Moving to a beaker from a bottle is a big change for your toddler. It teaches them the important skill of drinking from a rim instead of a teat or spout. Toddlebox health and nutrition expert Annemarie Bennett takes you through the why, when and what of toddlers’ drinking habits.
WHY USE A BEAKER NOT A BOTTLE?
Moving your toddler from a bottle onto a lidless beaker helps to:
- Prevent tooth decay. Teats and spouts increase the contact between fluids and the surface of the teeth. This increases the risk of tooth decay.
- Improve fine motor skills. Drinking from a lidless beaker encourages good hand-eye coordination.
- Encourage speech development. Your little one should learn to sip, not suck, drinks from as early an age as possible. This develops muscles important for talking. Removing teats and spouts also gives them more chances to practise speaking.
- Prevent drinking too much fluid. Your toddler can easily carry around bottles and lidded cups, causing them to drink too much. This is a common cause of poor appetite amongst toddlers. With a lidless beaker, you can easily keep track of how much they are drinking.
WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO USE A BEAKER?
From six months of age onwards, you can begin to gradually use a beaker. By their first birthday, aim to be finished with bottles and using non-lidded beakers instead. When you start using beakers stick with it! The aim is to have removed all bottles by their first birthday. Don’t worry if they miss their bottle. This is temporary and it will pass!
HOW TO GET FROM BOTTLE TO BEAKER
If you prefer not to begin with a lidless beaker, start with a lidded beaker with a non-valved, free-flowing spout. This will help them get used to a more free-flowing drink. This is a short-term measure, and should last no longer than a couple of weeks. When they are confidently drinking from a free-flow spout, give them a small amount of water or milk in a beaker without a lid. Drinking from a rim takes practice. Stay positive and show them how it’s done.
Top tips for beakers!
- Use it at least 30 minutes before your toddler’s meal.
- Make sure you have plenty of time to deal with spills or damp clothes.
- Have a cup of water yourself, so you can show them how to drink from a rim.
- Get all family members to drink from cups at mealtimes because your toddler will copy the behaviour they see around them.
WHAT TYPE OF BEAKER IS BEST?
The ideal beaker for your toddler when they are learning to drink from a rim:
- Is lidless.
- Is plastic.
- Has two handles.
- Has a slanted edge.