Using a Straw Is Good For Your Toddler's Development — Here's What You Need to Know

When it's time to drop the bottle, some parents transition their toddler to a straw cup while others opt for a sippy cup. Both are great for messes (which, as any parent knows, toddlers are especially prone to). But which cup is better for development? POPSUGAR reached out to a pediatrician and a speech language pathologist to find out, and the experts agree: It's straw cups for the win. Here's why.

What Are the Benefits of a Straw Cup?

Brooklyn-based speech language pathologist Jocelyn M. Wood told POPSUGAR that straw drinking is an important stage of oral motor development. "The movements that are used to drink from a straw can help your child to strengthen the muscles in the lips, cheek, and jaw, which can help with the production of some very important speech sounds, such as /sh/, /ch/, and /j/," she said. Wood also pointed out that straw cups prevent dental issues associated with the use of sippy cups.

Mona Amin, MD, a pediatrician and owner of Instagram and website Pedsdoctalk, also prefers that her patients use straw cups instead of sippy cups. She cited speech-related benefits, saying that, "Toddlers should drink from a straw as it works muscles in the tongue and jaw that are more advanced and can help in speech development."

When Should I Introduce a Straw Cup?

Dr. Amin recommend starting to practice with a straw cup at 10 months of age. "Focus on providing it at meals with water due to the mess. Once they do well, you can add milk," she said. Wood said that for proper speech development, "Children should begin transitioning away from a bottle at 12 months, and a great next step is a straw cup." Time to get sipping!