4 Surprising Benefits of Open Cup Drinking
By Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz
Medical professionals know that there are many benefits of open cup drinking. But most parents are unaware of the developmental advantages that come from having their baby drink from an open cup starting at six months of age. Here are a few benefits of open cup drinking and why you should consider skipping the sippy cup.
Visual Development: When we teach open cup drinking, we want babies to be able to see the liquid inside the cup. Being able to visually see the breast milk (or formula) will help motivate your baby to practice open cup drinking. Sippy cups and 360 cups have lids that prevent visual sensory development. The ezpz Tiny Cup is an open cup that allows babies to see the liquid inside, which prepares their brain for safe drinking.
- Expert Tip: Purchase the Tiny Cup in a bright color to provide improved visual stimulation. The contrast between the white breast milk (or formula) against a red or blue colored cup can improve your baby's visual development. This color tip can help your baby obtain their open cup milestones easier and faster!
Facial Development: A baby’s facial development can be negatively impacted if they consistently suckle from a sippy cup. More specifically, their facial musculature and bone structure can be altered or stunted from what would have naturally developed. Drinking from an open cup, however, allows the facial muscles + bone structure to grow normally, which helps support appropriate speech, feeding and swallowing skills.
- Expert Tip: Did you know that every 4 hours a child is rushed to the hospital due to facial injuries sustained from the overuse of sippy cups, bottles or pacifiers? Skip the sippy cup in order to protect your baby’s adorable face shape! And try using the Tiny Cup, which is made from soft food grade silicone.
Swallowing Development: There aren’t any developmental milestones for suckling out of a sippy cup. But there are developmental milestones for drinking from an open cup and straw cup. A 6-month-old baby should be swallowing with their tongue tip elevated toward the roof of their mouth, which occurs when drinking from an open cup (held by an adult). This is called a mature swallow. When a baby drinks from a sippy cup their tongue is thrusted in a forward position, which is called an immature swallow. Thus, open cup drinking provides your baby with opportunities to learn age appropriate swallowing skills.
- Expert Tip: The ezpz Tiny Cup is a cup specifically designed for baby’s oral cavity, face structure and tongue placement. That is why the rim of the cup fits perfectly on the corners of your baby’s mouth. This size and placement are critical for proper lip closure and safe swallowing.
Speech Development: Most families have no idea that a sippy cup may contribute to speech, language and vocabulary delays. However, an open cup can facilitate speech development. Open cup drinking promotes strong lip closure, which is the movement we need to produce the m, p, and b sounds in English, Spanish and many other languages. Open cup drinking also facilitates appropriate tongue elevation for the t and d sounds. It’s no surprise that these speech sounds help produce baby's first words, including mama, papa, bye-bye, tummy and doggie!
- Expert Tip: Implement a new routine by practicing open cup drinking for as little as 5 minutes a day. By learning correct lip closure and tongue elevation, your baby will be primed for improved speech, language and vocabulary skills.
Were you familiar with the open cup drinking benefits before reading this blog? How will your family incorporate the ezpz Tiny Cup with your baby? Let us know and send us your open cup drinking pics using the hashtags #ezpzfun and #tinycup.
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Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 26 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning Tiny Cup & Tiny Spoon (for infants) and the Mini Cup + Straw Training System & Mini Utensils (for toddlers).