Sippy Cups and Kids Teeth

What Parents Need to Know About Sippy Cups

As you know, Sippy cups are used to help children transition from breast or bottle feeding to drinking using a cup they can hold on to. The use of these cups is usually introduced when a child has developed sufficient motor skills to firmly grasp one, typically at around six to eight months of age.

Once the child further develops his motor skills, the use of regular cups can be introduced around the age of two. However, many parents encourage the use of sippy cups even once their little ones are willing and  capable of using regular cups simply because sippy cups are less messy. 

Unknown to many parents, the prolonged use of sippy cups can be bad for their children’s teeth. One adverse side effect of prolonged sippy cup use is pediatric cavities, also known as baby bottle cavities.

When you give your child a cup filled with juice, his mouth is constantly exposed to sugars. When this happens, the bacteria in his mouth can feed on these sugars and produce acids which are harmful to baby teeth.

How can you prevent this dental problem as well as other problems associated with prolonged sippy cup use? Here are a few helpful tips.

Finding the right sippy cup

Contrary to what many new parents may believe, not all sippy cups are the same. This simply means that you should not grab the first or cheapest sippy cup that you can find in your local store.

According to the American Dental Association, parents should steer clear from sippy cups with “no-spill valves”. These valves can hamper the development of your child’s sipping skills. Worse, sippy cups with these valves encourage more sugars to swirl around your little one’s mouth if you are giving them juice. The downside to some of these “no spill valve” cups is they can be prone to leaks and the fluids may come out too fast for your child. It’s a good idea to test out a few different brands. 

Instead of buying a sippy cup with a “no-spill valve”, we recommend that you opt for one with either a snap-on or a screwing spout. These cups help your child develop good drinking habits.

Another suggestion is to choose a sippy cup with two handles instead of just one. This will make it easier for your child to develop the motor skills to grasp a normal cup.

A few dos and don’ts

One of the most important things that parents can do to prevent the adverse side effects of sippy cups is to stop their children from using these cups when they can use normal cups. 

As much as possible, avoid giving your child drink sugary drinks from any cup. Do not let your child carry and use his sippy cup all day long. Instead, put the cup away or out of reach when he is done drinking. Unless the  cup contains water, do not let your child take it to bed. Remember, kids adapt easily to change so if you have started giving them sugary drinks it’s not too late to change. Breaking bad habits is much easier at a young age. 

Try not offer the cup to your child as a means to comfort him. This will just make it harder for you to wean him away from it. If you have already gotten them into the habit, don’t worry. Just like pacifiers and other comfort items, breaking the habit is typically harder for the parent than the child. 

Finally, wash and rinse the sippy cup as often as possible to prevent the buildup of germs and unseen bacteria. 

For more tips on pediatric dental health be sure to surf on over and check out our post on the how to care for baby teeth.

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