Did you know that the types of drinking cups your toddlers use can impact their speech and language development? Using the right type of cup can positively impact development while other cups can actually get in the way of development.
When evaluating toddlers with speech and language delays, I always ask parents if I can see their child’s favorite cups. I recommend that they stop using any cups that have a spout and replace them with straw or non-spill cups that do not have a spout.
Why is this important? As babies are presented with solid foods and open cup liquids, they develop a swallow that is more mature than the one they used for breast or bottle feeding. The next time you swallow, notice that your tongue naturally goes to the spot behind your front teeth where “teeth meets gum” and rolls back over the roof of your mouth to trigger your swallow. This “starting place” for the tongue is very important both for speech and swallowing. A spout cup physically blocks the tongue from getting to where it needs to be.
In their effort to be non-spill, many sippy cups on the market end up functioning much like a bottle by forcing children to suck to get any liquid. By using these cups, we can be unknowingly encouraging an immature swallow pattern.
The best possible option for your child is an open cup. Whenever you have the opportunity to give your child an open cup, do it! That said, I’m a mom of four kids and I realize that it's not realistic to think that you’ll always be able to hand your toddler an open cup. Here are a some recommendations for convenient and mess-free non-spill cups:
Spout Free Cups: