The sippy cup is a classic companion for younger kids. Designed specifically to be handled by even the clumsiest of children, they are made to be sturdy, leak-resistant, and engineered to prevent spilling. Aside from being a handy thing for parents to keep kid’s drinks on hand, the sippy cup offers parents an opportunity to introduce children to healthy hydration habits that can last a lifetime.
Familiarizing children with sippy cups from a young age paves the way for switching out sippy cup for a more “grown-up” water bottle a few years down the line. Teaching them the importance of reuse and recycling and simultaneously saving money while encouraging healthy habits, a simple water bottle and a few encouraging words can go a long way to making a real difference in anyone’s day-to-day.’
Graduating from Sippy Cup to Water Bottle
Sippy cups, also sometimes referred to as trainer cups, learner cups, and other variants are the ideal way to introduce young children to drinking on their own. The simple yet clever engineering behind them requires the child to provide a small amount of suction, much like a bottle. When the child is not sipping from the cup, surface tension prevents the water from leaking out. This design provides excellent spill-proofing, and only allows small, baby-sized sips. Sippy or trainer cups can be introduced to children as soon as they begin to drink water. Generally, this can be done at around six months old, at the same time you introduce your baby to solid food.
Most sippy and trainer cups rely on a simple design which doesn’t require the infant to suck through a straw, which is a skill in itself! For example, this OXO soft-spout sippy cup embodies the classic sippy cup design, with a small spout to restrict flow. Something like the Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup takes a bit more of a modern approach, adding some clever engineering to the design, but relies on essentially the same principle.
In contrast, something like the OXO Transitions Straw Cup will require your child to suck through a straw to get a drink. Generally, babies can be taught to drink from a straw around nine months, and most have developed the skill for themselves by two years old. For some advice on how to teach your toddler to drink from a straw, check out this great article from YourKidsTable.
But when is it time to make the switch from sippy cup to water bottle proper?
Seamless Transition with Kid’s Water Bottles
Although typically considered an essential part of any parent’s baby bag, child development experts recommend ditching the sippy cup or taking the “trainer” cup away as soon as possible. While the leak proof design and child friendly looks are great for getting started, sippy cups should be treated as a stepping stone to using regular everyday cups and water bottle. Over-use of a sippy cup can actually cause issues from your child’s developing teeth, mouth, and even speech patterns! Because children suckle from sippy cups in the same way they do bottles, using them too long can change the shape of toddler’s mouths, tongues, and even lead to dental caries.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, over-use of sippy cups can lead to a condition known as Oral Myofunctional Disorder. The AAP recommends parent’s begin introducing their children to normal cups as early as 12 to 15 months, with complete elimination of the sippy cup by the second birthday.
While a lot of parents still keep the sippy cups and trainer cups around for outings, relying on their spill-proofing to make lives a little bit easier, you can also introduce them to having their own personal reusable water bottle around the same time. And you have some help!
Water Bottle’s Designed with Kids in Mind
When it comes time to get rid of the sippy cup, take a look at all of the water bottles designed specifically with kids in mind. Designed not only to appeal to kids visually, many of these bottles are also designed with their everyday use needs in mind, making them extra-durable and featuring quality leak-proofing that can handle a toddler’s demands.
Encouraging Lifelong Healthy Habits
While it might seem like enough of a challenge for new parents just to get their toddlers using normal cups and water bottles, by encouraging them to carry a reusable bottle you can set them on a life-long path towards saving money, reducing their waste footprint, and keeping them away from unhealthy sugary drinks in favor of pure, clean H2O.
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Learn everything you need to know about why, when, and how to ditch the sippy cup and put your kids on the right track.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.