Do Pacifiers and Sippy Cups Cause Speech Delay?

pacifier

People often ask me, “Should I use a pacifier with my child?”

As a speech pathologist and a new mom to my first child, I had resolved to never use a pacifier with my son. I didn’t want to have to worry about weening him off of it knowing the effects pacifiers can have on speech development. A few weeks after he was born he became a very fussy baby. He cried around the clock. All resolutions I had made previously were out the window. I just wanted some sleep! I tried everything, even pacifiers. I was so desperate to calm him. Unfortunately for me, they didn’t work either. It did however give me a new perspective on what mothers go through and how at times it’s just about survival.

Understand that pacifiers are perfectly appropriate for infants the first year of their life. They can also make life a lot easier on mom and dad at first. Don’t feel guilty if your baby loves the “binki”. Do however try to limit his or her use of the pacifier after 6 months of age and work toward weening them completely off the pacifier by 12 months. When you give your baby the pacifier try to always give a soft toy or blanket with it. This helps when it comes time to ween the baby off the pacifier. Your baby girl or boy will still have the comfort of the toy or blanket when the pacifier is taken away.

What about sippy cups?

I don’t recommend sippy cups because sippy cups can prevent the tongue from moving into a more natural position for speech development. Children suckle the sippy cup just like they would a pacifier or bottle. When it comes time to ween off the bottle try moving to a straw cup instead.

Why a straw cup?

As a mother I know we all like the spill proof cups so I recommend the spill proof straw cup as a transition cup from the bottle or nursing. This will help position your children’s tongue correctly for speech and give them the strength necessary to be more successful communicators. Of course before you introduce a straw cup you need to make sure your child can drink from a straw.

How do I teach my child to drink from a straw?

If your child is having difficulty learning to drink from a straw try using a Capri Sun or juice box to teach your child the concept of straw drinking. With a Capri Sun you can squeeze the juice up the straw to teach your child that this new tool is used for drinking. Before you know it your child will be suckling the straw and drinking on his/her own. The downfall with this approach is that you will have to hold the Capri Sun the whole time unless you are o.k. with juice everywhere. Another less messy method would be to use a honey bear with a reusable plastic straw.

What straw cup do you like best?

Munchkin Cups

My favorite cups are the “Munchkin” cups (shown above), which are sold at stores like Wal-Mart or Costco. You can also get these from Amazon.com.

I like these cups the best because of the shape of the straw and the location of the anti-spill mechanism. The shape of the straw promotes good lip rounding which is beneficial for the /w/ and “oo” sounds. The anti-spill mechanism is located inside the cup rather than in the straw itself so when you begin cutting the straw down, which I’ll explain below, you won’t cut it off.

If children learn to drink from a straw by suckling how is it different from a sippy cup?

A straw cup can be used as a tool to train the tongue into the right position. These are the steps you will want to follow.

Once you have purchased a straw cup allow your child several weeks to get used to the new cup. Keep in mind they are now drinking all their liquids from this cup. After the child is really comfortable with the new cup cut 1/4″ off the top of the straw. This will make it so the child will have less straw to put in their mouth while drinking. A few weeks later, when your child is really comfortable drinking from this cup cut another 1/4″ off the top of the straw. Every few weeks repeat this step until your child only has about 1/4″ of straw left they can put in their mouth. This assures that they cannot suckle the straw and their tongues will be in the proper position for good speech development.

“Why have my other children done just fine on sippy cups?”

There are many children out there that can drink from sippy cups without affecting their speech. But, if you can set your children up for success from the beginning why wouldn’t you? If you have already gone the route of sippy cups and your child substitutes /t/ for /k/, /d/ for /g/, -th- for /s/ or /z/, or has a lateral lisp your child will benefit from moving their tongue back with the help of a straw cup. Excessive drooling can also be an indicator that your child needs the strengthening that can come from drinking through straws. As a rule, my children only use straw cups as opposed to sippy cups and I encourage my clients to do the same.

“What about drinking from a normal cup?”

Drinking from a normal cup will also promote appropriate tongue positioning. Introduce normal cups as soon as you feel your child is ready. If you want to teach your child to drink from a normal cup make sure they are not supporting the cup with their tongue. If they seem to lose a lot of fluid while drinking help them practice by giving them single sips while you hold the cup.

