A Montessori weaning is a great way to start introducing how to drink as the next step from nursing or bottle feeding. Knowing what cup options there are, how to use them with your baby or toddler, and when to start are important steps to getting your baby to drink from an open cup independently.
What is a weaning cup?
A weaning cup is a small cup without a lid. The first cup that you would introduce to a baby would be an open cup. A weaning cup is small, about the size of a shot glass holding 2 ounces. A baby will be able to hold onto a cup of this size and bring it to their mouth (with lots of practice!) A Montessori weaning cup is often glass. Now I know that sounds scary and maybe like a bad idea, but there is a good reason behind it.
In Montessori, we can prepare the environment to provide feedback to the child on their movements. When they are using glass objects, and drop the cup, it will break. There is a natural consequence to their action. By the glass breaking they have just gotten feedback from their actions. A toddler may even then help in the process of cleaning up, like getting the dustpan.
When To Begin Using a Cup
Typically around 6 months of age is a good time to begin introducing drinking from an open cup. It will take months of practice before your baby can do it on their own. I tried to do it 1 time a day when we were first starting solids. You can offer breastmilk or formula as well as thin purres such as soup. It is best to start with thicker liquids, which breastmilk is over water. As we had more times in the day that they were eating I tried to offer it multiple times a day. They very quickly got the hang of it and will show you how capable they are!
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How to Use a Weaning Cup
When you are ready to introduce the weaning cup here is what you can do.
- Have your baby seated in their high chair or weaning table. Sit next to or across from your baby so that they can see your face.
- Fill the weaning cup with 1 – 2 ounces of breastmilk or formula. I like to have the liquid in a small pitcher and show my baby how I pour it into the cup.
- Either with that cup or a different but similar-looking cup, model how to bring the cup to your mouth with both hands, take a sip, and return it to the table.
- Next, offer the cup of liquid to your baby. Hold the cup out in front of them and wait for them to reach out to it. They may bring it to their mouth on their own. Either way, you can help guide it to their mouth and help to rest the rim of the cup on their bottom lip.
- Help return the cup to the table. Repeat this process as much as the baby is showing interest.
Options for Purchasing Cups for Babies and Toddlers
You can purchase some of these specific cups that work great as a weaning cup or use a shot glass that you already have! I’ll share why I like some of these options.
This would be my top recommendation. Here’s why I like it. First, it is very affordable and comes in a pack of 6 so you have some backups in case one, or two…or three breaks. They are made from tempered glass which makes them better for many reasons. Tempered glass is more durable becuase of this and when it breaks it shatters into small chunks rather than small shards of glass that are jagged. Overall this is a safer glass option and the perfect size for starting out with a weaning cup!
ezpz Tiny Cup
The EzPz Tiny Cup is a wonderful Montessori weaning cup option. It is made of food-grade silicone that is BPA, BPS, PVC, phthalate, and latex-free. It holds 2 ounces. The cup is angled on the inside which helps with an even flow of the liquid. One aspect of this cup I have liked, especially for the weaning process is the weighted base and tactile bumps that help it to not topple over easily. We have used this cup in addition to glass shot glasses in our home.
If you are looking for natural materials but don’t want to do glass, these stainless steel shot glasses may work perfectly! They are durable and perfect for tiny hands. Keep in mind that they won’t have that same element of feedback if they drop, but they will still offer a wonderful open-cup experience for a baby.
Why an Open Glass Cup vs. a Sippy Cup
Open-cup or straw drinking is recommended by most feeding experts these days. In this episode of the Baby Led Weaning Made Easy podcast by Katie Ferraro, she talks with Dawn Winkelmann, MS, CCC-SLP who is a speech-language pathologist and pediatric swallowing expert. She was part of the product design of the EzPz Tiny Cup. They discuss why they don’t like the 360 cups and recommend open-cup drinking vs sippy cups.
Baby-Led Weaning In Our Montessori Home
We have been using the baby-led weaning approach to starting solids in our home with our twins. Here are our baby-led weaning Montessori essentials! Everything from our Montessori weaning cup to plates, bowls, and bibs! Not sure if baby-led weaning is right for you and your baby? Check out this blog post about baby-led weaning vs. purres.