Thursday, February 25, 2016

Breaking the Mold: A Pediatrician's Guide to the Sippy Cup Scandal of 2016

If you’re a new or semi-new parent, you’ve likely seen the  jaw-dropping photographs on your facebook news feed or on the nightly news about the moldy sippy cup that surfaced a few days ago. The pictures are causing quite a stir among parents and caregivers of toddlers, who are continuing to find more and more cases of mold in the hidden valves and spill guards of sippy cups.


While these pictures may represent the extreme cases, they do serve to highlight the fact that products for babies and toddlers need to be cleaned properly to assure the health and safety of children.  A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to take apart each piece to clean thoroughly with soap and water or via the dishwasher. Sippy cups with “magic” compartments or pieces that do not come apart pose a risk for accumulation of water and material, which can promote mold or bacterial growth. 

Which sippy cup should I use?
There are about as many different types of sippy cups as there are makes/models of cars. There may not be one perfect sippy cup for all occasions. You’ll want to make sure that your sippy cup is BPA free, and that your toddler is actually able to sip from it (easier said than done, and may require some testing to find your child’s favorite!) You’ll want several easy-to-clean for at home use (like a Take n’ Toss cup with lid and straw), and another option for on-the-go with more leak protection.  Be mindful that the leak/spill prevention sippy cups will often have hidden valves that will require extra cleaning to prevent mold growth. Clean these almost immediately after use and be sure to take apart the entire cup, checking underneath the lid for all pieces/compartments. When using sippy cups, parents will sometimes have the tendency to continue to use the same cup day after day, with only a quick rinse between uses. If you wouldn’t use the same glass to drink from day after day without a full wash, neither should your toddler.

Safety First
Toddlers and children should not be allowed to run or play while holding their sippy cup. Tens of thousands of children are treated every year in emergency rooms for injuries from sippy cups – most often from falling while holding the cup.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends against “no spill” cups because the valves promote sucking rather than sipping. While this recommendation might not always be practical for parents, try to avoid overuse of the no-spill cup to keep your pediatric dentist happy.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the ADA advise against allowing a toddler or child to take a sippy cup into their crib or bed at night or naptime. This can lead to bad habits and increases the risk for dental decay. 

And While We’re On The Subject…
Other commonly neglected devices to be cleaned:

Nasal bulb aspirators: You may recall a previously “viral” photo of a mold-filled bulb nasal bulb aspirator that made its rounds on social media. These devices are extremely difficult to clean. Instead, nasal suction devices like the Nose Frida or other nasal aspirators which can be taken apart and thoroughly cleaned to prevent build-up of mold and bacteria are recommended.

Humidifiers: If used, should be cleaned thoroughly every day to prevent mold growth which can become aerosolized and lead to respiratory illnesses or other health problems.

{Sippy Cup} Bottoms Up! 

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