Sippy cups have been found to directly and/or indirectly contribute to:
- Overall poor development of muscles used for speech – Prolonged sippy cup use prevents the development of muscles that are needed for speaking and articulating because a child has not had practice using these muscles.The only sound in the English language that is produced with the tongue positioned forward and out of the mouth is the /th/ sound.When a child uses a sippy cup for an extended period, their tongue forms a habit of being in this position therefore creating “sippy cup speech” – often perceived as an interdental lisp.For example, instead of saying “sing the song”, the child may say “thing the thong”.
- “Sippy cup mouth” – Children who use a sippy cup frequently throughout the day, sleep with it at night and continue to use it after the age of 2 years may have problems when their primary teeth arrive.The “sippy cup mouth” is an open bite, meaning that they have a gap between their upper and lower teeth when their back teeth are together.This open bite posture can impede their ability to pronounce various sounds like /s, z, sh, ch/.
- Tooth decay – The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry states “Sippy cups were created to help children transition from a bottle to drinking from a regular cup, but they’re too often used for convenience.When kids sip for extended periods on sugared beverages, they’re exposed to a higher risk of decay.Sippy cups should only contain water unless it’s mealtime.”
- Ear infections – Children who spend many hours lying down and drinking from a sippy cup are prone to develop ear infections.The Eustachian tube runs from the middle of each ear to the back of the throat.This tube drains fluid normally made in the middle ear.When children drink from a sippy cup or bottle while lying down, gravity is then allowed to pull the liquid to the middle ear and possibly set up an environment for infection.