The Troublesome Sippy Cup

We all know how it’s going to play out if the kid gets his hands on a regular cup, don’t we? Soon, the food, the spoon or both will be thoroughly jammed into the cup at first chance, while the contents are marinating your bundle of joy, and the simple task of walking across the floor gets to be a sticky experience. This is why the sippy cup has gained in popularity over the years, at the table and in the couch alike, in spite of the fact that the child should practice drinking out of an ordinary cup as soon as she has mastered the sippy. Because even if it might spare you of some cleaning, there are undisputable benefits of throwing out the sippy cup as soon as possible.

The difference between a regular cup and a sippy cup is obvious at first sight: the liquid tends to stay in the sippy cup a bit longer, so that your child gets to actually drink more of it during the day. This is all well and good, because the consumption of fluids is important. We need to encourage that, but there is still a very big but here: this only applies if this fluid is water and nothing else. As soon as you child gets its first tooth, the danger of cavities enter the picture.

A child who is constantly walking around with a sippy cup, will bathe his teeth in whatever is in it. Juice is very acidic, and it can damage the enamel fairly quickly. And sugar, as I’m sure you are well aware, will increase the risk of caries and other calamities. We want to avoid that as best we can, and one of the things we can do to prevent it, is to limit these fluids. It’s OK to be thirsty and have a glass of juice in the kitchen, but there is a big difference in that and in walking around with the sippy cup all of the time.

There are also other aspects of the sippy cup to consider, that we may not reflect much upon in everyday life. It is a fact that most of them are made from plastic, and you are not guaranteed that the manufacturers stay away from PVC and BPA. Little teeth and play things scratch the plastic, so that toxic particles can potentially leak out into your child’s mouth. This means that your baby is getting tiny doses of a substance that has been shown to have a disruptive effect on hormones in mice, and he is getting that on a regular basis. In fact, he is getting that every time he takes a sip.

The sippy cups were originally ment to be  training cups, where the child would practice taking sips. The problem is that they don’t necessarily accomplish that mission anymore, since the child actually have to suck to get to drink. Yes, there is less spilling, but the child learns nothing more than to suck in a different manner than before! Make sure you remove that tiny plastic piece (if there is one) from underneath the lid, that is supposed to keep the liquid from flowing out if the cup gets turned upside down. This makes the fluid run in a more natural manner, and your child gets the chance to learn how to drink it without having to suck.

When this task is mastered, you can slowly remove the lid alltogether and let your child drink from the cup. If you let him do this, it will also have a positive effect on the muscles in his oral cavity, which are not suited for a life with rounded, perked lips at any rate.

You see, there are two things that happens to a child who hangs on to the sippy cup for too long. Apart from the potential damage from the non-water  liquid, the sippy itself will also have an impact on the placement of his teeth. This may mean an expensive and painful time with braces later on.

The other thing is that she uses her oral cavity muscles differently when she sips compared to when she drinks. These are the same muscles she needs to develop in order to speak properly, and in many cases you can tell the difference between the children who has used sippy cups and pacifiers a lot, in contrast to the ones who haven’t. Some of them have problems speaking properly, because of the delayment of development caused by these inventions. If this is to continue for too long, it may lead to more permanent speech problems.

The best we can do is to let children be allowed to grow up naturally, without adding to much special equipment – and that includes the sippy cup.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Randy Son Of Robert

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