Introducing a sippy cup to your young child can be quite a milestone. Though it is exciting when your baby starts to hold their bottle, drinking out of a sippy cup brings a new level of independence. Don’t be surprised if your toddler wants to carry a sippy cup around the house all day. And though this can make life a bit easier for mom and dad, there are things you should be aware of when it comes to sippy cups and dental health.
What You Need to Know About Sippy Cups and Dental Health
Your baby will most likely be ready to transition from a bottle to their first sippy cup a few months before their first birthday. Bottles can increase tooth decay risk because the sugar stays on teeth longer when consumed by sucking from a bottle. Further, children who still drink from a bottle at age two have a higher risk of obesity later in life. And of course, the longer your child relies on their bottle, the harder it will be to break the habit, as sucking on a bottle can be a very comforting activity.
6 Tips to Transition Your Toddler to a Sippy Cup
- Plan to fully transition your baby to a sippy cup when they are between 12 and 18 months of age and begin the transition around the age of six to nine months.
- Ensure that there aren’t any other stressful occurrences happening in your life at the time of the transition. For example, if you have just moved your child from a crib to a toddler bed, if you are in the middle of moving homes, or if you have made a change in the daycare situation, etc., it is best to make only one significant change in your child’s life at a time.
- Show excitement about the sippy cup to help your child get excited too.
- When overtired, toddlers can be a bit more clingy, and thus they will be more likely to fuss when you take away their bottle. So, introduce the sippy cup at lunchtime or when your child is at their best and most cooperative behavior. If your child cries, remind her that she can have her bottle again at bedtime.
- Stick to fluoridated water, milk, or diluted juice. Remember that juice has no nutritional value for children under the age of one, and sugary drinks can lead to cavities, especially if your toddler is drinking juice between meals. If you want to provide your child with juice, it is best to do so during meals, as the saliva generated from chewing can help to rinse the sugar away. Selecting the right beverages for your kids’ teeth will also help your child make better choices later.
- Don’t go cold turkey and toss the bottles out with the trash while your toddler is napping. Though this trick can work when trying to nip the pacifier habit in the bud, it isn’t the best tactic to use when introducing the sippy cup. If it is indeed time to toss the bottles, let your child be part of the process. Try a scavenger hunt and let your child hunt down the bottles. Then, together you can donate the bottles to another baby who will need them more.
Making Informed Decisions When it Comes to Sippy Cups and Dental Health
Bottles and sippy cups can both lead to tooth decay. Therefore, parents must understand that sippy cups are a temporary solution until your child is old enough to drink out of an open cup. Though sippy cups themselves don’t cause tooth decay, sippy cups filled with sugary liquids do.
Though sippy cups are a smart, progressive step for your child to take after moving on from the bottle, parents must remember that sippy cups only reduce a small amount of liquid at a time. This is great when you want to prevent a beverage from spilling on your carpets or furniture, however, the sugars in the drink are continuously swished around your child’s mouth, making constant contact with their teeth. Oral bacteria then feed on these sugars, creating acids that can be harmful to your child’s dental health.
Monitoring the amount of time your child has access to their sippy cup and being mindful of what goes in the cup are some of the best ways to help keep your kids’ teeth cavity-free. It is also highly recommended that your child brushes their teeth after meals and especially before bedtime. Lastly, make sure that you take trips to the kids’ dentist at least twice per year for a cleaning and oral assessment.
Talk to the We Make Kids Smile team about sippy cups and dental health.
If we haven’t answered all of your questions here about sippy cups and dental health, the We Make Kids Smile team would be happy to answer more of them at your child’s next dental visit. Give our office a call or request an appointment using our convenient online form. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible to schedule your appointment and talk to you about how to use sippy cups properly and avoid common dental problems for kids.