Sippy, straw, bottle, cup

[6 months +]  A cup is a cup is a cup! Not! You can almost expect to spend a bit of money just finding the right cup for your little one.  It is frustrating as even if someone gives you a recommendation for a good one, it’s likely you won’t be able to find that exact cup in the stores.  And if you do, maybe it won’t suit your child.

moving to an open cup

moving to an open cup

First, let’s look at the basics of cup drinking.

When? Any time from 6 months on, even if it’s just providing exposure.  At about 7-9 months, your baby should be more interested and able to take some water.  That means if you are still breastfeeding, your baby need not ever drink from a bottle.  And there is NO reason why your baby can’t drink formula or cow’s milk (after 12 months), or any other milk from a cup, instead of a bottle (you can have a particular one for water and another for milk).

Why? Drinking from a cup gives your child’s jaw a mini-workout.  It moves from the more ‘immature’ action of suckling, with the tongue and jaw forward (as your baby would do on the breast or bottle) to the jaw having to grade and hold itself in place with tongue back in the mouth.  Go on, pretend you are drinking from a bottle and notice where your tongue and jaw are and then change to a position for cup drinking.

This workout for your baby’s jaw and tongue position leads to stronger muscles for later chewing and holding itself in place for the different vowel sounds (try ‘ae’ vs ‘oh’ vs ‘eh’ vs ‘ih’).

But before open cup drinking stage, your child will most likely use a sippy or straw cup and even a pop-top.

Which one?

You will most likely need to start with a sippy cup with a silicone mouth piece but even a young baby can learn to drink straight from an open cup (it’s just the spill factor that makes most turn to a closed cup).  Give it a try!  Don’t believe marketing – you do not need to buy a cup for 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 18 months, 2 years etc.  Some babies can hold on quite fine without handles and others can go straight from a silicone mouthpiece to an ’18 month old cup’ without the need for the ones in between.  Once your child is used to a soft mouth piece, you can move towards a harder mouth piece and then possibly to training more on an open cup.  There are also cups that transition through several stages, with different attachments (more info below in ‘product review’).

The other thing is, cups bring a whole lot of plastic into your child’s mouth.  Since BPA-free plastic is now being found to still be not-so-desirable (take a look at ‘Even BPA-free Plastics Leach Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals’), don’t forget to be on the watch for plastic alternatives, such as stainless steel or even protected glass.  The plastic-free sippy cups can be pricey, but why not look out for stainless steel drink bottles as soon as your little one is ready (even at supermarkets).

Sippy vs straw? And then what?

Sippy:

  • It is generally easier to teach your baby to drink from at first (silicone mouthpiece moving to harder mouthpiece). Note: the sooner you move to a harder mouthpiece, the less you will have to replace silicone tops that are easily chewn
  • The sippy cup with a silicone mouth piece can actually still promote the jaw/tongue forward position, but is good practice for open cup drinking, allowing your child to practice tipping the cup, with hand to mouth action
  • As your little one gets better at drinking, you can change to a sippy cup with a harder mouth piece which promotes keeping the tongue in the mouth (and thus jaw in a better position)
hard mouthpiece

hard mouthpiece

hard mouthpiece

hard mouthpiece

Straw:

straw_cup

  • Promote jaw/tongue back position – good for later speech
  • Can be tricky to teach but some kids just get it, easier than a sippy cup
  • Can be tricky to wash but may last longer than the silicone topped sippy cups
  • Can be easier to keep leak-free than the silicone mouth pieces that can split and allow ‘spill-proof’ to pour out
  • No plastic-free version (that I have seen), until your child can drink from an open cup…and then there are stainless steel cups and straws available

IMG_8028[1]

Pop top/sports top/drink bottle:

  • These are generally the step after sippy or straw cup, but if you are struggling with the above, feel free to give them a go!
  • Stainless steel varieties are readily available which prevent plastic chemicals from leaching into the water

    say 'no' to plastic

    say ‘no’ to plastic

Making it easier

Firstly, if your little one is struggling to drink from a cup, give it some time.  Once they are really needing to take in more liquid (ie less milk feeds, eating more or hot weather), you might need to try some tips below to help them:

  • start with a silicone top (you can even widen the hole if necessary) OR use a harder mouth piece and take out the valve
  • use a very small cup, such as a medicine cup to introduce a tiny bit of liquid to your baby’s mouth
  • some have claimed ‘take and toss’ cheap varieties have been the only way..
  • when introducing a straw cup, use a short straw in a cup, a ‘lickety-sip iceblock straw’ or even cut the straw in the cup (your little one will then have to tip the cup but only suck a tiny bit to draw the liquid up)

    a short straw to practice! and a novelty..

    a short straw to practice! and a novelty..

Moving to open cup

Once your child has the hang of a sippy or straw cup (probably some time after 12 months), you can try them occasionally on an open cup.  Think any small ‘cup’ like a medicine cup or round container.  A smoothie can be easier for a child to manage as it approaches their mouth more slowly than water and they will ‘feel’ it on their top lip better too.

Here is a variety of ‘cups’ that I have used over the years with the boys.  And sometimes the more novelty the cup, the more likely they are to try something new too (for example, fresh orange juice with all the pulp + barley grass & ginger!!).

they're all cups

they’re all cups

Product Review

Weego BPA free Glass sippy cup – I wish we had known about these when we bought all of our plastic cups (now knowing that any plastic can leach undesirable chemicals from them).  However, most babies generally need to start with a softer mouthpiece before moving to a harder one that this sippy cup has.  And you will have to trust that it will be easy enough for your little one to sip from without being able to test.

http://www.shopnaturally.com.au/lifefactory-weego-bpa-free-glass-sippy-cup-bottle-9oz-250ml-with-ocean-blue-silicone-cover.html

glass_cup

There is also a stainless steel variety that converts from a bottle to a sippy cup.   More plastic-free varieties at baby-bottles.com.au http://www.baby-bottles.com.au/p/8231028/earthlust-birds-bees-stainless-steel-baby-bottle-sippy-cup-birds-207ml.html

getting away from plastic

getting away from plastic

Mag mag – 4.8 stars (from productreview.com.au) goes from teat towards straw cup with varying teats in between + handles, can easily buy replacement valves and keep the cup (a plus over others where you have to buy another whole cup)

Nuby No Spill Flip-It – 4.8 stars. no spill, easy to sip from, babies have mastered as their first cup (say 7 months old), straw and cup not so easy to clean

Take and Toss – 4.7 stars cheap, removable handles, no valve, will leak, will need to replace often as children can chew on the plastic

TommeeTippee Discovera two-stage drinker – I can’t remember where I bought this (maybe Target or Woolworths).  It is the perfect step from hard mouthpiece sippy cup to open cup.  The rim of the open cup has a good ‘lip’ on it for the child to feel their mouth on it.  We have combined open cup drinking with this cup and stainless steel drink bottle (pictured above) for out and about for Master 20 months.

sippy to open cup

sippy to open cup

Of course, there are MANY other varieties I haven’t mentioned.  I’ve stuck with the popular and the non-plastic varieties.  Please leave feedback if you have found another brilliant cup that is worth sharing with others (and where you got it)!  Thanks, Heidi 🙂

Outrageous is the key word!

[Looking after yourself as a parent] Following last night’s post about ‘martyrdom’, today I’ll leave you with a thought of doing something for yourself instead of as a ‘parent’.

This involves FUN! Think to a time when you let go and allowed yourself to do something fun, crazy and even outrageous.  Did this lighten your soul?  And did it help to not take life so seriously afterwards?  Hopefully yes!

The aim is to create your own fun once a DAY. And the rules are that joining in on someone else’s fun doesn’t count (as fun as that is).

My crazy moves sometimes involve my kids, like initiating hide and seek, breaking into dance in the car and playing in the rain, but they can also be just for you.  Think cracking open a beverage at nine in the morning or getting into some air guitar or crazy singing at the traffic lights!

Whatever your ‘lighter’ side can dream up!  It really does help you to step into your own life a bit more and have a moment away from being a parent.  It will also help to make sure you never take life too seriously and cope much better with the challenges of day to day parenting.  And it will surely rub off on the rest of the family… just watch as they want to join in on your fun 🙂

You’ll need to learn that yourself…

Martyrdom – when a mum (or dad) steps in on their child’s life too much, which prevents the child from living their own life and making their own mistakes. It can be the little things like stepping in to help too much or even to the point of providing too much for your child, preventing them from learning the value in hard work. It can start from when the child is very young.

