As pediatric feeding specialist, speech-language pathologist, and mom of 3 young girls I often get asked my opinion on bottles and sippy cups. So here are the facts:
At age 12 months, the American Pediatrics Association recommends beginning to transition your child off the bottle and being completely rid of it by 2 years of age. Why? Sippy cups encourage an immature suckle pattern similar to the bottle. This immature sucking pattern encourages the tongue toprotrude forward instead of allowing the tongue to elevate and move backwards in the mouth. A prolonged immature suckle pattern encourages a “tongue thrust”.
So, “what’s the big deal if my child has a tongue thrust?”
Risk factors for prolonged use of sippy cups and bottles:
- Difficulty with speech sounds (e.g. lisps, “s”, “d”, “t) by preventing the development of muscles needed for speech.
- Open bite and need for braces due to tongue pushing forward on teeth.
- Increased teeth decay. The spill-less valve feature makes very convenient for kids to carry around drink sugary liquid throughout the day.
- Increase in ear infections. Kids often tilt their head back to drink sippy cups, which encourages liquid to go to the Eustachian tube.
Transitions can be difficult for everyone, including the caregivers! Every child is different with different needs, but here are some things to encourage your child off the bottle/sippy cup.
- Begin with having your child become familiar with a cup from an early age. Have your child play with it when giving solid foods. He/she can practice taking small sips while seated in a high chair. Open cups and recessed lids work well!
- Straw cups can be a great alternative to a sippy cup. There are many valved straw cups that have the wonderful no spill feature.
The spill proof sippy cup was made available as commercial product for the convenience of parents and caregivers in the early 90s. Believe me my carpets have their fair share of spills and stains, but there are some great valve straw and recessed lid cups options.
If you have any questions about transitioning your kids from bottles and sippy cups, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to help!