Sippy Cups and Their Effect of Speech Development


Is your child ready for a sippy cup? As parents, we all look forward to this milestone for our children, but did you know that picking the right sippy cup is important? 

By selecting a traditional sippy cup, it can hinder your child’s oral development which is vital to speech production, as well as, swallowing. Traditional sippy cups containing spouts/valves cause the tongue to be pushed back in the oral cavity and teaches improper placement of the tongue. Who knew?

Let’s look at it this way, when babies begin their feeding journey using bottle or breast, they use what we call a suckling reflex. This reflex is when a baby holds the nipple in between the tongue and the roof of the mouth and compresses the nipple to extract milk. The tongue is using an anterior/posterior (front & back) motion in order to do so. In the first year of life, a baby will transition from this suckling reflex to a more matured sucking pattern. If a child transitions from a bottle straight to a traditional sippy cup, the child will generally continue to use this same suckling pattern where their tongue is protruded and placed under the sippy spout not allowing the tongue tip to elevate. This results in a more forward positioning of the tongue at rest in the mouth, this may also be seen in children who have prolonged use of a pacifier. A more mature sucking pattern will have the child retract their tongue and their lips will tighten around the straw or cup without using the tongue for support.


When overusing these types of traditional sippy cups, it can result in an open bite, lisp, mispronunciation of sounds, and tongue thrust (tongue protrudes between front teeth during speech or swallowing). As easy as it is to grab a sippy cup and run out the door, there are also several other available options that will allow your child to develop the proper tongue placement for speech and swallowing. Listed below are some of the Speech-Language Pathologist approved transition cups for your little one:

  • Straw cups: Munchkin Weighted Straw Trainer cup, OXO TOT straw cup with handles, and Philips Avent My Bendy Straw Cup. 
  • Once mastering the use of the straw cup, it is suggested to cut the tip of the straw shortening it so that it just reaches the tip of the tongue when the mouth is closed around it to ensure the tongue can still elevate. 
  • Open Cup Style: Munchkin 360 Sippy Cup, Dr. Brown’s Cheers 360 cup with handles, and OXO Tots Open Cup Trainer. 

If you have questions about your child’s speech and language development, give us a call at 318-396-1969 and we’ll be happy to help!


West Monroe





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