Sippy cup safety: What parents need to know

Sippy cups can lead to very real problems with a child’s dental health, speech development, and eating habits.

Sippy cup safety: What parents need to know
 There are pros and cons of letting your child drink from a sippy cup.

If you’re like most parents, your toddler’s sippy cup hasn’t gotten much thinking beyond whether it’s leakproof and will prevent stains on your child’s clothes, carpet, and car upholstery.

However, there are various safety concerns with sippy cup use, ranging from poor cleaning to mouth damage to long-term dental disorders. Here’s everything you need to know to guarantee your toddler’s sippy is as safe as possible.

Is a sippy cup required for toddlers?

A sippy cup isn’t strictly necessary, but it sure is handy. It is preferable to wean your child off bottles by the age of 18 months. The reasoning behind this is to prevent tooth decay that can occur when children’s teeth are exposed to milk sugars for long periods of time. This is when baby sippy cups tend to become part of the equation.

There are some potential benefits to using a baby sippy cup.

  • Sippy cups can keep children hydrated in a spill-proof fashion, without requiring an enormous amount of clean-up.
  • They can help kids understand their own thirst.
  • They can be part of a variety of different cups parents use to help children understand different situations or to simply develop drinking skills.

The dangers of using a sippy cup

While sippy cups might not provide the same obvious danger to your child as the chemicals under your sink or a flight of stairs without a baby gate, there are certain risks to using them.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

Mould: Mould or mildew can grow in your child’s cup due to moisture trapped in the spout, straw, or valve, and the general difficulty of cleaning some models of sippy cups. Mould growth might cause illness or other symptoms in your child if you do not completely clean your child’s sippy cups after each use.

Mouth injury: Children regularly visit the emergency room for mouth injuries caused by sippy cup use. The majority of these injuries occur when a child falls while using a sippy cup, so children should only use sippy cups when seated.

Improper development: Constantly sipping from a hard spout can alter the development of a child’s mouth cavity. This can affect a child’s speech development, the requirement for orthodontia, and even their quality of sleep and face aesthetics in the long run.

Increased health risks: Sippy cups can encourage children to acquire bad behaviours, leading to unfavourable health outcomes such as cavities and obesity.

Sippy cup safety recommendations

To reduce the hazards to your child’s safety while using a sippy, do the following:

  • Always properly clean your child’s sippy cups to prevent mould and mildew growth.
  • Keep in mind that hard spouts are popular, but they represent the greatest fall risk — and they lack the flexibility of a standard silicone spout or nipple, which is necessary for appropriate oral growth.
  • Skip the sippy and go straight for a standard cup if you’re up for it. You’ll probably have to clean up a lot of spills, but your child will rapidly learn how to use a cup, and you’ll avoid the health and dental issues that might arise from using a sippy cup as a crutch.
  • Consider using a rimless cup for a brief transitional period to teach your child how to use a lidless cup at a young age, or only put a little liquid in their cup at a time to limit the mess until they get the hang of it.
  • If you opt to use sippy cups, keep them to a minimum and wean your child off of them by their third birthday. They have the necessary motor abilities to properly manoeuvre a cup at that point, even if they are still prone to accidents.
  • Set a firm date for when you want to wean your child from the sippy cup.
  • Let your child use sippy cups like you would a spill-proof coffee mug – only when necessary, on the go, and in very specific situations.