The first year of your baby’s life is nothing short of sweet – and chaotic. New parents are up to their eyeballs in decisions – diaper types, formula vs. breastfeeding, which sleep methods to follow, and more. Among those decisions is one that impacts them far beyond infancy: when to introduce solids.
Introducing new foods comes with its own nuances, but something that commonly stumps new parents is how to introduce all the new products to help baby learn to eat. Eating itself is a natural reflex, but using things like straw cups and other training cups can be tricky.
Fortunately, at Hazel & Fawn, we have tons of feeding products to help ease that transition to toddlerhood.
When Should My Baby Start Using Training Cups?
Most experts agree that the best time to introduce any sort of training cup is between six and nine months old. Your baby should be able to sit up unassisted and be able to support themselves in a high chair. This trunk and neck control is essential to make sure your baby does not choke while learning to use a training cup.
Why Switch From Bottles to Cups?
Prolonged bottle use can be problematic for several reasons. First, it can hinder your baby’s progress as they learn to eat solids. If they rely on a bottle, they may avoid eating solids because they are already satiated. Cutting some bottle use and using a training cup with some water is a great alternative to carrying around a bottle with milk all day.
Additionally, prolonged bottle usage can greatly affect your baby’s oral health and development. As your baby begins teething, bottle use may alter the growing patterns of their teeth. Using bottles for long periods is also associated with higher incidences of tooth decay. Using a training cup can help set the tone for good oral health!
Straw Cups vs. Sippy Cups
There are tons of different training cups on the market. Ultimately, the type of training cup you choose for your child is up to you, but there is good evidence that supports the use of straw cups over sippy cups.
Using straw cups encourages appropriate development of the mouth and tongue muscles. As your baby ages, they should develop better sucking and swallowing skills. Sippy cups often don’t make the child work very hard to get the drink, but straw cups require a little more coordination.
Straw cups also support speech development, and sippy cups can impede them and lead to speech problems down the road. Straw cups are the healthier choice when choosing the right training cup for your child.
Our Favorite Straw Cups and Training Cups
It’s easy to get lost in the options for your first straw cup. Three of our favorite options for beginners are:
All of the straw cups linked above are fantastic options for when you begin the use of training cups. They are all made of soft silicone, perfect for sensitive, teething mouths.
Additionally, they are designed to eliminate spills even though they have straws, so it’s a parenting win-win! If you find that your baby is losing straws, replacements are available.
When Should I Start My Baby on Solid Foods?
Starting your baby on solid foods is a very personal choice, but most begin the process around six months of age. What’s more important than the age of the child is that they are exhibiting appropriate development and are showing signs of being ready for something other than milk.
The three major things you should look out for are head control, interest, and weight gain. Babies should be able to completely support their own heads and sit unassisted to avoid potential choking risks. They should show interest in your food, grabbing at it and opening their mouths, hoping for a bite. Finally, they should have doubled their birth weight.
A major cause of anxiety for parents when it comes to starting solids is the fear of choking, and many parents struggle to know the difference between choking and normal gagging and when to intervene. We like this rhyme to easily remember the difference: if baby is loud and red, put their hands over their head; if baby is silent and blue, they need you.
Why Should I Use Silicone Placemats and Dishes?
Silicone placemats and dishes are fantastic options for infants learning how to eat and for children of all ages! Silicone placemats are great because they are easy to clean, non-toxic, and easy to store. Silicone placemats and dishes also have suction cup options for the baby who loves to throw things from their high chair.
Another reason silicone placemats are great is that they help protect against bacteria since they are easier to wash. Silicone placemats are removable; therefore, they don’t get stuck-on food in every crack and crevice.
Silicone placemats and dishes are also better for your baby and the environment. They don't contain harsh plastics and are BPA-free. Silicone placemats and dishes are much more durable than plastic and tend to last a lot longer!
Our Favorite Toddler Eating Essentials
Just like straw cups, there are tons of options for baby dishes.
We love these 3:
The Mushie Silicone Placemat is a perfect product for little ones that will last them well into childhood. The ezpz Happy Mat is an all-in-one – a silicone placemat and plate. This is great for travel because there’s only one part to track. Finally, we love the Mushie Silicone Snack Cup above for so many finger foods; its unique top prevents spills while still being easy for little hands to reach into.
Fun Ways to Introduce Baby Feeding Products
Introducing new feeding products doesn’t have to be difficult. Little ones thrive on structure. Just like their bath or bedtime story, start incorporating new foods and products regularly and make it part of a routine.
Presenting new things through play is always a great idea! If your child seems nervous about new foods or eating products, try playing pretend kitchen or restaurant. Grab your new dish products and some new wooden toys with fruits and vegetables, and go to town!
All tips above are great starting points for transitioning your baby away from the bottle and onto more advanced food options. In addition, always make sure to follow the advice of your pediatrician and follow your parental instincts. Your baby will be an eating pro in no time!