At 11mths my daughter is able to use spouted beakers for both milk and water. Lately she has started to drop or throw her cup after taking a small amount at milk feeds having previously taken these well. How do I deal with this behaviour?
We introduced beakers to my daughter, who is now 11mths following the guidelines. She took to them well, and is now only having a bottle once a day at bedtime. She uses non-spill Tommee Tippee cups both with and without handles. She has always been inclined to drop her water beaker at mealtimes, and recently she has also started to drop her cup whilst it still contains milk. Before now she would fairly consistently finish the milk before dropping her cup. However, she will drink greedily if we hold the cup up for her, so I do not feel she is dropping the cup because she is not hungry.
We are travelling to Australia for two months and it is 40 degrees there so we do not want to have to keep removing the cup to solve the problem as it may mean that she ends up not drinking enough fluids. But how else do I deal with this behaviour.
My daughter takes 7ozs of formula at 7am, 1/3rd of this is used to mix her cereal. She eats 1 weetabix or a sachet of ready brek followed by toast/ French toast/ cheese on toast /chopped fruit.
11.45am, 3-4 heaped tablespoons lamb hotpot/chicken with roasted vegetables, slice of bread with butter/cream cheese, 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt with 2 cubes chopped fruit
2.30pm 6ozs formula
5.00pm, 3-4heaped tablespoons of protein or vegetarian meal, chopped pasta etc, dessert on alternate days, finger food.
6.30pm 6 ozs formula
By 12 months your daughter will need a minimum daily allowance of 12ozs milk. This includes milk used in cereal and cooking. She may well be showing the signs that she is ready to cut down on her intake a little but also she has reached a stage in her development where she has discovered dropping and throwing.
Handling this problem in a sensible way should not interfere with your daughter’s daily fluid intake but will encourage her to learn that throwing or dropping her beaker is not acceptable.
At this age your daughter does not fully understand the word, “No” but she will understand by your tone of voice that her actions are causing your disproval. The word “No” is meaningless to a baby if not said with a firm, low voice. It will take persistence and consistency, using the same phrase and tone of voice each time she drops or throws her beaker, until she fully understands that she should not throw her beaker.
Decide on a short phrase such as, “We put our cup down, we don’t throw it” and use it each and every time the problem occurs. Watch for the signs that your daughter is about to drop her cup. If you say her name using a lower tone of voice than your normal speech, it will sound both firm and warning; by then speaking the above phrase you may be able to prevent some of the episodes. Back up your words by helping her to put her cup down beside her bowl or plate. A short explanation is more effective if spoken in a tone of voice which shows you mean what you say.
If your daughter begins to repeat the performance, then remove her beaker whilst she continues with her meal. Using distraction at this age will help her forget about her new found skill of dropping and her attention will be focused on something new. Offer her the beaker again after a short interval or at the end of the meal, so you are not depriving her of either water or milk if she needs the fluid. Until she is fully capable of tipping her cup herself you may need to assist her to help take the amount of fluid she wants. Providing you always encourage her to take her drinks on her own before offering her help she will gradually learn all the skills needed to tip her cup back.
Your daughter’s inborn need to explore, experiment and try to understand the world around her will mean at times her actions are inappropriate. She will learn that throwing her cup is unacceptable but throwing a ball is a skill you will encourage. She will learn this by listening to your voice. If she does take a drink from her cup and set it back down beside her bowl then be sure to comment about this, thanking her for not throwing her cup. Your daughter will want to earn your approval so, by using different levels and tones of voice for approval and disapproval, you will help her to behave in an appropriate way.
At 11 months your daughter may well be losing interest in her 2.30pm milk. Many babies of this age will have given this feed up by now. As you do not have the distraction of having a meal at this time it may be a great game to your daughter to throw her cup at this feed. Offer her a smaller feed, 2-3ozs of milk, and see if she is able to feed herself without losing interest. Providing she is taking her daily minimum requirements of milk you could replace this feed with a drink of water and piece of fruit.
At your daughter’s age she has learnt to drop and throw – both quite complex, manipulative skills. Once a baby has learnt how to let something go, opening and releasing it from her hands, she will want to practise this skill over and over again. If you watch your daughter you will notice she will probably follow the passage of the falling cup with her eyes. She is testing the fact that when released from her hand things will usually fall towards the ground.
Finding ways for her to practise and use this skill at other times of day, rather than with her cup at mealtimes, may help the problem fade away. Tie a toy to a piece of ribbon secured to her high chair. See if she is able to work out how to retrieve her toy as well as drop it. Play with balls of a size she is able to hold easily and encourage her to throw them to you.
You are right to be aware of your daughter’s need for water whilst you are travelling. If you offer her water mid way between her meal times as well as at lunch and tea she should take enough for her needs. If you are consistent in the approach to her dropping her cup, but also continue to help her drink from it should she need to, she should receive enough fluids to cope with the increase in temperature.