Why Saying "No" to the Sippy Cup is the Way to Go!
Ask any mom if they’d like to switch to a product for their child that reduces messes and spills, is affordable, and is super convenient and you’re bound to get a resounding yes! However, sometimes (and maybe more often than we care to admit!) convenience and ease can come with not-so-great consequences. That’s why, we as Speech Language Pathologists who have studied feeding and swallowing development, urge you to ditch the sippy cup! Here are some reasons why:
The sippy cup was developed for parents, not for kids. As children grow and develop, so, too, does their feeding and swallowing pattern. In order to successfully chew and swallow food as well as successfully learn to drink from an open cup, children’s oral structures need to mature from an anterior-posterior tongue movement (“suckle”) to a more mature wavelike movement of the tongue. This wavelike advanced swallowing pattern starts with the tongue tip elevating to the alveolar ridge and creating a wavelike pattern to fully push whatever food or liquid is on top of the tongue up and back toward your throat so that you can swallow it. Think about a sippy cup. The sippy cup’s spout rests on the front part of a child’s tongue, which prevents the tongue tip from elevating and thus the tongue resorts to the more infantile anterior-posterior movement. Continued use of the sippy cup can further delay/prevent maturation of the swallow pattern, which can result in a child having difficulty eating and swallowing….which also means messier feeding!
Continued use of a sippy cup past 6-12 months of age can also impact speech and language development! Yikes! In order for the oral structures to mature and for a child’s speech skills to develop, their oral structures need to develop too. Just as continued pacifier use can negatively affect speech (and also dentition), repeatedly using a sippy cup day after day for meals, snacks, car rides and everything in between can impede the oral structures from growing as they need to! While we love working with children on their speech and language skills, what we’d love even more is for your child not to need our help at all!
It should be noted that due to medical reasons or feeding issues, a sippy cup may be best (at least for a certain period of time) for your child - this is something your physician or a licensed Speech Language Pathologist would be able to further assess and determine if it is necessary.
So what can I use for my 9 month old to drink? A straw cup is a great for transitioning from the breast or bottle to eventually an open cup! Really, my not even 1-year-old can drink from a straw? Yes, they can! There are many great straw cup options made for kids that are still relatively easy-to-use and don’t create too much of a mess. They can even close and be stored in your diaper bag for easy traveling! Some of our favorites are linked at the bottom of the page.
As both Moms and Speech Language Pathologists we totally understand wanting to make your life easier - trust us, we are all about simplifying life! However, (just like with all devices/techniques/etc) before you cash in on an easier and more convenient sippy cup, we urge you to think of the possible repercussions...and go straight to the straw!
For any feeding, speech, language or social concerns, please reach out to either of us co-owners: Liz Dunn (Liz@thespeechspotstl.com) or 618-or Kate Robertson (firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-626-4761)!
Cups we love and use with our own kids! The Speech Spot has no affiliation with these products.
-Potock, Melanie. (2014). Step Away From the Sippy Cup! https://leader.pubs.asha.org/do/10.1044/step-away-from-the-sippy-cup/full/ Accessed 19 November 2020.
-Potock, Melanie. (2017). Sippy Cups: 3 Reasons to Skip Them and What To Offer Instead.https://leader.pubs.asha.org/do/10.1044/sippy-cups-3-reasons-to-skip-them-and-what-to-offer-instead/full/ Accessed 21 November 2020.