The disadvantages of stepping in too much:
– your child can learn ‘learned helplessness’ when they figure Mum or Dad will do it for me (and this can carry into adolescence and adulthood)
– they may perceive they can’t do something well because the parent is helping them so much
– they may miss out on important lessons in life and the chance to problem solve themselves
– the PARENT can be stressed and low in energy from living too much of their child’s life
– the parent starts to lose ‘who they are’ as they are so engrossed in their child’s life
– martyrdom is linked with the pancreas and bitterness (as I found out at the recent emotional anatomy of yoga workshop I went to) which lets us know that this can affect our health if we take on martyrdom too much in our life

This is a big one and crops up in so many aspects of parenting that we have probably all stepped into this at one time or another. And remember, there is a clear difference between an ‘involved parent’ and one that is living in their child’s shoes a bit too much.

The ‘answer’ is to instead take on a teaching/encouraging role.

If you’d like a bit more information, you could check out ‘Are You a Mother or a Martyr? How Much is Too Much When “Doing” for Your Child?’ at Empowering Parents. But more importantly, why not take the time to reflect where you could step back from your child’s life…. and also how you can step into your own life more (think putting that energy into your own interests!).

The pack away game

[12 months] Starting as early as you can, start making a game of packing away, when you have the time!  It is MUCH easier to make packing away a habit rather than a chore that is suddenly expected of children when they are older.

This works for packing away toys where there are many ‘things’, for example, bath toys, duplo, little people, soft animals/teddies, waterplay toys.

The ‘game’ is YOU giving language clues for the child to find the things and bring them to you to put in the box/tub or wherever they belong.  You just need to adjust the clues according to age!

Examples:

  • 12 months – ‘get  cup’ (using signs/gestures is good to give them more of a chance of working out what you are talking about), ‘get duck
  • 18 months – start giving clues, not just the word, such as ‘get big ball’, ‘get elephant with hat’ (signs can still be good)
  • 2 years onwards – start using more describing words (adjectives) such as ‘the spiky dinosaur’, ‘the spotty one’, ‘the  long rake’ or other attributes of the item ‘the one we eat at breakfast’, ‘the one we peel’, ‘the red one’ (and you still might be using your hands!)

Once you start to know the words your child knows, start giving multiple directions at a time such as, ‘get the duck and pig’, ‘find the big teddy and the teddy with no clothes’, ‘get the banana, the watermelon and something we eat for dinner’.

Don’t forget to finish the game by saying ‘hooray’, high fives, ‘you packed away’, ‘you HELPED’!!!!!!

And IF you still have trouble encouraging packing away, why not start by ‘backward chaining’.   That is, you pack away some (or most, depending how young your child is) and get them to help with the last few. That way they can still receive the ‘hoorays’ which sets it on a positive note to try again for next time 🙂

image

Looking after yourself as a parent

Well I have been quiet over the last few days, changing my life at an ‘Energetic Anatomy of a Yogi’ workshop. Paul and Jaylee the presenters have AMAZING knowledge, both have been initiated into the lineage of the Tibetan Master Lama and Grand Master of Tao and also have a background in psychology, hypnosis, stress management and of course Bikram Yoga.
They have mapped out where emotion can get ‘blocked’ (or expressed and released) in the body. I feel that so many of their points can relate to parenthood and may also help you out as a parent to learn about yourself and thus help out your children in their emotional development.

So look out for my upcoming posts relating to emotions and the body! On the flipside, I have committed to less ‘materialism’ and technology in my life, so I will be cutting back a little bit on this blog, but will still give it just as much love!

So, have you ever considered the FOUR bodies we have – our physical body, our emotional body, our mental body and our spiritual body. We can exercise our physical body through many forms, our mental body through study/reading etc, our spiritual body through whichever form we take, but how easy is it to go out and exercise our emotional body?….

Sometimes it’s good to let go of the mental chatter or the ‘doing’ with our physical body and let our emotional body (our heart) make decisions.

This is one point that I will be sure to explain to my boys and of course talk about emotions as much as possible to help them to exercise their ’emotional body’.

I’m sure many of us have grown up not really knowing what it is like to exercise our ’emotional body’??

But as the presenters of the workshop I attended stated – emotions are energy in motion. Just like water needs to flow, or it will stagnate and breed disease, emotions need to flow too…..

