Sippy Cups

When my daughter was in a co-op preschool and I was on snack duty, it wasn’t a question of if someone would spill milk but when. I stood at the ready, a sponge in each hand, as the long table of 3 to 5 year olds poured milk from measuring cups into their cups.

The teachers were teaching at that snack table: manners, taking turns, and hand-eye coordination. One of their tools? Plain old cups.

Once upon a time, a sippy cup was a simple affair: a cup with a lid and a few perforated holes for sipping. Somewhere along the line, these cups morphed into a high tech, high design, high price replacement for a regular cup.

Now we are sold on the fact that sippy cups are a necessary convenience. They allow children to move through their environment without spilling messy liquids on the carpet, the car seat, the couch. Drinking and eating for toddlers, however, are best done in the context of meals and scheduled mini-meals between breakfast and lunch and again between lunch and dinner. Children shouldn’t be eating and drinking on the move. The first thing they do when they fall with food in their mouth is take a deep breath in to cry, and anything in the mouth may become lodged in the windpipe. A child that falls with a sippy cup or a straw may damage the teeth or mouth.

Besides, sippy cups are a bear to clean.

A sippy cup with a rounded bottom to prevent tipping is just the thing for your 6 month old. Once your child can sip, transition to a regular cup.

More information about choosing and using sippy cups from the American Dental Association is here.

About Lisa M. Asta, MD

Lisa M. Asta, M.D. is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she is also a Media Representative (she has been interviewed for “Kids Health” on Health Radio, and quoted in Parenting Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, among other publications). She is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and past pediatric chair at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Asta is also a writer whose fiction has appeared in Inkwell, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill, and Zeniada. Her essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hippocrates, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New Physician Magazine. She is an occasional contributor to KQED public radio’s Perspectives series, and has written articles for Bay Area Parent, Valley Parent, Parents’ Press, and Parents Express, as well as online at,, and She wrote a chapter in The Field Guide to the Normal Newborn, ed. Gary Emmet, M.D. currently has two how-to videos for parents in production which feature Dr. Asta. For more on Dr. Asta’s writing, visit
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