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Guest Post: And Now a Word About Cup Drinking

In today’s guest post,  Natalie Romanchukevich discusses the importance of cup drinking. So without further ado here is what she has to say on this subject.

As I do my home- based evaluation or treatment visits, I often notice that many of my 2 and3 year olds still drink out of a bottle, when developmentally, they should be using cups and straws to drink.

While some parents do not want to engage in the process of weaning their child off the much beloved liquids container, others do not realize the importance of introducing a more “mature” way of drinking.

Cup drinking is repeatedly emphasized in Lori Overland’s feeding seminars. In short, in the first few years of life your child’s oral- motor mechanism matures every single  month. Sometimes you may see changes in how the child bites, chews, or drinks within weeks.  Important oral- motor skills that shape how your child eats and drinks include: jaw stability, jaw and lip dissociation (separation), and the all important tongue retraction (pulling back).

When drinking out of a bottle (or even a sippy cup!) beyond the age when its appropriate, the child’s tongue tends to move forward vs. pulling back.  This may adversely impact tongue posture at rest (tongue rests more forward in the mouth, almost thrust – like) and when speaking.  In contrast as soon as the cup touches the child’s mouth, they will attempt to initiate cup drinking by retracting the corners of their lips, attaining greater jaw stability, as well as retracting tongue to allow the liquid to enter the mouth.

These important changes help your child’s oral- motor development and feeding skills progress accordingly. There is evidence suggesting that these improved movements and refined feeding skills are also responsible for more refined speech skills (Overland, feeding therapy: a sensory-motor approach, p.27)! And it sure makes sense because the lips come together to produce a number of sounds such as /m/, /b/, /p/ in addition to holding and stabilizing the cup for successful drinking.

Overland talks about introducing the cut-out cup at as early as 9 months of age given appropriate positioning and parent support.   So if your children are the right age but are still drinking from the bottle consider introducing cup drinking to stabilize and refine their oral movements.  Happy cup drinking!


Natalie Romanchukevich has a MS in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Long Island University (LIU) as well as Bilingual (Russian/English) Certification, which allows her to practice speech- language pathology in both Russian and English. Following graduation, Natalie has been working with both monolingual and bilingual 0- 5 population in New York City, and has been an active advocate for preschoolers with disabilities in her present setting.  Natalie’s clinical interests and experience have been focused on  early childhood speech- language delays and disorders including speech disorders (e.g., Articulation, Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Autistic Spectrum Disorders,  Auditory Processing Disorders, Specific Language Impairment (SLI), as well as Feeding Disorders.


3 thoughts on “Guest Post: And Now a Word About Cup Drinking

  1. You took the words right out of my mouth! Thank you Natalie and Tatyana! Sharing 🙂

  2. What age do you recommended moving away from sippy cups? And what about pacifiers? Thanks!

    1. Deborah,
      Children are ready to drink from a cup when they can do 2 things:
      1. Seal their lower lip on the cup
      2. Can sit without assistance
      In typically developing children cup readiness develops between 6-7 months of age and continues to refine as they age. If you want to give them a little more time on a bottle you can certainly do so. However, between 9-12 months they should definitely be introduced to cup drinking and by 12 months, bottle should be hopefully out of the picture for the most part.

      9 months of age is also a pretty good time for weaning off babies off pacifier since this is the time they they learn to self-soothe.

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