WHAT IS A SIPPY CUP?

A sippy cup is kind of like a drinking glass with training wheels. The training wheels on a child’s bike keep it from falling over while allowing the rider to learn balance. Likewise, a sippy cup’s design keeps the mess in check as a kid graduates from breast or bottle. This is very convenient for parents. However, training wheels and sippy cups alike have to allow for some spills. Otherwise, the child won’t learn.

A CHILD’S FIRST SIPPY CUP

A child will likely be between 1 and 2 years old when weaned from breast or bottle. That means his or her manual dexterity isn’t yet well developed. Thus, sippy cups with two handles are ideal for beginners. Two other excellent design features are removable lids ( for cleaning) and weighted bottoms, for stability. The main thing is to make certain there isn’t a no-spill valve in the stem. These valves allow liquid to flow only when the child sucks on the spout. How’s that different from a bottle?

THE DOWNSIDES OF SIPPY CUPS

While providing children and parents with a less-messy transition from nipples, sippy cups are not without oral health issues. For one thing, the research data indicate a connection between sippy cups and tooth decay in kids. That’s a problem pediatric dentists see a lot of. Additionally, there’s concern in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) that mouthing the rigid spout impedes speech, language, and facial development. These are all serious issues, and parents need to be aware of them.

WHAT GOES IN, COMES OUT

It matters a lot what goes into a kid’s sippy cup. The best choice is water, preferably fluoridated water. Kids under 1-year-old have no business drinking sugary juices. If older kids are given juice, it should be at mealtimes when saliva flow helps rinse sugars from the teeth. Sugars are the problem.

THE PROPER ROLE OF SIPPY CUPS

Sippy cups provide an effective learning opportunity for kids. At the same time, it keeps the mess to a minimum, which parents appreciate. The trick is to reap the benefits while minimizing the risks.

The proper role of the sippy cup is as a transition tool. It’s not a long-term solution to messiness. It’s not a babysitter. Kids should be introduced to regular open cups early, perhaps at mealtimes with help and supervision. The transition to regular cups should be completed as soon as practicable. Sippy cups, when offered, should be for drinking and moving on. They’re not comforters, and kids shouldn’t be hanging on to them for prolonged periods of time.

Dr. Popper at Junior Smiles will gladly answer any questions you have about sippy cups. He can also identify signs of excessive or improper use during a child’s checkups.

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