From Baby Bottle to Cup

Tooth decay can occur as soon as a baby’s teeth appear. One of the risk factors for early childhood cavities is frequent and prolonged exposure of a baby’s teeth to liquids containing sugar- including milk, formula and fruit juice.

Because decay can destroy the teeth of an infant or toddler, parents should encourage their children to drink from a cup by their FIRST birthday. As you make the change from baby bottle to training cup, be very careful about

* what kind of training cup you choose
* what goes into the cup
* how frequently your child sips from it
* not allowing your child to carry the cup around.

The best training cup for your child in one with NO VALVE. No spill cups are nothing more than baby bottles in disguise. The only way your child can get liquid from a cup with a valve is by sucking (as from a baby bottle). This defeats the purpose, as it prevents your child from learning to sip.

Do not let your child constantly sip liquids containing sugar (including milk and juice drinks), because that encourages tooth decay. Offer those liquids only at mealtime- understanding that mealtimes for little ones may be more frequent that the standard 3 times a day for adults. Saliva production increases during a meal and helps neutralize acid production and rinse food particles from the mouth. If your child is thirsty between meals, offer water in the cup.

Do not let your child carry the training cup around, or get into the habit of keeping it within reach while riding in a car or stroller. At-will, frequent sips of sugary liquids encourage tooth decay. Another problem is that toddlers often are unsteady on their feet. They take an unnecessary risk if they try to walk and drink at the same time. Falling while drinking from a cup can injure the mouth. Do not let your child walk or run around with a training cup.

A training cup should be used temporarily. Once your child has learned how to sip, the training cup has achieved its purpose. It can and should be set aside when no longer needed.