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Sippy Cups


What should I know about a sippy cup?

There are good points and not-so-good points about sippy cups. Keeping the floor and table free of spills is convenient. The problem, however with this feeding utensil, comes when parent and child alike learn that the device meets their needs, and the child grows more and more attached to it. As this comes about, parents are tempted to allow the child to keep the sippy cup between mealtimes. Carrying a sippy cup allows a child to get attached to it for comfort.

Can a sippy cup cause tooth decay?

Well yes and no. The sippy cup itself does not cause decay, but the convenience and use of the cup invite the problem to develop. Here’s how.

When a child carries around a sippy cup, the fluid contents of the sippy cup become important. If the contents are always only water, the issue is not a problem. But more commonly, the contents contain some sort of sugar – either milk sugar, fruit juice, or even soda pop. These sugars are turned into acids by bacteria that live in most kids’ mouths. The acids cause tooth decay. Data shows that tooth decay is on the rise recently.

Should I put my child to sleep while feeding with a sippy cup?

No. Your child will naturally wake during the night. You do not want your child tol expect to find the sippy cup. If the sippy cup is there, your child will drink the sugars and these will cause tooth decay.

So my child should not go to bed with a sippy cup or a bottle?

Correct. A child should never go to bed with either one. Your child should be laid down into bed drowsy and ready to fall asleep, but still awake. They should realize that the bed is a place to rest and not a place where they can drink milk or any other fluids.

When can my child use a sippy cup?

If your child does have a sippy cup, use it only at the table, while your child is in the high-chair, on a long car ride or when your child goes to grandma’s house. A child should not walk around with a sippy cup. A better idea is to wean your child to an open-rimmed cup as soon as feasible.


Written by Robert Brayden, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-06-03
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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