How a sippy cup affects a child’s speech

When assessing your child’s speech we may ask questions about what type of cup your child uses at home.  It may seem unrelated to their speech sounds, but really anything your child puts in their mouth (thumb, chew toys, pacifiers, cups, etc.) can affect their speech! 

Below are reasons why certain cups are or are not recommended by speech therapists for promoting correct tongue positioning while drinking.

Sippy cups are not recommended (at least those with a hard spout) because it can block the tongue from where it needs to be during the swallow.  The tongue needs to be able to make contact behind the front teeth which allows for a mature swallow pattern.  This is why doctors recommend weaning from a bottle by the age of one. If there is a hard spout in the way of the tongue elevating to the bump behind the front teeth, it can start to affect the tongue’s resting position.  Over time, the tongue can start to rest forward which is how it impacts speech!

Rather than a sippy cup with a hard spout, we recommend using a straw cup, open cup or a 365 cup.   A straw cup (the shorter the straw the better) is a good option because it still allows the tongue to touch behind the front teeth to swallow.  A great cup for teaching a young child how to drink from a straw is the Honey Bear cup. With this, a parent is able to gently squeeze the bear allowing for water to come up the straw and the child catches on easily!

An open cup is ideal, but obviously not appropriate for a young child, so another great option are the 360 cups.  These have no spout and the child can drink from anywhere on the lid. 

Whether or not your child has any speech sound difficulties it is a good idea to steer clear of the hard spouted cups!  There are so many cup options that it is easy to become overwhelmed, but now, armed with this information, you will be able to make an informed decision about the right cup for your child!

-Carrie Ravine, MA, CCC-SLP

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