Montessori - A Parent's Guide

The Weaning Cup – A How To Guide

The introduction of the Montessori Weaning Cup is a milestone in a baby’s journey to independence. In this post I’m looking at the why and the how of the process.

What is a Montessori Weaning Cup?

Weaning cup is a fancy name for a small glass. A traditional Weaning Cup will hold just under two ounces, is made of glass and has no handles. An american style shot glass is the ideal shape and size. I got mine from Sostrene Grene.

When do you introduce it?

That is totally up to you! You’re baby will need a good grip and reasonable coordination. We have been using a Weaning Cup since Alfie was a little over 6 months and he took to it really well.

Why would you use one? Are there any benefits?

The weaning cup enables a range of learning outcomes whereas a sippy cup offers just one. The main ones being;

  • Cause and Effect – The free flowing liquid is an ideal sensory approach to teaching cause and effect which children naturally begin to explore at around 8/9 months. The Weaning Cup also has a self correcting element, if I use it like this I get a drink, if I misuse it I get wet.
  • Respect for our Environment – Respect for our world, other living things and our materials is a key concept of Montessori. Glass is a natural material which children quickly learn to treat with respect. In the few months that we have been using the cup we’ve had one breakage – and it was me doing the washing up. When Alfie starts to get too rough with the glass I remove it, tell him why (“Your glass is delicate and will break if you are too rough, that would be dangerous because we might get cut so I’m putting it over here to keep us safe”) and leave it somewhere visible. I usually hand it back fairly soon.
  • Motor Skills – there’s nothing wrong with a challenging activity, the Weaning Cup is just that! Alfie loves getting himself a drink and concentrated very hard at the start, his giggle of achievement was so satisfying for both of us.
  • Independence – the cup makes life easier for Baby and Mummy, it removes an additional step of weaning, it also makes it possible for Baby to drink from any glass at home or away. It is a natural addition to a Baby Led Weaning household.

How do you introduce it?

First of all prepare the environment. Everything in life is easier when you’re prepared!

As with everything Montessori the answer is model, model, model! It’s important to model every activity exactly the way you want the child to replicate it. I sat down facing Alfie and lifted the cup with two hands, slowly took a sip and put it down again. Then I passed it to him. He grabbed it in his chubby little fists pretty much immediately….and tipped it down his chest. That’s the point though! I refilled the glass, drank again and passed it back to him. By the third or fourth day he was getting the cup to his lips and soon he was able to drink from it. It is best not to guide baby’s hands too much (or at all), when I first hand it to him I tend to keep a finger on it until he’s touched his lips, he’s been known to get too excited and ram the glass into his gums, I’m all for Montessori but not for bleeding babies!

We went through a funny phase when it seemed he regressed for a few weeks and wouldn’t or couldn’t use a glass but the invitation and the materials were there without any pressure and soon we were back on track.

But are you insane?! You handed your baby a GLASS!!

Yep! Most other parents will think you are totally insane and cast enormous judgement on the dangers of babies and glass. Ignore them as appropriate! I find that outside Montessori circles there is a tendency to expect the very worst from children but its amazing what they’re capable of when we invest a little trust.

There will be water everywhere but there will be lots of laughter and plenty of pride, both yours and baby’s. Happy weaning!

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  • Jill

    Love this – my nearly 8 month old just watched the video fascinated there! We have glasses like that, and we’re doing baby led weaning. So I guess I have no excuse not to give it a go

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