Say No to Sippy Cups!
When it comes time for parents to choose a cup for their child, believe it or not, some cups are better than others when it comes to speech and feeding skills! Delaying the use of cups or choosing cups with hard spouts can have negative consequences on both speech and language development and the development of a mature swallowing pattern. As speech-language pathologists, we are here to help parents know when to introduce cups, how to make the transition from bottles to cups, and which cups we recommend!
When to Introduce Cups
We recommend that you introduce drinking water from a cup around the age of 6 months, or around the time they can sit independently. This is also when most children are ready to start eating solid foods. Offering them a small amount of water with their meals can help to wash the food down. Transitioning to cups is a process, so starting early helps children to become familiar and comfortable with cup drinking.
When to Wean From the Bottle
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies begin to be weaned from bottles at 12 months of age and be completely weaned by 18 months of age. As speech-language pathologists, we agree with this stance and will explain why below. We also advise parents to stay away from sippy cups when weaning from the bottle, especially those with hard spouts, as these cause similar problems to extended bottle use. The sooner you can transition from bottles to cups after 12 months, the better!
Why is this so important? Extended bottle use and the use of sippy cups can lead to:
An immature swallow pattern: From infancy through 1 year of age, children use an immature swallow pattern with a suckling pattern. At 12 months of age, children are ready to begin using a more mature swallow pattern. Extended bottle use and the use of sippy cups keeps the tongue in such a position that they are not able to advance in developing a more mature swallow. As a result, speech therapy may be required for some children to retrain the tongue and mouth movements needed for more mature swallowing.
Delayed speech development: Bottle nipples and hard spouts rest in the front of the mouth, preventing the tongue from elevating properly. When the tongue cannot be elevated, it tends to rest in a more forward position in the mouth, also known as a “tongue thrust”. This negatively affects children’s ability to produce speech sounds correctly, as their tongue tends to move forward in the mouth, resulting in a lisp.
Alteration of typical facial development: When the tongue rests forward, children tend to keep their mouth open. Long periods of open mouth posture can alter facial development and lead to breathing and sleep difficulties.
How to Wean from Bottles to Cups
We recommend starting slowly with bottle weaning while you introduce cups. Every child learns how to use and be comfortable with a cup at a different pace.
Start with an open cup. You can use one of the EZPZ cups recommended below or a shot glass. While the learning process to use an open cup can be messy, starting to learn early will help your child learn the correct, mature swallow pattern. While they are young, you will need to lift the cup to their mouth, but as they grow your child will be able to hold the cup themselves.
Move on to straw cups. After your child has become more comfortable with small, open cups, it is time to introduce straw cups. While open cups are always best, we understand the need for a convenient option for your child that is less messy and more portable than an open cup. Start with a simple straw cup that you can squeeze for the liquid to come up through the straw while your child is figuring out how to drink from straws. Once they have figured out how to drink from a straw, you can start using straw cups that are more advanced that your baby can suck independently. Keep offering open cups and straw cups so your child is comfortable with a variety of cups. You may choose to do open cups for meals and straw cups when out and about.
Which Cups We Recommend
When choosing a cup for your child, an open cup is always best. However, we understand that this is not always practical for young children and families on the move. When not using an open cup, we advise choosing a straw cup. We do NOT recommend using cups with hard spouts, commonly referred to as sippy cups. Here are a few cups we recommend, as well as options we do not recommend.
1st Cup: EZPZ Tiny Cup
Green Sprouts Cup
Simple Straw Cups
Honey Bear Cup
Munchkin Weighted Straw Cup
Advanced Straw Cups
OXO Tot Transitions Straw Cup
Take And Toss Straw Cup
ANY hard spouted sippy cup
Munchkin Miracle 360 Cups
The speech-language pathologists at Talk Time are here to help! If you have questions about your child's development, including their feeding and drinking skills, contact us!