When to Skip the Sippy Cup

Many parents love sippy cups- they are great for “on-the-go” days and avoiding spills and messes! However, the problem with sippy cups is that prolonged and frequent use can impact a child’s development of speech and feeding skills. Below are three reasons why you may consider skipping the sippy cup:

  1. Tooth decay: Constantly sipping on anything that is not water can lead to tooth decay because the child does not have the opportunity to rinse away the sugars from the juice or milk with their own saliva. The acid from the drink may break down the tooth enamel leading to tooth decay. If you are going to use sippy cups for anything besides water, it is best to limit to only meal times and to take breaks with water to rinse your child’s teeth.
  2. Oral-motor delays: At around 12-months, a baby’s swallowing pattern matures from a front to back swallowing pattern to a more advanced swallowing pattern where the tongue raises to the top of the mouth and starts a wave-like motion for swallowing. It is important for babies to move to this new swallowing pattern as it allows them to transition from soft solids and liquids to more advanced foods and textures. When using a hard-spouted sippy cup, the sprout rests on the front of the tongue impeding the ability of the tongue to elevate to the top of the mouth. When a child uses a hard-sprouted sippy cup for a prolonged period of time, it can impact their ability to develop a mature swallowing pattern necessary for chewing and swallowing age-appropriate foods.
  3. Speech and language delays: Prolonged use of a sippy cup can impact a child’s ability to develop a mature swallowing pattern which means that their oral-motor skills may not be well-developed. Decreased oral-motor skills may lead to a greater likelihood that the child has difficulty saying and imitating certain sounds.

Other options? A great alternative to the sippy cup is a straw cup. There are some great options for spill-proof straw cups at most stores. Straw cups can offer the same “on-the-go” convenience of a sippy cup while still promoting appropriate oral-motor development!

Claire Kakenmaster, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist

Toys: How Many Is Too Many?

“It is a happy talent to know how to play,” -Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Toys help foster children’s play development. Toys are one of the first opportunities that a child has to explore and interact in their environment. They open up a world of learning opportunities through education of play. Toys provide developmental growth when it comes to cognition, language, motor skills, and social interactions (plus many more). They create opinions, reactions, and fun experiences. These experiences allow a child to engage independently and socially. Toys must be introduced and used interactively with another social/ communitive partner (i.e. an adult or parent). A child must learn how to functionally play with a toy in order to use a toy to the fullest.

Although toys have many benefits for toddlers and preschoolers, having too many toys can feel overwhelming and distracting. A toddler can feel distracted by the overload of toys and not use the toys to their full potential. A toy must be introduced to a toddler first to learn the functionality of the toy. Too many toys can distract a child from focusing their attention on one toy at a time. Many children will pick up toy bins/containers, dump them out, move them around, the room, instead of using them for their functionality. Using a toy functionally with adult assistance will help a toddler use the toy to the fullest. After a child is done using a toy having them clean up and move on to the next activity will help with the growth of their attention span. Having too many toys does not encourage the growth of their attention span.

Tips

  • When your child gets a new toy engage with the toy together first! Get on your child’s level (one the floor) and look at the toy together! Talk about what the toy is, what the toy can do, and play with your toddler and the toy.
    • Example: “Wow look at your new red car! I love how shinny it is. Vroom Vroom let’s see how fast the car goes!”
  • Select toys that have multiple developmental benefits. For example, find toys that can be used to benefit cognition and language growth.
  • Organize your child’s toys into bins to help your child organize what they are playing with.
    • Use pictures to highlight what toy goes in which bin
  • Switch out the toys and the bins to keep things fresh.
    • Example: don’t have all your toys out at reach for your child at all times. Put some toys out of sight so that your child can focus their attention on the toys in front of them.

Have fun playing!

Rachel Weiser, MS, DT

Developmental Therapist

Resources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/12/05/many-toys-bad-children-study-suggests/

https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/may2017/case-brain-science-guided-play

https://www.therapyshoppe.com/

Playing with Books!

Children’s books can be used at any stage of development to facilitate improvements in both expressive and receptive language skills. Today, we will be focusing on building preverbal skills and eventually eliciting first words by playing with books. Before children begin to use words, they use gestures to communicate. They then begin to pair these gestures with vocalizations to obtain desired items or actions, and eventually use animal noises, exclamatory phrases, and sound effects in play.

Books are filled with a variety of age-appropriate pictures that are easy to pair with gestures and sounds. Pick one or two pictures per page so that your child can start to do them spontaneously. If they are not copying your gestures right away, do not be afraid to take their hand and help them “beep beep” on the truck or “tickle tickle” a baby’s feet.

Below, I have attached a table with examples of common pictures found in children’s books and what I might do when I see them.

Once your child builds their imitation of gestures and sounds, they might begin to fill in routine phrases, which come up often in repetitive books. As your child becomes familiar with the book, you can pause and have them fill in a word. For example, in Brown Bear Brown Bear, each page ends with, “What do you see?” You can set the child up to fill in that phrase by saying, “what do you…” and looking at your child in anticipation.

Have fun!!

Ana Thrall, MS, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist