Today’s Hint: A Free (Play) Coffee Fix for the Toddler Set

Little kids love to imitate adults. For us coffee addicts, this means our little ones want to hold coffee cups just like we do.

Today’s hint is a free way I’ve come up with to satisfy my toddler’s coffee fix (without giving her the beverage or buying her a $2 baby-friendly coffee-like drink called a “Babyccino,” a spreading trend out of Brooklyn). Whenever I buy a coffee with my daughter in tow (most often at Starbucks), I ask for an extra small cup and top for my tot to hold, noting that “she likes to ‘drink coffee’ too.” I’ve yet to have anyone deny my request or ask that I pay for the cup. Instead, I’ve only received free cups plus lots of smiles.

The empty coffee cups, meanwhile, are a hit with my daughter. She loves to pretend to drink out of her cup and hold it while I’m drinking my coffee, meaning the cups make great free on-the go non-toy toys. And at home, the paper cups are a nice addition to her play food and drink collection.

Of course, I know that instilling a coffee – and a coffee buying – habit in my daughter may not be the healthiest or most budget friendly move. But involving my daughter in my coffee ritual does make for nice bonding time (something Heather Flett of the site Rookie Moms pointed out earlier this year when she advocated taking toddlers out for “a latte”).

The good news for those who, like me, are trying to cut down on buying coffee out, is that there’s a version of this trick you can do at home. When I have coffee at home in a mug, I give my daughter a plastic mug to hold, pretend to drink out of and play with.

If don’t like this idea, there are other ways you can involve your child in your coffee ritual. For instance, you could let your child play with coffee beans, transforming coffee making and drinking into a sensory play experience, as Alissa Marquess, a homeschooling mom who blogs at Creative with Kids, suggests. Or you could simply not sweat giving your child a sip or two. In fact, in some cultures kids drink coffee a lot younger than here.

To be sure, I know that empty cups won’t satisfy my daughter forever, and I’ll eventually have to fill up her paper and plastic cups with something. When that day comes, before I consider buying her a babyccino (yes, these drinks do exist), I’ll try filling her coffee cup with water first since it’s free too, and then I’ll consider making a DIY babyccino like this one shared by Dariela Cruz of the blog Mami Talks.

How do you satisfy your child’s coffee (or adult drink) fix?

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