I've said it before.. we are a nation with a real sippy-cup addiction. Seriously. You would think I'd be used to it, but it still blows my mind to see 5- and 6-year olds carrying sippy cups around the grocery store. Or seeing parents fill their preschoolers' sippys with soda at McDonald's. Innumberable children entering preschool or kindergarten have never held an open cup until snacktime... and they promptly dump it all over. They have no concept of "cause and effect" and what's going to happen.
The thing is... the sippy cup should just be a transition step. And a fairly short-lived one at that! As far as our kids' teeth are concerned, it's really not any better than drinking from a baby bottle. Drinking from an open cup builds coordination. It requires different oral strengths than a sippy cup. And, quite simply, it's a life skill. I truly believe that, as parents, we need to be more pro-active in getting our kids off the sippy... We've successfully ditched the sippy cup well before the third birthdays of both of our children. Here are my best tips for being successful.
- Use a very small cup and very little liquid to start. There's no reason to start out huge. Face it-- you ARE going to be wiping up the contents of said cup. May as well keep the damage to a minimum.
- Start with water. Same idea-- it's so much easier to clean up than sticky juice or milk!
- Feel free to hold the cup yourself the first few times. This allows your child to sip at the liquid and grasp the concept without getting "flooded".
- Serve drinks at the table. I know that seems like a no-brainer tip, but I really think one of the main reasons for the "sippy cup epidemic" is that, somewhere along the line, we got it into our heads that our children must have access to a drink every moment of the day. I'm not sure why this is... I certainly don't remember EVER having a drink in the car or church or the doctor's waiting room as a child. And I wasn't deprived or dehydrated either. By all means, make sure your children are getting enough fluids. But there's no reason they need to run all over the house with them.
- If you MUST serve something to drink away from the table, consider using a straw. There are lidded cups with straws available that can be washed and re-used. Or give a juice box as a treat. Straws are actually GOOD for kids because they build oral strength (especially "crazy straws"!) and help prevent aspiration since your head remains upright (rather than tipped back) when you swallow. Furthermore, straws are socially appropriate even as adults, so it's not another thing to "wean" your child off of down the road.
- When you feel frustrated, remember that YOU never had a sippy cup as as child. And I bet you turned out just fine. :)
This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday and Kitchen Tip Tuesdays