Here are some other articles on pacifiers I found interesting:

A Hard habit to Break – Toddlers Today.com
When should My Baby Stop Using a Pacifier – Baby Center.com
Pacifier Use – Answers.com


Heidi - Mommy Speech Therapy Heidi Hanks, M.S.CCC-SLP has been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist since 2000. She graduated from Utah State University where she completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She began her career in early intervention and eventually started her own private practice where she has worked primarily with pre-K through school age kids. She is the founder of Little Bee Speech, and is currently developing apps for speech and language. Heidi lives in Utah with her husband and 4 children.


52 Responses to “Do Pacifiers and Sippy Cups Cause Speech Delay?”

  1. Ellen says:

    Hi,

    Our two-year old has Down Syndreom and uses a bear cup with a straw. He has been drinking from this straw cup for a long time. He is usually pretty about keeping his tongue in his mouth, but does not retract his tongue when he drinks and the straw sits between his tongue and upper lip. Should I worry about this? If so, how can I encourage him to retract his tongue?

  2. Heidi says:

    Ellen,

    It sounds like you are on the right road to tongue retraction already. What you want to do now is try to move him from the bear cup to a straw cup. Once he is on the straw cup you will be able to work toward tongue retraction by cutting the straw down little by little. In the beginning he will still wrap his tongue around the straw and that is o.k.. As you cut the straw down he will be using less and less of his tongue until eventually the straw is so short, he can only use his lips and his tongue will be retracted.

    The important thing to remember is that this is a process and he needs to build up his tongue strength in between intervals of cutting the straw. If you cut the straw too short too soon he will reject the straw cup, so it is always better to move a little slower rather than faster.

    Best of luck,
    Heidi

  3. Ellen says:

    Thanks so much, Heidi! This is very helpful.

  4. Megan says:

    My son has a condition called Congenital Myopathy. He has low muscle tone all over his body, including his mouth. When I first read this blog, he was 21 months old and was still using a pacifier and drinking from a sippy cup. After reading your blog, I got rid of the pacifier and moved him to a straw cup. Since I’ve done this, his speech has taken off! The blog on bubbles helped as well. The muscle tone in his mouth has increased greatly from these exercises. Thank you for your advice. I know this has helped tremendously.

  5. McKenna says:

    When do you recommend transitioning to a straw cup? My 10 1/2 month old son is taking a bottle full time right now. He will take a little from a straw, but gets frustrated because it’s a lot more work than his bottle!

  6. Heidi says:

    Mckenna,

    Now is the time to start transitioning him to the straw cup. A good goal would be to have him completely off the bottle by twelve months. I know it’s hard, especially when they throw their fits, but trust me, it’s worth it.

    A few ideas for transitioning to the straw cup that have worked for other parents include letting your child help pick out cool new cups, put delicious drinks in the straw cup like strawberry milk or lemonade, try to limit the bottle to bedtime only, or simply throw the bottles out so you’re not tempted to use them when he throws a tantrum. Hopefully you will find something here that will help.

    You can do it,
    Heidi

  7. McKenna says:

    Thanks! Send me some good “transition vibes” to Texas please! My daughter was tube fed for two years and still doesn’t know how to suck at age three, so I feel like I don’t have a clue when it comes to teaching a typically developing child how to eat and drink! :) Give me a kid with a g-tube and I feel like I know what I’m doing…but give me a kid who naturally eats and drinks and I freak out! LOL! Love the site!

  8. Miriam says:

    Hello Heidi,

    My 3 year old daughter’s teeth were definitely affected by her pacifier and sippy cup. She was a heavy pacifier user and has developed a lateral lisp. We went ‘cold turkey’ from both items in October ’07 and already we can see a major difference in the position of her teeth. The ‘open bite’ seems to have corrected itself. She was upset for two or three days when we weaned her, but not half as upset as we thought she would be. Lots of extra attention and affection got her through. Now she proudly shows her ‘new teeth’ to anyone who’ll look.

    We’re planning to start speech therapy as soon as we find a private SLP to take her. Waiting lists for state funded therapy in Ireland are very long, as we want to help her as early as possible.

    We’re using the straw & bubbles to help her learn the correct tongue position, and through games we have tried to gently introduce the idea of holding the tongue back when making the ‘s’ and ‘z’ sounds. She seems recpetive enough, so hopefully she’ll be able concentrate for long enough to be a suitable candidate for speech therapy, even though she is very young. We’re also very aware that we don’t want to make her selfconscious when she speaks, as that could be so detrimental to her confidence.

    I’d be very grateful of any advice you could give me as I’m really worried that she’ll be teased as she gets older, if we can’t eliminate the lisp. What are the chances of her losing it completely through therapy?

    Miriam.

  9. Heidi says:

    Miriam,

    What a fantastic mom you are! You are doing all the right things to set your daughter up for success. The straws and bubbles will be a great help to her. Getting her into therapy young will allow her to make the change more quickly before it becomes a tough habit to break.

    Don’t worry about her getting teased either, with a little therapy I’m sure she will make the change long before kids ever notice.

  10. Miriam says:

    Thanks for replying Heidi !

    It’s nice to get some positive feedback. Your website is really helpful, full of great advice and your speedy reply has calmed me down ! We’ll start speech therapy as soon as possible. A couple of SLPs have told me to wait until she’s older, but my instinct was very strong that she needed early intervention. You’ve given me the confidence to push a little harder.

    Keep up the good work.

    Miriam.

  11. Jenna says:

    Hi Heidi! I am an SLP working in EI right now. I love your suggestion about cutting the straw back…I cannot wait to try it with several of my kids. I also have had success using the Playtex Coolster Sipster which is “spoutless” but spill-proof as an alternative transition from the bottle to inhibit suckling. Just thought I’d share!! I am thrilled to have stumbled upon your site…thanks for all your work!

  12. Beth Newton says:

    Hello!

    I just wanted to put in my two cents! My daughter has been in speech therapy since she was 2 (she’s 3 now) and her speech therapist told me that sippy cups were the worst things in the world for kids who had speech problems. Actually she said sippy cups are just bad in general. She suggested a straw cup instead if my daughter wasn’t ready for an open cup. A friend of mine got me hooked on these really neat straw cups called Lil’ Chillers. They used to be at Target but they quit selling them. I found them online at http://www.lilchillers.com . I like them because they are easy for my daughter told hold and the straw won’t come out.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Hi! I am a Speech Pathologist with a 10 month old son. I have been doing some reading about sippy cups and pacifiers on your website and also checking out ASHA. You stated these are not great to use or use in a limited way. At what age do you recommend starting a straw cup and weaning from a pacifier?

    Thanks for your input!
    Jennifer

    • Heidi says:

      Jennifer,

      Thank you for the question. It has been my experience that you can begin the straw cup as early as 10 and 12 months. I also recommend begining to wean from the pacifier around that same time. I skip sippy cups all together because I don’t believe they do anything to transition our little ones from suckling to nice tongue retraction and stabilization.

      Doing this has been very successful with my own children as well as the clients I work with in reducing drooling, improving muscle tone, increasing the amount of speech sounds the child makes as well as an increase in expressive vocabulary. I wish you the same success.

      • Heidi,
        Thank you so much for being clear about staying away from sippy cups and pacifiers at 8 mos+…..I have specialized in Oral-motor, feeding disorders with infants through adults for many years, coming from the NDT arena before ASHA took on really dealing with dysphasia in pediatrics. I also recommend sports bottle type sippers as another choice that we use throughout life and that teens with cerebral palsy taught me are a good choice for having something that is “normal” for them to use…babies learn to drink from parent’s straws and sports bottles and the sports bottle can facilitate tongue retraction for those kiddoes with Down’s Syndrome…sometimes they rely on biting on the spout, but in therapy and play can learn how to increase lip strength…I love your suggestion to cut the straw back in increments!
        Your note on this website is great. Do you have your own website? It is good to know there is encouragement away from pacifiers and sippy cups—I canvass all my local children’s shops asking them to provide straw cups….unfortunately, however, there doesn’t seem to be one straw cup with handles appropriate for toddlers…there is one on the way, but I was informed it is not ready for production, yet…I think the brand name is ONO–nice looking cup but unavailable in straw version for now.
        Thanks again for your clear information.
        Susan Nachimson
        Speech-Language Pathologist

  14. Alison says:

    Hello and thank you so much for your site. My son is 3 1/2 and sucks his fingers religiously. When he was 1 and 2, his pediatrician told me there was nothing I could really do about it (to stop him from it), but now at 3 encourages me to help him to stop. I wish I had been encouraged to do so at 1, how much easier to have done so. I figured (and the pediatrician said) he would fade out of it, but now we are having to actively train him not to. And so, he speaks with a lisp (interdental? “th” for s and z) and struggles very much when I try to ask him to try the s sound with his teeth closed. He tries to push back his tongue with his finger!

