Why We Need to Stop Using Sippy Cups
A sippy cup is not the first thing that comes to mind when we think about a child developing a delay. In fact it’s something most parents don’t pay any attention to, until it becomes a problem. However, hard sippy cups spouts can affect the swallowing development as a baby matures. It also affects tongue elevation, making the tongue rest forward in the child’s mouth, which can cause a speech and language delay. Lastly, when a tongue rests forward, a child’s mouth tends to stay open, altering appropriate facial development. In this blog post we will cover these problems more in depth and provide some alternatives to use instead.
Hard sippy cups spouts can affect swallowing development as a baby matures.
Around the age of one a child begins to develop a mature swallow pattern, differing from when the baby is born. When a baby is born, they use mostly a forward-backward movement to move soft food and liquid. However, drinking exclusively from a bottle or hard-spouted sippy cup might delay this feeding development. A bottle and/or sippy cup spout rest over the front of the tongue, impeding the elevation a child needs to produce in order to develop a mature swallow pattern. Otherwise, when new foods are introduced to the child it may present to be difficult for them to eat.
It affects tongue elevation, making the tongue rest forward in the child’s mouth,
which can cause a speech and language delay. Often referred to as “paci-mouth,” the forward resting posture is seen in children who continue to use a pacifier for a prolonged period. Although, occasionally using a sippy cup won’t interfere with age-appropriate mouth
development; using it consistently throughout the day will. As touched on in the previous
paragraph, when a child uses an immature (forward-backward) swallowing pattern past the
appropriate developmental time frame (6- 12 months), their speech and language skills will not become more advanced until a more mature swallowing pattern is established.
When a tongue rests forward, a child’s mouth tends to stay open, altering appropriate facial development. This position also increases a child’s jaw muscles to lower, which can lead to mouth breathing. There is more information that can be found on mouth breathing and the detriments associated with mouth breathing in the references below.
Some alternatives to sippy cups:
1. Pop-up straw cups (Playtex Sipster), guaranteed by Playtex to be leak-free.
2. Valved toppers (Good2Grow Spill-Proof Bottle Toppers), these character bottle toppers
also help motivate kids to drink more water .
3. Aluminum options with built-in straws (Kid Basix Safe Sippy Cup) with straws
specifically designed to be short and angled for little mouths.
1. Lee, SY., Guilleminault, C., Chiu, HY. et al. Mouth breathing, “nasal disuse,” and pediatric
sleep-disordered breathing. Sleep Breath 19, 1257–1264 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11325-015-1154-6
2. Potock, Melanie. Sippy cups: 3 reasons to skip them and what to offer instead. ASHA Wire
(Feb. 27, 2017). https://leader.pubs.asha.org/do/10.1044/sippy-cups-3-reasons-to-skipthem-and-what-to-offer-instead/full/