Today, sippy cups are marketed to parents as a vital piece of feeding equipment, causing parents to consider sippy cups an essential part of a baby’s development. As a speech-language pathologist and feeding specialist, Melanie Potock couldn't disagree more. In a recent ASHA Leader blog post, Melanie states her case.
Here are three great reasons to skip the sippy cup:
#1: As a baby matures, so does their swallow pattern, and over-use of hard sippy spouts may get in the way of development.
During the first year of life, a baby primarily uses an anterior-posterior tongue movement to propel soft solids and liquids to the back of the mouth for swallowing. This is referred to as the infant suckle-swallow pattern. At around a year old, babies should develop a mature swallow pattern, where the tongue tip rises to the alveolar ridge (the bumpy gum-line ridges where we produce the /d/ sound) to start a wave-like motion in the tongue for swallowing more advanced textures. Drinking exclusively from a bottle or hard-spouted sippy cup might delay this feeding development. A bottle nipple or hard spout rests over the front third of the tongue, preventing that essential elevation so necessary for being an effective and efficient eater. When toddlers continue to use the infant swallow pattern, chewing and swallowing new foods can be challenging or messy at best.
#2: When a tongue can’t elevate, it tends to rest forward in the mouth, which can impede speech and language development.
Often referred to as “paci-mouth,” the forward resting posture is seen in children who continue to use a pacifier for a prolonged period. The occasional use of a sippy cup may not interfere with age-appropriate mouth development. In today’s society, however, kids seem to have sippy cups with them most of the day. Strollers, car seats and backpacks usually contain special holders for a beverage container and parents often choose spill-proof, hard-spout sippy cups. When a child uses a “suckle-swallow” pattern past the developmental time frame of 6 to 12 months, hisspeech-language skills can’t migrate to more advanced skills until a more appropriate swallowing pattern is established.
#3: When a tongue rests forward, the mouth tends to stay open, which can alter appropriate facial development.
Kristie Gatto, certified SLP and orofacial myologist, states that the overuse of the suckle-swallow uses genioglossus muscle movement and promotes a tongue that rests low and forward in the oral cavity. This posturing exacerbates the lowering of the jaw musculature and typically leads to mouth breathing. Current research helps facilitate a betterunderstanding of the detriments associated with mouth breathing and a lack of appropriate facial development. If you want more information about the serious downsides of mouth breathing, click here to link to read a previous Spontaneous Speech blog post: 10 Good Reasons to Stop Mouth Breathing Now.
What to Offer Instead
Terrific alternatives can still protect from spills:
Pop-up straw cups, like the Playtex Sipster, are guaranteed to be leak-free. Oncethe child masters straw drinking, it is recommended that parents cut down the straw so the tip of the straw just reaches the tip of the tongue when the mouth is closed around the straw. This ensures the tongue can still elevate.
Fun valved toppers, like the Good2Grow Spill-Proof Bottle Toppers, are a great alternative to the sippy cup. These character bottle toppers also helpmotivate kids to drink more water.
Aluminum options with built-in straws, like the Kid Basix Safe Sippy Cup, feature a straw specifically designed to be short and angled for little mouths.
No Matter What...
children learn todrink from a straw cup by 9 months
children learn to drink from on open cup, held by a parent, in the first year of life
independent open cup drinking should be learned by 18 months
Selecting the most appropriate cup for drinking promotes proper development of speech, language and facial features.
If you're concerned about feeding or swallowing difficulties or facial muscle, speech or language development, contact Spontaneous Speech Therapy today. Our therapists are available to answer questions, make recommendations and provide evidence based treatment for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school aged children.
Call us at 361-271-1700 to set up an appointment for a free consultation. In the meantime, please like and share this post with someone that might benefit.
Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate.