(you can see the valves in the spout)
In continuing with February’s Children’s Dental Health Month theme, many parents are unaware of the harm caused by offering their children sippy cups.
In talking with parents during their child’s one-year-old new patient visit, I find parents pulling out their child’s sippy cup filled with milk or juice. I would say close to 100% of the parents are unaware of the harm the sippy cup filled with milk/juice can cause. During their child’s exam, we use a disclosing solution to show the parents where the plaque on their baby’s teeth is. In almost every case (because brushing a one-year old’s teeth is difficult!) the child has plaque (sticky bacteria film) on the front of their “smile teeth”. When a child sucks milk through the sippy cup spout, the sugars from the milk combine with the bacteria in the plaque to cause decay.
Believe it or not, as soon as teeth erupt, decay can occur. One of the most common ways children’s teeth will decay is the frequent and prolonged exposure to milk, juice or formula, all which contain sugar. So putting baby to bed with a bottle will dramatically increase their chances of “baby bottle mouth”, or decay on the baby teeth.
You should encourage your child to drink from a cup by their first birthday. If you use a sippy cup, be sure to remove the valve so that it is not a “baby bottle” in disguise. The valves in the spout merely cause the child to suck the fluid over the teeth the same way a bottle does, and it also defeats the purpose of the child learning to sip.
Don’t let your child walk around with the sippy cup, as toddlers are often unsteady and could injure their mouth during a fall.
A training cup should be used temporarily. Once your child has learned how to sip, the training cup has achieved its purpose. It can and should be set aside when no longer needed.
For sipping success, carefully choose and use a training cup. As the first birthday approaches, encourage your child to drink from a cup. As this changeover from baby bottle to training cup takes place, be very careful:
– what kind of training cup you choose
– what goes into the cup
– how frequently your child sips from it
– that your child does not carry the cup around