The Problem with Sippy Cups

Sippy cups were designed for children to drink from a cup with reduced spillage, not to enhance children's feeding or speech development.

Some of the problems associated with sippy cups:

  • Hard spouts of sippy cups can interfere with the development of feeding skills. Infants use an anterior-posterior suckling pattern (front to back tongue movement) initially and should transition to a more mature swallowing pattern, involving tongue tip elevation by age one. Over-use of sippy cups can interfere with the development of these more mature patterns, which causes toddlers to continue using infant swallow patterns, potentially resulting in challenges with chewing and swallowing new foods.

  • If the tongue can't elevate, it tends to rest in a forward position. Prolonged or excessive use of sippy cups and continued anterior-posterior suckling patterns persisting beyond 6-12 months can impede the development of more advanced speech language skills.

  • A forward resting tongue may cause a persistent open-mouth posture, which can alter facial development. A tongue that rests low and forward can lead to a lower jaw posture and mouth breathing.

Alternatives to sippy cups include open cups, straw cups, or spill-proof rimmed cups.

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