When infants are ready to transition away from breast or bottle feeding, many well-meaning parents offer their child a sippy cup as a next step. However, you may want to skip the sippy cup to help protect your child's teeth. Here's why...
For children who have outgrown baby bottles, or are transitioning away from the breast, sippy cups appear to be a logical next step. They're also handy for preventing messy spills as young children learn to drink from a cup without the help of a grownup.
However, allowing your child to frequently drink from sippy cups can lead to a number of dental health issues.
Each time your child takes a drink from a sippy cup, their six upper front teeth are immersed in the liquid. When the sippy cup contains something sweet like juice or milk, your child's teeth are being bathed in sugar frequently throughout the day, which can quickly lead to tooth decay. Tooth decay, if left untreated, could result in pain or infection, and require treatment or the teeth may even need to be extracted.
In order to prevent tooth decay, you should only allow your child to drink water from a sippy cup.
Lack of Appetite
Children tend to take frequent drinks if they are permitted to carry around a sippy cup between meals. Often this can lead to a lack of appetite for healthy foods when mealtime rolls around. One idea is to only allow your child to use a sippy cup at snack times and meal times so that they can enjoy a drink along with healthy foods.
Delay in Speech Development
Sippy cup spouts rest over the front of the child's tongue when they swallow. The spout holding the tip of the child's tongue down could lead to a delay in speech development and oral motor development.
Teaching your child early to use a straw, or drink from an open cup, is a good way to avoid future issues. That said, don't fret if you occasionally feel the need to offer your child a sippy cup for the sake of your sanity. Occasional use isn't likely to cause any harm.