Are Sippy Cups Hurting Your Child?

As parents, we all want what is best for our children. However, with so many different feeding products available, it’s easy for us to unknowingly make bad choices. Sippy cups are great for children because they don’t tend to spill. Also because it’s a good transition from a bottle or breast since it requires them to use their tongue and mouth differently than they did when drinking from a bottle.

But, new studies have proven that the sippy cup is actually prolonging their development. Because sippy cups are so great at the non-spill part, they tend to get used for a much longer period, often spanning over several years. 

But Why Exactly Is This A Bad Thing?

The purpose of a sippy cup is to help a toddler transition from a baby bottle to a proper cup. At home, children tend to hold on to sippy cups longer than they should as a form of comfort. And this is where the major damage is done to the teeth. 

Prolonged use of a sippy cup with juice or another sugary drink in it can have a severe effect. It’s obvious long exposure to sugar is not good. If the drink in the cup is milk or juice, the sugar will increase the risk of tooth decay.

Extending the duration of sippy cups also increases the chance of bacteria growth. Once it has come into contact with the child’s mouth, sippy cups become a productive breeding ground for bacteria. This can enhance bacterial accumulation on the teeth.

Continuing the use of sippy cups also causes strong forces on the teeth. The forceful sucking of the cup can affect the way the teeth and jaws develop, possibly leading to orthodontic problems.

Why Else Can Sippy Cups Be Bad?

Letting your child use sippy cups longer than they should also interfere with their speech development. 

As convenient as a sippy cup is, some sippy cups can actually be detrimental to your child’s speech. Spouted cups sit over the front of the tongue with each swallow. When children only suck on the long spouts, they may not learn to develop what is termed a “mature swallow pattern”.

By 12 months of age, babies learn to lift and push up the tongue tip inside the mouths to swallow, just like an adult. When anything holds the tongue tip down with each swallow it can cause a tongue thrust and a delay in oral motor development. 

So sippy cups can cause difficulty in articulation and clarity of speech in children. 

How Can You Prevent These Issues?

Straws can be a great alternative to sippy cups. We recommend the spill-proof straw cup as a transition from bottle or nursing. This will help position your children’s tongues correctly for speech and give them the strength necessary to be more successful communicators.

Of course, before you introduce a straw cup you need to make sure your child can drink from a straw. Try Capri Sun or juice box to teach your child the concept of straw drinking!

AUTHOR: Montessori School of Downtown

It all began over 30 years ago with two newlyweds who were passionate about education. Together, Ms. Rita, a renowned professional educator, and Mr. Hersh, a natural teacher and entrepreneur, created a child care education program that focused on the concept of self-inspired learning.View all posts by Montessori School of Downtown |