Tilt your head back!

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by Mage

Learning to drink from an open cup is trickier than it seems! This afternoon, JS showed me what he knows about drinking, and what his ideas are of how open cups work.

JS tilts his head down, and lifts the cup toward his mouth. I can hear slurping sounds, but I can’t see what’s happening behind his hands. I do see water dribbling out of the cup.

I say to JS, “Tilt your head back, and then bring the cup to your mouth.”

He tilts his head back. I see he opens his mouth wide, and sticks his tongue far out of his mouth. He brings the cup up to his mouth. At first, he has some difficulty tilting the cup back, but eventually does it ever-so-slowly, and laps at the water with his tongue again. He sets the cup down, and eats some snack. Then he picks up the cup again.

Rather than tilt his head back, again he tilts downward, and lifts the cup to his mouth, sticking his tongue inside. But then there seems to be a problem.

JS pulls the cup away from his face, and tilts it back a bit, looking into the cup. His brow is furrowed. He seems to be wondering, does this cup still have water in it? So it seems that when he put the cup to his mouth moments before, his tongue couldn’t reach the liquid at the bottom.

What I see here is that JS has some questions about where his tongue goes when using an open cup. When I showed Megan these photos, and explained that JS was using his tongue to lap up the water, she said, “He thinks it’s the same as a bowl, and he’s lapping the water like a dog.” He understood what I meant when I told him to tilt his head back, but maybe the action of tilting a cup back or letting water slosh into his mouth was too unfamiliar to happen with ease. He put his mouth in the cup while he performed that action, too, and although he was more successful in drinking that way, after taking a bite of food he went back to his previous method of tilting his head down. I’m curious how long it will take before JS understands that his tongue should stay in his mouth, and that he should pour water into his mouth. And I wonder what this process will look like for him, what else he will try as he approaches open cups again and again.

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