Due to their special design, sippy cups are supposed to make babies getting used to drinking like adults, without having their clothes stained by frequent spills.
They are also considered to help improve the child’s hand-to-mouth coordination. As the baby starts to develop the fine motor skills to handle a cup but can’t control his drink without spilling it, a sippy cup can provide some independence, both for the baby and for the parents.
Unfortunately, the benefits that sippy cups can bring are questionable in comparison with the potential risks. Did you think that baby teeth are not as important as adult teeth because they fall out? As a matter of fact, cavities in baby teeth are relevant for the evolution of the adult teeth and can affect the development of the mouth. The Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is a result of the use of sippy cups because covered cups and baby bottles are facilitating the development of cavities.
There are also other arguments that should be analyzed before getting your toddler using a sippy cup.
Sippy cups affect the development of the oral cavity
Babies grow accustomed to sucking their mother’s breast because the breast has the best fit for the normal development of the baby’s mouth. The nipple is soft and takes the shape needed for the child to suck the milk, thus facilitating the correct formation of all oral structures such as the jawbone, the palate, the teeth and the overall shape of the oral cavity.
Meanwhile, sippy cups are rigid and the cover of the cup forces the mouth to adapt its shape to the shape of the plastic. While you might not see any immediate problems, your child might encounter problems later in the development of speech, the airway, facial form and mouth functionalities like swallowing.
Many parents switch from the baby bottle to the sippy cup because they know that baby bottles hold the risk of impeding the normal development of speech abilities. However, if a baby uses the sippy cup for too long, the same risk and several more appear.
The prolonged use of sippy cups may delay the development of oral motor skills. Children might encounter difficulties in pronouncing certain words or making certain sounds. That doesn’t mean that sippy cups are the reason for all types of speech problems confronted by toddlers. But parents should reduce the dependence on it, to avoid the potential for these issues.
Baby tooth decay
Once given a sippy cup, many toddlers develop the habit of always keeping it in the mouth or even falling asleep with it. The design of sippy cups makes the liquid stay at the base of teeth for a longer period, and if you are giving your child juice or sweetened tea, the sugar will coat the teeth and cavities will appear. In fact, any liquid other than water can affect baby teeth and cause caries and decay. Cavities in baby teeth affect the later development of adult teeth and may cause years of problems that will require dental insurance to cover.
Predisposition to obesity
We give our children sippy cups because we want to give them something to help them drink liquids without spilling. Many toddlers become so attached to the sippy cups that they hold them even in bed. In some cases, they use their sippy cups instead of pacifiers to calm down. In this way, parents are also teaching them they can have a sweetened drink by their side whenever they want or need — even nonstop — and this habit can stay throughout their maturation process. The consumption of soft drinks is among the highest responsible factors for maintaining the rate of obesity.
What is the alternative?
Children can live happily without sippy cups. If you need to teach your toddler to stop using the baby bottle, get him used to drinking from a normal glass filled halfway to reduce the amount of liquid that can be spilled. Children are fast learners; they will get used to a normal cup in no time.
Teach your kids to drink water instead of fruit juices or soft drinks. While juices can seem full of nutrients and vitamins, they are concentrated in sugar and less nutritious. Sugary drinks shouldn’t be part of your child’s diet; it’s better to give him raw fruits than processed drinks. Cultivate the habit of drinking water every day for your children. Otherwise, as adults, they will struggle to reach the level of hydration needed daily.
If you still feel that a sippy cup is better for your child, don’t allow your toddler to grow an attachment to the object. Teach him that food is food and water is water. They should not replace one another. Therefore, take the cup away when your child is not thirsty, and don’t make his sippy cup a constant presence on the table. Failing to do so might cause your child to grow up with a dependence on food and super-sized drinks.
We know that sippy cups are extremely convenient for a wide range of situations, such as around the house, in the car or the stroller, preventing the messes that children usually make with food. When the time comes for your baby to give up on baby bottles, search for alternatives before introducing him to sippy cups. There are numerous variants of spill-proof straw cups that might delight your child even more. Evaluate both, the benefits and the risks and make the best decision for you and your baby.