Bye bye bottle!
Some of the key oral-motor skills that shape how soon your child is able to show off his ability to chew (okay, maybe just munch at first) and drink at the family table are jaw and lip dissociation, jaw stability, and the all important tongue retraction (backward movement of the tongue). When drinking out of a bottle you will notice that the child’s tongue tends to move forward. This is appropriate for infants under 12 months of age. In contrast, drinking out of an open cup requires the tongue to do just the opposite- retract back, which is a skill that becomes more refined over time and well into adulthood. While it’s a personal and sometimes sensitive issue, we advise against waiting too long to start weaning your little one off the bottle. A 12 month mark is usually a safe time to try an open cup for most typically developing infants. In fact L. Overland recommends attempting a cut out cup at as early as 9 months, provided there is proper parental support. But what about soppy cups? Well, most feeding specialist will agree that while certainly convenient and often preferred, a sippy cup should only be a transitionary drinking container as much like the bottle it encourages that unwanted forward movement of the tongue (that we aim to work against passed the first birthday!). Of course, always talk to your pediatrician before making any changes to the way your little one accepts liquids and seek a feeding evaluation from a qualified feeding therapist if you suspect a difficulty or a delay.