Ask A Therapist: Straw Drinking


Hello TalkTools,


I feel so defeated. My son is 2 years old and I can't get him to master straw drinking. He is an otherwise high-functioning, very successful child. He is starting to walk, can build with blocks ... What am I doing wrong?


David has Down Syndrome. (He has repaired cardiac defect, which thankfully has not been causing him any issues.) I find that he is very sensitive in the mouth. he is nervous to put anything in his mouth that he is not familiar with. I find him to be more motivated by familiarity (i.e. familiar foods) than special tastes. I tried putting all different juices in his mouth to get him to want to suck up but he is annoyed with the task.


Right now, my therapist suggested that I try using a large chocolate syringe ( it's an over sized syringe kids love to pour chocolate in their mouth!) which hopefully, will motivate him to suck the tip.


I am scheduled to see Lori Overland in November but I would love to get some tips now already.




Hi Miriam,

I'm Whitney, a TalkTools® Instructor. Thanks for your email regarding your son. Please know you are not doing anything wrong. Often times straw drinking is very difficult to teach so be patient. I am very encouraged that you are scheduled to see Lori Overland in a few weeks. Hands on approach is so much better than any suggestions I can give you without getting my hands on your child.  

For now I would use the honey bear to teach this technique and add a highly flavored favorite liquid. I would also recommend to make the consistency a little thicker than water to help with tolerating this new motor skill. I often use a favorite yogurt or pudding and add water.   For now I would just continue to get acceptance of the honey bear and the straw to his mouth. Do not continue to push it if he becomes easily frustrated as we want to be able to address this skill when you see Lori Overland.  

Please let me know if you have any other questions.  


Whitney B. Pimentel MA, CCC-SLP


  • TalkTools

    Hi Jackie,
    Do you own a straw kit? This is explained in the first page of the instruction booklet:
    Let me know if you have more questions. We are always happy to help!

  • jackie grosse

    Can you tell me which part of the tongue each straw specifically addresses when using the straw hierarchy? I know the # 8 straw works the back sides of the tongue but I don’t know about #’s 1-7. Does the #1 straw work the front of the tongue and the #2 straw further back on the tongue all the way up to &?
    Thank you

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