According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies can begin drinking from a sippy cup once they attain the age of 6 months. By the time the baby is 12 months old, you can wean him or her off the bottle. The reason for doing this is because, at 12 months, the baby has learned to walk and can now carry the sippy cup. Also, weaning the baby from the bottle promotes proper oral development.
Sippy cups are available in different shapes and sizes. They are made from BPA free plastic, glass or stainless steel. As a new mom, you have the choice of different models. Designed to ease how your baby takes liquids, sippy cups promote child development as the child will use his or her mouth and tongue. Sippy cups can also improve hand to mouth coordination which helps to keep the drink from spilling.
Qualities of a good sippy cup
Shopping for a new sippy cup can be a daunting task. The good news is you can make your shopping experience to be easy by checking for the following qualities.
Spout vs Spoutless vs Straw
The parts above are the most confusing for parents. Yes, the jargon seems to be different but their functionality is similar. Take the spout for example. A good sippy cup has a soft spout. As you already know, kids love to chew on stuff and that is why its made from silicone. The spout is bite-proof and prevents the chances of nibbling little holes.
A spoutless model has no straw or spout. It comes with a sealed lip. This allows liquid to be sucked and never leaks. It is easy to use and enables the baby to transition from the bottle to the cup much easier.
The last option is the straw model. It has a narrow opening and enables the baby to suck drinks from the cup. This model is best introduced when the baby has learned to hold and drink from a spouted model.
Sippy cups come with two handles on the side for easier handling. Training your baby to use a sippy cup improves hand to mouth coordination. Also, you train your baby how to drink without spilling and builds independence.
There are three materials used in the making of a sippy cup. You have stainless steel, glass, and BPA free plastic. BPA free plastic is the most common and one of the safest. Unlike ordinary plastic which leaks chemicals into the liquids, BPA free plastic does not. This ensures that your baby is protected from harmful chemicals.
Introducing a sippy cup
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a sippy cup be introduced when the baby is 6 months to 9 months old. When parents introduce a baby on using a sippy cup, they demonstrate to the baby that liquids can come from other sources apart from bottles and mommy’s breast. An early start on using a sippy cup makes it easy to transition to the cup itself. So, how can you help your toddler adopt the sippy cup faster?
#1. Find the right cup
Earlier, we listed the qualities of a good sippy cup. Some of the qualities we listed include handles, type of material used to make the sippy cup and the spout. Also, we listed other options – spoutless and straw. As a parent, having the right sippy cup makes the transition easy. For instance, if you buy a sturdy and spill proof sippy cup with handles on the side, it will be easy for your toddler to hold and handle it.
#2. Fill the cup with a familiar liquid
At 6 months old, babies are still learning about their surrounding, the food, and liquids. To make it easy for your baby to adopt a sippy cup, fill it with a familiar liquid. For instance, fill the sippy cup with formula or breast milk. If you fail to do this, your baby may opt to stick with the bottle. As time progresses, you can try freshly squeeze juice with no pulp or water. The reason we are advocating for freshly squeezed juice is that it has no chemicals or additives. As such, it is healthy for a growing baby.
#3. Switch between cups
When shopping for a sippy cup, you can find three models – spout, spoutless and straw. All these can play an important role in weaning your baby from the bottle in preparation for the cup. We recommend that you start with the spout model as it mimics the bottle. Your baby will be comfortable using this before introducing the straw and spoutless model. The spoutless model is very useful as it resembles a normal cup. The only difference is that it has a lid. This helps to prevent spills
Sipping with no fears – The safety of sippy cups answered
Sippy cups were originally designed to help toddlers transition from the bottle to a lid free cup. Problem is, experts have raised an alarm and associated sippy cups with oral risks, dexterity, and lack of motor control. For some time, parents stopped using sippy cups as a transition tool for fear that it would promote poor development. Thanks to technology, sippy cups are now safe and parents should no longer fear using them as a transition tool. Here is how sippy cup makers have made these tools to be safe.
Use of kid-friendly materials
Sippy cups today are made from numerous materials. For instance, the spout is made from silicone. This is a plastic substitute said to be non-toxic and non-leaching. As such, it does not leak chemicals into the liquids. Also, its bite proof and babies cannot nibble holes. For the body, manufacturers have opted to use BPA free plastic, glass or stainless steel. Makers of BPA free products have continuously marketed the material as safe. According to some experts, this is not true. They claim that estrogen mimickers can be found in BPA free plastics. Stainless steel and glass are very safe for the baby. They are non-toxic and non-leaching. The problem with glass is that it can break if dropped on concrete or tiled floor. So, if you intend to use a sippy cup as a transition tool we recommend one made from glass.
Comes with handles
At 6 months old, your toddler is strong enough to sit or even hold stuff with his or her hands. By the time your toddler is 1 year old, he or she is able to walk and so, he or she can move around without any assistance. As a transition tool, all you have to do is fill the sippy cup with your toddler’s favorite drink and hand it to him or her. Using his or her hands, the toddler can comfortably hold the sippy cup and drink from it. This improves the toddler’s hand to mouth coordination. Also, it improves her motor skills.
As said earlier, you will come across different models as you shop for a sippy cup. Available models include spout, spoutless and straw. The spout model is the most common and is used to wean the baby from the bottle. To ensure its safe for the baby, the spout is made from silicone. This is the same material as that of a bottle nipple. It is flexible and nibble proof. For the spoutless model, it is available as a rimless cup. The lid allows the toddler to drink and not to spill. This helps your baby develop muscle control and skills to eventually drink from a cup.
Are there dangers associated with a sippy cup?
Like any other tool, there are dangers you need to be aware of. They include:
Mold and bacteria
If a sippy cup is not cleaned well, you risk mold growth and the presence of bacteria. Think about it. Food remnants getting trapped in the straw or spout, moisture from your toddler’s mouth and others. All these can promote mold growth and bacteria. This is not what you want. Presence of mold and bacteria can cause illness. To prevent this, use warm water and soap when cleaning the sippy cup.
When a toddler begins to use a sippy cup, a lot of parents forget its intended purpose. Before you know it, it becomes the main means of dispensing liquids. Why? Its spill proof and easy to clean. Problem is, juice and milk contain sugar. If the toddler continues using the sippy cup for a long time, it can cause decay. Also, it can build unhealthy eating habits. How? The toddler will believe that food is for comfort and not to satisfy hunger.
Injury to the mouth
When your toddler is 1 year old, he or she can walk around without any assistance. As you already know, this is the age when kids play a lot. You find them running from one room to another. Now that he or she has learned to use the sippy and can use it on the go, he or she can proceed to play with the sippy cup to the mouth. If the toddler falls facing forward, it can lead to a mouth injury. To prevent this, make sure your toddler is using the sippy cup while seated.
A sippy cup as a transition tool is not a bad thing. Yes, they can form developmental and habit-forming issues but if used with care, they can be very useful. To eliminate any issues with sippy cups, shop for a glass model, clean the sippy cup thoroughly, and limit sippy cup use.