Aren’t sippy cups great? They give our precious toddlers something to occupy their hands, fill their tummies, and build motor skills and independence. But – not so fast. As more and more sippy cup manufacturers are having to recall their products due to safety issues, it’s time to look more closely at whether sippy cups are actually good for your little ones.
On the upside, sippy cups offer a variety of benefits to the children using them and their families. They become a tool a toddler can use to self soothe while improving coordination and self-feeding skills. Because they have lids with devices like valves that prevent liquids from seeping out, parents like them for their ability to prevent messy spills – and children like them because they signify a graduation from the bottle or breast… making them “big kids.”
But on the downside, sippy cups pose a number of hazards – the most significant of which was the subject of a 10-year study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about sippy cups’ role in falling injuries. Toddlers – already challenged by weak and newfound walking skills – tend to take their sippy cups with them wherever they roam. The problem is that these toddlers drink from their sippy cups while in motion, and drinking makes it impossible for them to see where they are going. The resulting falls can cause injury – even serious ones, but most commonly lacerations of the mouth. The AAP estimates that one child is treated in an emergency room every four hours for fall injuries sustained during the use of sippy cups, bottles, or pacifiers.
Wait – There’s More
That alone is compelling reason enough to plan transitioning your toddler from a sippy cup to an open cup. But there’s more. Practitioners find that sippy cup use correlates with a higher incidence of speech problems in toddlers, just like thumb sucking, and can cause teeth to become misplaced over time.
The AAP recommends you transition your child to an open cup by 12 months of age – but if your toddler is resistant, some physicians may recommend using a straw cup as a way to transition your toddler from a bottle to an open cup. You may still enjoy the main benefits of a sippy cup while allowing your toddler to avoid the falls associated with tipping the head back while drinking and walking at the same time. However, we still recommend that you only offer drinks to toddlers and other small children when they can be seated, rather than walking around – and that children are transitioned to open cups as soon after their first birthdays as possible.
If you’d like recommendations on how to transition your child to an open cup, contact a Kelsey-Seybold pediatrician for helpful advice. We can help you create a plan that works for you and your child.