I have been working very hard to get Rosie to learn how to drink from a straw. For kids with Down syndrome, straw cups are WAY better than sippy cups which can promote tongue protrusion (a tongue hanging out of mouth at rest). When using a straw, they have to be able to close their mouth around the straw, suck in, and pull their tongue back a bit. This helps develop some of the muscles important for clear speech down the road.
We have this great cup called a Bear Bottle from ARK. Basically, there is a valve at the bottom of the straw that prevents the fluids in the straw from dropping back into the cup after every sip. This makes it so Rosie has to do less work while learning how to sip. Another neat feature is that you can squeeze the bottle and fluid will be pushed out of the straw (kind of like what happens if you squeeze a juice box)! Thanks to this, I was able to teach Rosie that fluid comes out of the straw before she was able to suck it out herself.
This week, Rosie figured out how to suck water out of the straw! The only problem was that all the water she got in her mouth dribbled out like someone who tries to drink after they have dental work! Her speech therapist and occupational therapist recommended that we try something thicker than water. I started by trying to have her suck food out of her baby food pouches instead of feeding it to her with a spoon. This morning, we progressed to trying a smoothie in her Bear Cup and it worked! She is able to suck the smoothie out of the cup and swallow it instead of it dribbling out of her mouth! We will keep practicing with smoothies until she is ready to move to thinner liquids.
For more information about the the Bear Bottle, check out ARK's website: http://www.arktherapeutic.com/BB100AR.html
A similar cup is made by Talk Tools. For more information about that cup, here is the link to their website: http://www.talktools.com/honey-bear-w-flex-straw/.