Did you know that sippy cups can impact your child’s speech? I didn’t until a few months ago!
My sippy cup cupboard was overflowing with mismatched pieces and million different brands and types. I needed to de-clutter! So to simplify my life I decided to pick one brand and style and stock up on that. I started looking into which cup was best, which cup wouldn’t spill, which was most recommended, and so on. That’s when I found myself going down a rabbit hole. I quickly learned that no two sippy cups were alike and that some of my favorite sippies could actually impact my child’s speech development.
The basic science behind it goes something like this: as a baby goes from suckling (either nursing or from a bottle) to eating more solid foods, their tongue and swallow pattern starts to develop as well. Babies start to develop a distinct swallow pattern while eating more advanced textures like baby food at around a year old. Their tongue tip rises to the top of the mouth and makes a wave-like motion, developing a more mature swallow pattern. Essentially, a sippy cup with a spout can physically block the tongue from being where it should be, and can inhibit this development of their tongue movement. You can learn more about the science of this here.
By solely using a bottle or spouted sippy past the appropriate age, a child’s feeding development and speech ability could be negatively impacted. Compared to using a pacifier this may seem pretty trivial, but if you think about how often your child has access to a sippy, you may start to see potential impact -- in the car, stroller, at mealtimes, during quiet time, and maybe even throughout the night if you allow it, your child may have access to a sippy all day!
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) suggest that we stop using bottles at 18 months old. However, many speech therapists take this a step further, stating that, ideally, a child would be able to drink from a straw or regular open cup, with assistance, starting at nine months. And by 18 months, they should be able to drink from an open cup independently.
If you just openly gasped at that thought, don’t worry I did too. As a realistic parent, it doesn’t seem like my sanity could handle that kind of timeline with our busy schedule. I would be cleaning up spills all day long! So if you’re like me and your life requires your toddler to have a lid on her cup, don’t worry -- there are still plenty of options out there for us!
First and foremost, straw sippies or water bottles are the best alternatives to open-mouthed cups. Consider spill-proof straw tumblers or the Snug Straw with Cup. In our home, we love using water bottles with built-in straws. For the most part, they seem to be leak-proof and stand the test of time with rough playing kids!
Next up are my personal favorite: spoutless sippies. The Munchkin Miracle 360 cups are spill-proof and easy to clean! There are many other brands with this similar rim design, giving you plenty of options!