Can Sippy Cups and Bottles Be Dangerous?

Possibly, but don’t go crazy. With a little common sense, you can protect your child from risks.

On May 14, 2012, the online edition of Pediatrics published the findings of a study that looked at injuries related to the use of Sippy cups, pacifiers, and baby bottles. Because the media love to cause a sensation, I can imagine that the newspapers and talk shows might have fun with this over the weeks ahead.

Counting Kids in Emergency Departments

The study tallied children ages three years and younger who visited emergency departments (EDs) during 1991-2010 with injuries caused by Sippy cups, pacifiers, and bottles. The researchers (who were from both the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and the Ohio State University) found that approximately 2,200 children came into EDs each year with such injuries.

The majority of these injuries (86 percent) involved children who had fallen while they were using or carrying a Sippy cup, a bottle, or a pacifier. Not surprisingly--given how unsteady on their feet children are when they are learning to walk--one-year-olds sustained the most injuries, followed by two-year-olds. Lacerations (cuts) were the most common injury.

Apply Common Sense--and Teach Kids Early

Does this mean you should throw away all the Sippy cups, bottles, and pacifiers in your home? I don’t think so. Obviously, almost all of these children were carrying one of these items around in or close to their mouths while walking around.

If you start with good habits early on, you can probably avoid the greater part of this risk.

  • Pacifiers. These calming aids should generally be reserved just for self-soothing at bedtime.
  • Sippy cups and bottles. Children do not need to be walking around with their drinks. They can get into the habit of sitting down when they want to quench their thirst. If they want to go play, the drink can “go away.” Really, most older kids just stop what they’re doing, take a drink, and then go back to their activity. Would you have your 8-year-old running down the soccer field with a water bottle in her hand?

I’ll admit that I was surprised by the large numbers of such injuries that these researchers found. But, sometimes the simplest studies are the best reminders to us all to practice a little common sense--and to start working with our children early on good habits.


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