Toddler Tips: Let’s Have Tea

With each passing day, I find myself trying to solve some new challenge with raising four toddlers, aka “quaddlers”. They are a cunning lot who inspires a little ingenuity on my part (and George’s) just to manage day to day life. While my ideas are born from being surrounded by four toddlers, I think many of them could be helpful to any parents of little ones so I'm sharing.

With each passing day, I find myself trying to solve some new challenge with raising four toddlers, aka “quaddlers”. They are a cunning lot who inspires a little ingenuity on my part (and George’s) just to manage day to day life. While my ideas are born from being surrounded by four toddlers, I think many of them could be helpful to any parents of little ones so I’m sharing.

When  Sydney was initially evaluated by ECI for speech delays, the speech pathologist asked how she was doing with open cups at meals.  SAY WHAT????  Seriously, I didn’t realize that at 15 months they should be drinking from an open cup (or at least trying).  I’m not sure what parents of singletons do, but as a mom of quadruplets, I was not about to let four toddlers loose with open cups at the table.  At that age they were practically catapulting spill proof straw cups across the room. In fact, at that age I believe we were using sippy cup straps.  Even though the quads were apparently deprived of an opportunity, the speech pathologist understood my plight.  She suggested letting them practice in the bathtub with cups so I wouldn’t have to contend with spills.

I thought about that, I really did.  However, germaphobe me just could not get past the notion of encouraging the babies to drink bath water.  Even though I try extremely hard to avoid urine in the water, I know they still pee in the tub.  Plus, they are taking a bath because they are smelly, sticky, and downright gross!  I could not do it.  Several months passed and I still had not allowed the babies to experiment with open cups at the table, or the bathtub for that matter.

When Sydney’s re-evaluation for speech came up at 19 months, the speech pathologist inquired about how she managed open cups again.  UGH!  I had to admit she (and the others) still weren’t given an opportunity.  I volunteered that with the warmer weather approaching we could start using the water table outside and could try cups then.   They’d still have their icky hands in the water, but at least I’d be sure there was no pee pee in their beverages.  That wouldn’t do, she wanted Sydney and her posse trying open cups.

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Together we decided a bathtub tea party would work perfectly.  Instead of encouraging them to drink the bath water, I filled a tea-pot with fresh, cold water.  I told the babies it was “time for tea”, passed out cups and filled each cup with a little fresh water.   All four babies drank happily, spilling very little.  When someone attempted to refill their own cup with bath water, I redirected them saying, “No, no, Mommy has tea here”, and refilled the cup myself.  In time, they poured “tea” into the water and made multiple attempts to drink the bath water, but I stuck to the plan.

I used color tabs to make the bath water blue so it would look different from the tea.  I don't think the babies cared about that, however.

I used color tabs to make the bath water blue so it would look different from the tea. I don’t think the babies cared about that, however.

Bottoms up, Harper!

Bottoms up, Harper!

Ryin is a girl after my own heart, I also like sipping tea with a spoon.

Ryin is a girl after my own heart, I also like sipping tea with a spoon.

Of course, a tea party also includes the finest of fruits and pastries.

Of course, a tea party also includes the finest of fruits and pastries.

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After a while, Rylin started feeding Harper some of her tea.

After a while, Rylin started feeding Harper some of her tea.

We will continue having the occasional bathtub tea party until I’m brave enough to serve open cups at the dinner table, or perhaps the outdoor picnic table.  I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m considering filling the tea-pot with something other than water (e.g. decaf tea or juice) to encourage them to drink it and not refill on their own).   Out of necessity, I’ve been hostessing these tea parties on my own with all four babies at once.  However, I think we’d make more progress on bath nights when I have help and can bathe just one or two babies at a time.

Where’s your favorite spot to enjoy a cup of tea?

hugs!

Amber

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19 thoughts on “Toddler Tips: Let’s Have Tea

  1. Girl, though our littlest has definitely experimented with an open cup, I don’t generally allow them either…and he’s three! He spills everytime. I understand your predicament with speech issues, though, so I admire your ingenuity. My favorite spot to enjoy tea? My brown sofa, right next to a warm fire!

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    • Honestly, I don’t think many kids under about age four really use open cups. We can play in the tub though!
      That sounds like prime real estate for tea sipping!