    I’m wondering if the straw method is right for him since he is able to drink from a cup on his own (we have never done sippy cups with him and only sometimes straws for fun). I wasn’t sure if this was just for very young children or anyone struggling with s sounds. Also, when he speaks his words are rushed and jumbled, and many words begin with the “h” sound unless I slow him down and have him repeat every word correctly (or as best as he is able but without the h beginning sound). Are these things I can work on at home?

    If not, do you recommend or know if it is worth having college students in the university’s speech therapy program work with him rather than licensed speech therapist?

    I hope it makes sense. Thank you for your website! It’s lovely and wonderfully helpful!

    • Heidi says:

      Alison,

      To address your first question, straws are a wonderful tool for training the tongue to retract at any age. If your son struggles with an interdental lisp as you have said, and has difficulty retracting his tongue without the help of his finger it is likely when he drinks from a straw he suckles the straw to draw the liquid up. This forward tongue pattern can be trained to retract by using a spill proof straw cup. Simply introduce the cup and after your son is comfortable drinking from it cut the straw down by a 1/4 inch. Reintroduce the cup, give him some time to get used to it, and then cut it down by another 1/4 inch. Do this until your son only has about 1/4- 1/2″ of the straw left to drink from. Your son will be unable to suckle the straw at this length, thus positioning his tongue in a nice retracted position. This position will strengthen the tongue for appropriate tongue retraction during speech.

      Doing all you can do to discourage him sucking his fingers will also help. I understand this is difficult. I too have a religious thumb sucker. He is 2 1/2. When he first started talking he also said his /s/ sound like a th. However, I have had him drinking from straws almost exclusively and now he says the /s/ sound correctly.

      You also mentioned that your son speaks really rapidly and starts most of his words with the /h/ sound. It sounds to me like an evaluation by a speech language pathologist would be beneficial. If you want to try the college students in a local university program that may be a good option. All college students are supervised by licensed speech language pathologists. Or if you feel more comfortable going to someone with more experience it is up to you. I hope this helps. Good luck.

  15. James says:

    Hi Heidi,

    Love your website! Great info. I was looking through the comment section and I was wondering if an interdental lisp at 3 and 1/2 might be considered developmentally appropriate? Also, if removal of thumb sucking behavior coincided with correct production of the /s/, how would you be able to differentiate etiology between thumb sucking and typical phonological development?

    I’ve been looking through research on oral sucking habits as risk factors for speech and language impairment. There doesn’t seem to be a substaintal amount of research out there. Studies that have been done seem to have somewhat contrary conclusions. One showed exsessive sucking a moderate risk factor for speech impairment, while another actually showed it as being a protective factor against speech and language impairment.

    • Heidi says:

      James,

      Thumb sucking definitely does not protect against speech and language impairment. As long as the child is thumb sucking it will likely affect his speech. This is due to the repeated reinforcement of an immature muscle pattern, the suckle. When he sucks his thumb he strengthens the tongues habitual pattern of coming forward at rest and during speech which is evidenced in an interdental lisp. When the tongue is at rest with the mouth closed the tongue is retracted and will in turn strengthen the muscles for retraction making it easier to produce sounds like /s/ correctly.

      If the behavior corrects itself when the child stops thumb sucking I think that would be too much of a coincidence to then say it was just typical phonological development, but you are right, there would be no way of knowing for sure.

  16. Angie says:

    I have a three yr old girl. I never before heard about the sippy cup problem until I read this. I still have her on a sippy simply for my own preferance of her spilling. I now know to get her off of it ASAP. But now my probelm is her speech. She cannot say “th” like Bath, The, There, They…etc. I don’t know how to work with her on this. I keep trying to correct her and guide her through it by showing where he tongue should be when saying it. She really tries hard but cannot do it and gets frustrated. Any advice on how to help her with this?

  17. Shane says:

    Hey Heidi! Have you heard about Straw-lution? This is a GREAT straw for kids – it’s the straw that goes in but doesn’t come out. My kids use it with yogurt smoothies, Horizon drinkboxes, it’s great. Reusable, dishwasher safe, BPA free. Yay straws!

  18. Anne says:

    Hi Heidi,

    My daughter is 2 years old. She refuse to drink using straw and get fussy when we try to introduce to her the straw cup. Thinks she already get frustrated with the cup. Usually she will drinking milk or even water using spoon feed since 4 months old till now. She is using pacifier too before sleep. Her another problem is speech, even though we can hear she said pa and ma but still not very clear, is it cause by the drinking habit or pacifier.

