Montessori-Inspired Drinking Glasses for Toddlers and Preschoolers

This is an idea taken from the Montessori method.  Give you child a real child-size glass to drink from and a child-size pitcher to pour from. In Montessori, children are taught to be independent and the materials they are given to work with are real, beautiful, and sized appropriately for them.  

I found our drinking glasses at Walmart–they are Libbey votive glasses for candles from the craft section @ $0.75/each.  I worried because they were in the craft section and not with the other kitchen glassware, so I emailed the company and they replied that they are indeed food safe!!  (I’ve included the email below.)  

These glasses are the perfect size for 1-3yo hands; they hold about 4 oz. when filled to the brim.  The child can easily grip the cup one-handed, just like an adult, and the glass is pretty thick and sturdy.  Of course, being glass, these items are breakable, so our rule is that they stay at the table at all times; the kids are not allowed to walk around the house with them EVER!  My oldest has been using glasses for at least a year and we’ve never had one to break!

Since the glass is child-sized, it probably doesn’t hold enough liquid for a meal or snack-time without needing to be refilled a time or two, so a pitcher is provided so the child may refill his/her cup as needed without having to repeatedly ask an adult for help.  The pitcher I have is an 11 oz. Anchor Hocking creamer pitcher

Luke has been drinking from a cup and pouring from a pitcher to refill his own cup since he was about 2.  Lilah is just getting the hang of the cup (she just turned 21 months), so I will probably introduce the pitcher for her in the very near future.  Not only is it great for their self-confidence and independence, it is also great fine motor practice!!

Allowing your children this freedom does take some patience on the part of the grownup — be sure to have a rag nearby for the CHILD to clean up any spills.  In fact, be sure your child knows where the rags are so that they can independently get a rag to clean up spills as needed.

If your child is very young, I’d start with just introducing the cup.  Once they have mastery of the cup, I’d begin to introduce the pitcher.  A good practice activity would be to get a tray, and allow the child to pour water from the pitcher into a cup and back again, providing a rag to clean up any spills.  

If you want to have success at dinnertime, be sure to not put more than a couple ounces of liquid into the pitcher so that it won’t overflow when your child pours it into their cup.  Once your child has had some successes with pouring from the pitcher into the cup, you can begin increasing the liquids in the pitcher so that the child has to exert more control while pouring.  Again, have those rags handy, and do your best to keep your cool and let your child handle the activity…and the cleanup.  My 3yo seldom spills any when he pours now!!  

Here is the email from the Libbey Glass company: 
Thank you for taking the time to contact us! All Libbey glassware, whether made in the United States or abroad, not only meets U.S. Federal requirements for food-safety, but meets the State of California’s requirements as well, which are the toughest in the nation. We never know what our customers might use our products for, so we produce them all to the same standard.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.

Have a great day,

Libbey Glass Customer Service
Eric Fraker
Ph #888 277 5020
Fax #888 886 1706

At the beginning of starting to use the cup with Luke, he would repeatedly put his cup down too close to the edge of the table.  To help with that, we started using these mats:

We’ve had these mats so long I can’t even remember where they came from, but they are GREAT for meal times.  The kids are able to help set the table, and they know to keep their cup away from the edge of the table and on the circle marked “cup”.  Luke enjoys spelling all the words and “reading” everything the mat says.  Even Lilah knows where to put her fork, spoon, and cup!  If you can’t find a similar mat, you can always draw one out on paper and laminate or cover with contact paper.  Another idea is to buy cork place mats and simply trace your dishes/silverware onto them with marker.

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • […] lower cabinet right beside where we put the water dispenser.  If you’re interested, here are Lilah’s ~3-1/2 oz. glasses.  Here are Luke’s 5-3/4 oz. glasses.  Lilah is just starting to transition to using […]

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