My 4 year old is having trouble learning to drink from a cup. He drinks from a sippy cup but can’t use a straw and when trying to drink from a cup he puts his tongue in the glass instead of under the glass. We repeatedly place his tongue under the cup but it ends up back in the cup. It doesn’t seem as if he is doing it on purpose and he is just as confused as we are frustrated to this happening. Any help and insight would be appreciated.

  • I don't know if this helps you, but when I (an adult) drink from a cup, I would describe my tongue as "in the glass" more than "under the glass". Nov 14, 2018 at 15:21
  • Thanks for replying. His problem is that if his tongue is in the cup whatever he is trying to drink runs out the corners of his mouth. Do you have that problem? Nov 14, 2018 at 16:01
  • No, but if I put my tongue under the cup, I have that problem. This sounds related to your other question; perhaps your child just needs more instruction on using his mouth muscles all-around if he's having trouble speaking, eating, and drinking. Just remember to not get frustrated with him. He is brand new to the world and needs your support. Nov 14, 2018 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


I want to suggest a doidy cup, but although they’re fairly inexpensive here in the UK, they might be quite pricey in other countries. They have a different shape of lip (rim?) to make the transition from bottle/breast/sippy cup to grown up cup slightly easier. You might find wider cups help in a similar way. (Disclaimer: I’m not employed by doidy cup, but I’ve owned and used two of them.).

As an adult, I don’t think my tongue touches a glass when I drink. It’s just my lower lip. But water bottles where I have to suck engage my tongue a lot more. In the UK, we’re advised to use "free flow" sippy cups, so no sucking (but a reasonable amount of spilling!). Child smile (who do school dentist visits) say valve sippy cups can cause speech problems, but I can’t find an academic reference for that. What I’m trying to say is if he’s been using a valve sippy cup for a while, then he’s used to using his tongue somehow and just pouring liquid into his mouth is going to feel weird for him.

Other than checking for any mechanical reason (awkward teeth/gums), you’ll probably just have to give him time and a sports water bottle when you’re out and about. If you’re anything like me, you’ll forget that bottle with increasing frequency, and he’ll start using the available cups.

  • Hello Pam and thank you so much for your comment. I have ordered a 3 pack of the doily cups and am excited to give them a try. Nov 18, 2018 at 1:15

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