As February closes out so does another National Children’s Dental Health Month. I thought I would take a little time to talk about the Sippy Cup and how it seems like they have become a new security blanket, after all, you see kids with their hands latched to them out at the store just like Linus always had his hand latched onto his blanket.
Most parents are thrilled when their child is no longer breast feeding or on a bottle, but less than thrilled when their toddler spills his/her milk or juice when using a regular cup. Enter the sippy cup, or spill proof cup or glorified baby bottle. As a parent, you need to ask yourself, what do you want to do now that the bottle is done? Do you want a mess free, no spill life with your toddler having a cup for a pacifier or do you want to help them transition into learning how to use a real cup or glass? If you want no mess, then by all means buy the spill proof cups which really are just bottles of a different design. While designs may vary, they require sucking not sipping or drinking as we do. If you want to help them learn to drink without sucking, use a regular cup. If you want to minimize the spills, choose one with two handles. You can find them with a spout, but not a valve. The valve requires sucking, the open spout can still spill, but just not the whole cup at once. They can also be found with weighted bases to help keep them upright.
What should you put in the cup? The answer to that depends on when you are giving it to them. If you allow them to have it whenever they want, it should just have water in it, preferably with fluoride. The fluoride is good for their developing teeth and if they spill it, it is just water. If they can pick it up whenever they want and sip it, like some adults do with their 64 oz megacups, it should not have milk or juice in it. Each sip lowers the pH in the mouth, softening teeth and giving any cavity producing bacteria present another chance to create a cavity. If you use it at mealtime, by all means put milk in it, it is good for bone and tooth formation. If you use juice at meal time, just be aware of age appropriate limits.
If you are using cups they can truly sip from and not suck from, use small amounts. If they do spill, it isn’t as big of a mess to clean up.
And remember, accidents can happen, not just the spilling kind. Don’t let them walk around with the cup in their mouth; if they fall, they might injure a tooth.