    • Heidi says:

      Anne,

      It sounds like there may be other issues contributing to your daughters speech and language delay besides just the straw and pacifier. It would be my recommendation to get her evaluated by a speech language pathologist to see what more can be done.

      Good luck!

  19. Susan says:

    I guess I got lucky with the pacifier but he has a different issue with slobbering. He’s almost 2 and still hasn’t learned to swallow his spit.

    • Heidi says:

      Susan,

      Your two year old likely has either low muscle tone making it difficult to swallow, or low sensitivity which means he may be unaware of when he drools. Or he may have both low muscle tone and low sensitivity. I would first address the low sensitivity by doing whatever I could to “wake up” his mouth and help him become more aware of when he drools. Use an electric toothbrush three times a day. Brush not only his teeth but his lips, tongue, soft palate and inside his cheeks. You can also use a rag that is a little rougher to wipe his mouth throughout the day when you notice him drooling. Really try to stimulate his nerves when you wipe his mouth rubbing all around his lips, and cheeks. You may even try tapping them or massaging them a little.

      To address the low muscle tone which may also be a cause I would practice “single sip cup drinking.” Single sip cup drinking is when you offer your son a cup of water without a lid to drink from, only allow him to take one sip at a time. Doing this will give him more opportunities to close his lips around the cup and then close his lips again every time he swallows. This exercises the lips and tongue more than drinking a lot at one time. You may also try straw drinking. When a child drinks from the tip of a straw their tongue retracts to move the liquid back to swallow. Strengthening the muscle used for this movement will make swallowing his drool easier for him. I explain how to teach infants and toddlers to drink from a straw up above.

      I hope this helps. If you read my post on How to Reduce Drooling in Infants and Toddlers you’ll see that I too had a drooler.

  20. Kendall says:

    Hi Heidi,

    Love your site! I just graduated in December and am currently working in a private pediatric practice. I work with a lot of 2-3 year olds with speech delay. Many of them are still using binkys and even bottles!!!!! Do you have any resources/websites/articles that I could give to parents that talks about the negative affect of those items on speech?? And the reasons why they are so bad for speech?

  21. Nicola Rand says:

    Hi

    Our 41/2 year old is due to start school in Sept. He says ‘T’
    consistently in place of ‘K’ & ‘G’ I.e. ‘Tat’, ‘very dood’. We have
    asked advice of our family doctor & his nursery teachers who all
    said not to worry. However I’m concerned as it’s a case of being unable to pronounce these sounds, not unwillingness!
    In all other ways his speech is good, his vocabulary well developed.

    I love this site – do you suggest the straw tactic? He drinks from a normal cup, has done for years, never useda dummy.

    Any advice welcome.

  22. Sarah says:

    Hi Heidi,
    Your website looks like it has a lot of great information that will be helpful when I’m working with my 22 month old twins! My son has recently started drooling and I’ve noticed as we have been transitioning to an open cup that he can’t seem to get his tongue out of the way (i.e., it’s always in the cup and he tends to pour the water into his mouth rather than sip). He has far fewer words and sounds than his sister. I don’t know if these may be related. Do you think that this is something that drinking with a straw may help with? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks again for making all this information so accessible!

    • Heidi says:

      Sarah,

      It sounds like your son likely has low muscle tone in his mouth which is why the tongue is always protruded when trying to drink from the cup. Low muscle tone does contribute to delayed speech development. Contact your local early intervention program for an evaluation. I am sure they will set you up with some exercises to strengthen the low tone in his mouth, as well as guide you through activities that can increase his expressive language. Good luck!

  23. Lisa says:

    This article is great, thanks for sharing. However, I would like to point out that soft blankets and stuffed animals should never be put in a crib with a child younger than 1 year old. So, they should only be given these items with the parent around to supervise.
    Also, there are other items that come in pouches other than Capri Sun, so I would recommend finding an alternative. Capri sun contains a lot of sugar and also contains “natural” flavorings.

  24. Susan says:

    Hi!
    Just found your site while searching for ways to teach the s sound to my 9 year old. He was adopted 3 years ago and has been in speech with little to no improvement. He has a pretty significant delay in his reading and I believe it has a lot if not all to do with his speech. We have decided to homeschool this year to work one on one more than the 40 minutes of speech per week and 45 minutes per day of resource help. I’m sure I will be reading through your site ASAP.

    While on here, I read this article. I have a 13 month old, same family as the 9 yr old, we are adopting. She has major drool issues so I thought I would try the straw cup as we are just transitioning to the sippy cup. I cannot find the cups you suggested. They have a new version that look like they cannot be cut very far or the spill proof valve will be gone. Is it even necessary to have the valve thing?

    Sorry for rambling. Thanks for any advice you can offer!
    Susan

  25. Keri says:

    Hi- I’ve been trying to get my 10 month old son to take a straw sippy instead of a bottle. He always just chews on the tip and can’t figure out how to get any water. We have a “safe sippy” and a munchkin brand. I was wondering if there were any straw cups that you can squeeze to get the fluid into their mouth so they learn what it’s for? I haven’t given him juice yet so I’m hesitant to try the capri sun or juice box but totally will if we can’t get this going soon. Thanks for the help!

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Keri,

      My daughter is actually 10 months as well and I just taught her to use a straw using a honey bear. I found a soft straw to put through the hole, filled the bear with water and simply squeezed a little water into her mouth until she got the ideas that something was supposed to come out of the straw. Then it clicked. She loves her honey bear now! You can also cut a piece of soft plastic tubing for a straw. I hope this helps!

  26. Laura says:

    My son is two and a half and I’m just trying now to teach him how to use a straw. I didn’t know about the negative effects of sippy cups and his speech is slow in coming. Did I start this too late? Do I need to take him to speech therapy or will he learn how to drink from a straw on his own? I wish I would have known about this sooner.

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Laura,

      Before you beat yourself up about the sippy cup lets determine how “slow in coming” your sons speech is. By the age of 2 1/2 your son should have roughly 450 words and should be putting 3 words together. Of course this is the average and language development can vary greatly. I would recommend you contact a speech pathologist through an early intervention program if your son has less than lets say 50-75 words and is not yet putting at least 2 words together.

      If you are comfortable with where your sons language is and your only concern is how to teach him to drink from a straw we can do that. To get started just put a straw in a bottle you can squeeze. If he doesn’t immediately start sucking through the straw simply squeeze the bottle to squirt some fluid in his mouth. He will be sucking and drinking from that straw with in no time. Now that he is drinking from a straw you just need to work on slowly reducing how much straw he is sucking on until he eventually is only drinking from the very tip of the straw. To do this I like to use spill proof straw cups. Once he can comfortably drink from a spill proof straw cup just cut a little bit of the straw off at a time giving him time in between to get used to the shorter straw length. Eventually he should be able to drink through just 1/4 inch of the straw.

      I hope this helps Laura. Let me know if you have any further questions. Good luck!

  27. Michelle says:

    I am very intrigued by all of your suggestions, I’m hoping maybe you might have a couple for me. My son is 9mons old 6mons corrected born at 27 wks and functions at about a 7-8 months old physically…he is breastfed and is on a slow weight gain pattern so his dietician and pediatrician now have me giving him a high calorie formula supplement. Problem is he absolutely refuses to touch a bottle and we’ve tried all suggestions provided to help transition him so i have resorted to a supplemental nursing system. The system is very clever and does the trick, however, he has cut a tooth and to be honest, that scares me (biting) i’ve already felt the scrape :( The pedi and o.t. have suggested trying to transition him to a cup instead of a bottle. I’ve tried that as well and he seems interested but something just doesnt seem right when he is trying to drink from it, as though maybe his tongue isn’t positioning properly. After reading this page about sippy cups causing possible speech hinderence I’m a little reluctant to continue with the cup as he has enough obstacles to overcome without a sippy possibly giving him another obstacle. Would you have any suggestions for me, anything else I could try at his age to wein him?

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Michelle,

      It is true the sippy cup long term is not beneficial for our little ones. However for a child that is only 6-12 months old it is perfectly appropriate. Having said that, I would recommend transitioning to the straw cup by the time he is 10 months. Give the honey bear a try, it is a miracle worker when trying to teach a child to drink from a straw. Good luck!

  28. Kate says:

    Hi Heidi,

    I’m really enjoying your blog. I wish i would have found it years ago. i have a 3 yo son who displays everything you’ve described above. He has an open mouth posture, tongue thrust, and can’t say the K and G sound. He drooled excessively as a baby and choked a lot, as well. After reading this, I’m sad to say that he used both the binky and a sippy cup for a long period of time.

    My son has never been able to drink from a straw. He is now drinking from a regular cup, so my question is….would there be any additional benefit to going back to a straw cup or would you recommend keeping him on the regular cup and allowing the skill of drinking through a straw to come later?

    Thank you so much for your help and all the great info.

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Kate,

      While drinking from an open cup is great and beneficial for both tongue retraction and jaw stability, learning to drink from a straw can give your son even more focused attention on strengthening tongue retraction. Good tongue retraction is necessary for producing the /k/ and /g/ sounds as well as reducing tongue thrust. I would definitely recommend teaching him to drink from a straw. Once you have taught him to drink from a straw choose a straw cup or sports bottle with a natural lip guard, then slowly cut the straw down (a 1/4″ at a time as your son gets used to and is successful with each length of straw) until your son can drink fluid through only the tip (about 1/4″) of the straw.

      You may want to consult a speech pathologist to guide you through some more exercises to strengthen your son’s tongue retraction. I would also ask about exercises to strengthen the jaw as well.

      All the best!
      Heidi

  29. fifi says:

    Hi, Heidi
    I’m mother of 7 month baby..he is drooling so much. he’s got labiopalato scizis..
    i want to try your idea to decrease drooling,but i think he cant use straw cup(he dont have palatum/can he sucking from the straw)..maybe u can give me another way..

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Fifi,

      I don’t typically introduce the straw cup until a child is 12 months old. In your son’s case I wouldn’t do it until the gap in the palate has been closed. I would recommend focusing more on increasing awareness in his lips and tongue by stimulating them with a washcloth multiple times a day. It may be when you are wiping up his drool. Spend a little more time tapping the lips with your fingers and/or washcloth or swabbing the inside of the mouth with the washcloth.

      Hope this helps!
      Heidi

  30. Jodi says:

    Heidi, You talk about the link between sippy cups and delayed speech, and I’ve seen this elsewhere, but can’t find the supporting research. Can you point me to the supporting research?

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Jodi,

      Unfortunately I don’t think there is conclusive research on sippy cups causing speech delay. This post is based on my professional experience as a speech pathologist from what I have observed over the years in children with speech delays. Eliminating the sippy cups and focusing more on drinking from straws and open cups in addition to providing a language rich environment has improved speech development and speech intelligibility while strengthening oral motor control.

  31. Sheila says:

    Hi Heidi,
    I’m a SLP and mom to an 8 month old girl. I have recently tried a straw cup (Playtex makes one with handles on either side). She does pretty well with it with little support from me. As far as transitioning to a regular cup, I wanted your opinion on the Reflo Cup. Have you used this? If so, how is the transition from the Reflo to regular cup? It seems like the change in flow would be difficult for them to manage. Or would you suggest just moving to a regular cup when they are ready with support for holding the cup to regulate flow. Anyway, love your site and just wanted your opinion. And thank you for deterring parents from sippy cups!Thanks!
    Sheila

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Sheila,

      I have not used the Reflo cup myself but I think it looks like a great cup. I usually transition to a regular cup as soon as possible. Mostly out of convenience, because you can locate a regular cup anywhere, even when you’re at the neighbors for game night. The biggest hang up I have found is when the regular cup gets knocked over all the milk spills on the ground immediately. Ugh! I hate that! With the Reflo cup you might be able to pick up the cup before it is all on the ground. So I may use a Reflo cup for that. I may also use a Reflo cup if the child isn’t able to master a regular cup even after plenty of opportunities to try it. I think you’d be surprised however how quickly kids can learn to master a regular cup when given the opportunity.

      Good luck with your little girl! It sounds like you are on the right track! And enjoy your career! Isn’t being a speech pathologist the best? I just love it!

      Heidi

  32. kendra says:

    My daughter takes a binky at bed time and use to be addactied to them she does not have any problems with what she says. I also broke her from her bottle at 8 months old she was on a sippy untill she got a little older she started drinking from a straw. Now my son I done the same thing but he never wanted a binky he does a speech delay but is catching up quickly. And my youngest is 8 months old I’m trying. To put her on a sippy cup she won’t touch it.

    • April says:

      Hi Kendra,
      Sorry for our delay in response. As you have experienced each child is different. It sounds like you are doing a great job! I hope you have found our blog helpful and good luck with everything!

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