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Why You Should Baby Proof Sippy Cups, Baby Bottles

Baby proof your sippy cups and baby bottles

New parents baby proof their kitchen cabinets, toilets, windows, and sharp edged furniture, but it may be time to add pacifiers and sippy cups to the list. While millions of mothers and fathers turn to pacifiers (aka a binky), sippy cups, and bottles to comfort and to help nourish their babies and toddlers, they may not realize these common items are not harmless.

When bottles, binkies, and sippy cups are harmful

Mother always said don’t run with scissors in your hands, but a new warning for today’s babies and toddlers may be to not walk, attempt to stand, or attempt to walk while holding or using a sippy cup, bottle, or pacifier.

According to a new study by investigators at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, pacifier, baby bottle, and sippy cup injuries requiring emergency department treatment befell the equivalent of one child every 4 hours between 1991 and 2010. This statistic came from a review of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and included 45,398 children younger than 3 years of age.

A breakdown of the data revealed the following:

  • Most of the injuries (86.1%) occurred in the home after a toddler fell while drinking from a baby bottle, resulting in contusions or lacerations to the mouth or face
  • One-year-olds were 7.62 times more likely to fall than their younger peers
  • 66.4% of injuries occurred in children younger than 1 year because they fell while using a bottle (57.5%) or a pacifier (33.8%)
  • Boys were more likely (61.2%) to be injured than were girls
  • The mouth was the body part most often injured (71%), followed by the head, face, or neck
  • The majority of injuries were associated with a bottle (65.8%), with a pacifier (19.9%) and sippy cups (14.3%) coming in second and third, respectively.
  • Product malfunction was involved in 4.4% of cases
  • Pacifiers were more likely to cause soft tissue injuries and dental injuries than were bottles or sippy cups

Use of baby bottles, sippy cups, and pacifiers is commonplace and a great convenience for parents and caregivers. In particular, use of pacifiers has been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) since 2005 as one way to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and this recommendation still stands.

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Use of pacifiers is associated with some drawbacks, however. For example,

  • It’s been suggested that early use of a pacifier might interfere with breastfeeding
  • Some infants may depend on a pacifier to fall asleep and then have crying episodes during the night when the pacifier falls out of his or her mouth
  • Prolonged use of a pacifier might result in dental problems, such as the top front teeth slanting outward
  • Use of a pacifier may increase a child’s risk of developing middle ear infections

Baby proof tips for parents
So how do you baby proof sippy cups, bottles, and pacifiers? According to Sarah Keim, PhD, and her co-authors, parents should encourage their toddlers to sit while they drink or eat rather than walk around.

Children also should not use these items for longer than recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. For bottles, the AAP recommends transitioning from bottles to a lidless drinking cup starting around age 1 year. The AAP also notes that “the sippy cup should be introduced at six months of age in preparation for weaning from the bottle or breast at 12 months.”

This study was the first to utilize a nationally representative sample to evaluate injuries associated with the use of sippy cups, baby bottles, and pacifiers, and highlights the importance of baby proofing these items for the safety of infants and toddlers.

American Academy of Pediatrics
Keim S et al. Injuries associated with bottles, pacifiers and sippy cups in the United States, 1991-2010. Pediatrics 2012; 129; DOI:10.1542/peds.2011-3349

Image: Wikimedia Commons