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  2. As you know, I’m a pediatric speech pathologist and not a germaphobe. Toddlers should begin using open cups at around 15 months and not relying on bottles and sippy cups all the time for many reasons (swallowing patterns, dental issues, speech problems, etc.). They should not be drinking bath water either. So, good for you for not letting that happen. Just as you’re teaching them how to use a spoon, manners, etc at the dinner table, you also teach them how to use a cup. You let them use paint in the kitchen and other messy adventures, so you can let them practice drinking from a cup of water in the kitchen as well. Don’t fill it up; just fill it about a 1/3 full. They can ask for refills or more which gives them opportunity to request. You can do it! I know you would give the advice that we have to do what is best for the children, not best or easiest for us :)
    You’re doing an amazing job with these four little humans.
    Gina

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    • Haha, you got me on the other messy activities at the table! I think I’m so overwhelmed by their utensils and finger feeding messes that adding open cups to the mix just sends me over the edge. However, practicing doesn’t mean we have to do it every meal. Maybe we will try at snack times, especially when we are outdoors.
      Do you know Dr. Knapp doesn’t mind bottles until age 3???? I thought that was crazy! We stopped bottles by a year and sippy cups around 14 months. They do great with lidded cups and straws, just not open cups yet. I don’t even fill their bath tea cups 1/4 of the way :) Just enough for sips. They request really well that way, and have far less to spill.
      Absolutely true, what is best is almost never the easiest!
      Thanks for the vote of confidence.

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      • Not to burst your bubble but lidded cups with straws are the same as bottles and sippy cups. Once they are older and can easily drink from a cup, it is good to have them drink from a straw if you allow them soda or orange juice or other beverages that can damage their teeth. Using a straw allows the liquid to bypass most of the teeth and head straight for the ol’ throat. Its amazing we all survived knowing what we know now.
        You know I looooove Dr. Knapp but he’s also at one point didn’t see the benefit of signing with infants. He’s changed his position on that one thankfully :)

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      • Bubble burster…I’m sticking to this one. We are going to use cups with straws with meals until they can be trusted. Don’t worry- we will still be practicing with open cups. =)
        So glad Dr. Knapp changed his mind on signing with babies! Maybe he’ll come around on the bottle thing too.

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  3. Great idea! I usually try an open cup right after they brush their teeth, right before bedtime. I have only one in my arm and can be more attentive, but I must admit- I do the holding! I think a tea party is the way to go! :)

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    • Probably a mix of tea parties and your way would help develop the skill. I’d like to try during snack, especially outside. Doing it at already messy mealtimes is just too much!

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  4. We’ve tried them out here and there but I’m not overly concerned about it just yet. I’ve had some cups in mind that I”d like to try though and will be looking to purchase them soon. Kailey is definitely ready!

    I prefer my hot tea in my dimly lit bedroom with candle burning and a new TV show primed and ready :)

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    • I wasn’t too concerned either until speech brought up the oral motor mechanism stuff. Aye aye aye! We tried the “grow up cups” by sassy, but they don’t exactly work like open cups. We have munchkin ones I need to try at the table too, but I’m not ready!
      Your hot tea spot sounds cozy!

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  5. I was at the daycare when they served breakfast to the toddler class (all the kids are between about 16-24 months), and they handed them all open cups with a little milk in them. I was amazed, but also thought, “Wow, that’s great–now Naomi will get practice and I don’t have to hand her a cup myself… ” :) I’ve thought of the bathtub drinking thing, but I worry about her drinking the bathwater… if you were successful, though, maybe we’ll try it!

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  6. beautiful post! l love harper’s eyelashes. There’s been no recent post under shawver’s shenanigans.Guess they’ve been good boys and girls…lots of love to them from Nigeria!

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    • Actually…there have been sooooo many shenanigans I can’t keep up, lol. I have a post waiting about their food fight.
      He does have great lashes! I’m jealous.

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  7. In developing countries,babies don’t use sippy cups,they start with open cups with two handles,graduate to one with one handle,by the age of two,they are experts at holding open cups with no handles…About the mess,it’s a norm for the mothers.they’ll clean them up

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    • That’s evidence that kids rise to the bar we set for them!
      I think I don’t want to do cup messes because they are avoidable with lids, and I clean up ALL day….I’m exhausted.

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  8. Just give’em Tea…decaf of course…they’ll love it, as you know, especially from Aunt Ca-wah. :o)

    When I was a young girl, Mama would make velvetta cheese & mayonnaise sandwiches cut in little triangles & hot tea for “our” tea party. To this day if I want to have a calm soothing moment, a cheese sandwich & tea will do the trick. Mama always loved to give all the kids a “tea party.”

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    • Granny did love tea parties!!! I remember that silver tea set she used with Brandi, I loved it.
      I think we need to brew a pitcher of decaf for tomorrow so ca-wah can serve tea :)

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  9. I had to laugh while reading this Amber only because of the bath tub drinking thing! My kids all fight over the hair rinsing cup as soon as they get in the tub. I have no problem with them drinking the bath water but probably did with the girls since they were my first! The other day my sister went to hand Rylan a open cup with a small amount of water and I told her to watch him because I wasn’t sure how he would do and he did great with the all 5 refills she gave him as he drank without spilling a drop. Then I remembered how long he has been practicing with the cup in the bath tub and it made me realize the quads could all drink with an open cup. Not that I am going to do that because there is no way I am going to be spilling up spilled water all day when they knock over the cups!! Your kids will all get the hang of things. I have never seen a kid in junior high still using a sippy cup.

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    • Lol! When I saw that you commented- I thought “she has seven kids…I bet they drink bath water!” The good news is they are all capable of drinking from open cups.

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