and bodily coordination skills. Occupational therapists are crucial in guiding toddlers through this transition, focusing on fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and self-help skills.


Speech Therapy and Cup Drinking:

Speech therapists understand the intricate connection between oral motor skills and speech development. Cup drinking engages the same muscles in speech production, making it an ideal activity to support speech development. Speech therapists work with toddlers to enhance their oral motor strength and coordination through different exercises, fostering speech and overall oral motor skills.


Feeding Therapy and Cup Preferences:

Feeding therapy professionals recognize that toddlers have unique sensory preferences and motor skills. Selecting the right cup is paramount in addressing these individual needs. Feeding therapists collaborate with parents to identify the ideal cup that facilitates a positive feeding experience for the child. However, our general recommendations focus on the following:


  1. Spout Type: Therapists generally recommend an open cup or a straw cup. Skipping over sippy cups is essential to continue developing the child’s appropriate sucking and drinking patterns.
  2. Grip and Size: The size and grip of the cup should be suitable for the toddler’s hands, promoting a comfortable and secure hold and encouraging the development of fine motor skills.
  3. Spill-Proof: Consider the general use of where the child will need to use the cup. If it’s at mealtime, maybe some spilling isn’t a huge concern – so use a small open cup. However, if they’re drinking chocolate milk on the couch, opt for a spill-proof straw cup for less mess!
  4. Flow Control: For new cup drinkers, we recommend cups with shorter and wider straws for ease of drinking. For open cups, we recommend small cups to maximize oral control and minimize spilling.


Some great cup options include:

  1. Olababy Silicone Training Cup with Straw Lid
  2. EZ PZ Mini Cup + Straw Training System
  3. GROSMIMI Spill Proof No Spill Magic Sippy Cup with Straw
  4. Munchkin Any Angle Weighted Straw Trainer Cup
  5. Nosey Cups (Cut Out Cups)
  6. ARK’s Bear Bottle Kit For Straw Drinking


Cup drinking is a developmental milestone that opens the door to independence for toddlers. Occupational, speech, and feeding therapists collaborate to guide children through this journey, tailoring interventions to meet individual needs. By understanding the importance of cup drinking and selecting the proper cups, we can empower toddlers to embrace their new coordination skills and develop into independent eaters and drinkers!