Deconstructed kid’s meals

Keep in mind ‘mixed textures’ (such as chunky soups, casseroles, stirfries, pasta/rice/bowl dishes) can be very difficult for your child’s sensory system to cope with. It can be easier to serve the meal ‘deconstructed’ – think veges, meat etc all served apart. This gives your little one a chance to discover each food for itself and not be trying to deal with many textures and flavours at once.
It doesn’t mean you can’t put some sauce or flavour over the meal though!

Your child’s sensory system will cope more easily with textures that are similar (think grated veges in bolognaise or dhal/lentils), but don’t forget your child still needs to be exposed to the vegetables and meat in their real form for their sensory system to develop.

Here is an example:
– adult dish – quinoa, mushrooms, chicken, medium boiled egg, onion, avocado, peas and sesame oil dressing and possibly chilli flakes
– kids version – quinoa with sesame oil on top, everything else separated on the side, no chilli.

What’s on today mummy??

[12 mths+] Did you remember to tell your little one ‘no daycare’ this morning? Actually, once you have defined the word ‘daycare’ (by telling them at the front gate or just entering), you can announce each morning ‘daycare today’ or ‘NO daycare today’.  Children this young may certainly be wondering what is happening for the day but would not necessarily have the words to ask.
And of course you can tell them anything else that’s on in the day – as long as you have defined the words for them ‘daddy work’, ‘shops today’, ‘Sam’s house today’ etc.

ABC Reading Eggs – website/app review

[3 years +]  Are you keen for your child to look forward to literacy learning experiences?  Are they ready to learn before they start school?  Could they do with some help now that they have started school?  Do they have learning difficulties or autism?  Are you looking for fun and educational apps and games for your child?

ABC Reading Eggs is definitely a great place to discover!

image courtesy of daily telegraph

image courtesy of daily telegraph

What is it?

ABC Reading Eggs is a website and iPad app that is dedicated to teaching children literacy through fun, interactive games and based on research in developing literacy skills.  It was developed by experienced teachers, writers, animators and web developers, and you can tell!  It teaches phonemic awareness and phonics, sight words, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension and will have your child hooked to learning about sounds and words before you know it.  Just give it a go by checking out a sample lesson or taking a free trial.

The best thing I have found is the simple things that get your child hooked.  The fun games like spinning a wheel or popping bubbles, the funny and enticing characters that have your child working so hard just to hear them sing and the idea of getting to new eggs and seeing what will happen.  Each lesson ends in a story involving the sounds, words and characters they have just interacted with.  After your child has earned so many eggs, they then get access to play games with these.  We haven’t even gone to the game section as the lessons are enticing enough for Master 3.

Reading Eggs also sells Reading Eggs readers that we have found at our local library.  These match exactly what your child has learnt in the lessons which make it hard for your child not to be able to read successfully once they have done the lesson once (or more – they can be repeated as many times as needed).

Reading Eggs is available on the web and also on iPads.  You can get a mini-version on iphone app which is related games but certainly not whole program.

Who is it for? 

Reading Eggs is designed for children from three years of age with no literacy experience and will take them through until a grade 2 reading level.  Children with or without difficulties learning to read will benefit.  As long as your child knows how to work the mouse and arrow keys, they can be guided through it independently, but the games and characters really get you hooked in as well!  A simple test can tell you where your child should start, if you are unsure.

How much does it cost? 

It doesn’t sound cheap, but after you have taken a free trial, you will see how amazing this website is.  A year’s subscription costs $79.95.  There are other options including packs with books and access to only so many levels.  We were lucky enough to hear about a free 5 week trial and then got offered a discount to join after that.

So, if you can fathom at least checking out the sample lessons or taking a free trial, you can judge if it would be worth it for your child.  Of course, there are the simple ways to learn literacy, by first focussing on phonological awareness and exposure to books.  (link to post).

Sliiiiiiide….

[18 mths+] Give your child single words as they are learning vocabulary around an activity. With a puzzle, the words you might use are:
– ‘turn’
– ‘slide’ (less frustration teaching to ‘slide’ at first over ‘push’)
– ‘push’
– ‘help’
– ‘more’ (pieces)
– ‘finished’
– and of course naming what’s on the pieces!
** Remember to use your hands to define what you mean by ‘turn’ (like a turning tap action), ‘slide’, ‘push’..

And don’t forget using signs with little ones can give your child a visual reference to help them understand and remember this word.  You can find out more about ‘baby sign’ from my post ‘Do I get on this ‘baby sign’ bandwagon or not?…’.

'slide'

‘slide’