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Are Pacifiers, Sippy Cups, and Bottles Safe?

Are Pacifiers, Sippy Cups, and Bottles Safe?

Little kids suck! I say this, not making a qualitative judgment on their character, but simply making an observation that their insatiable desire to explore the world through their mouth drives them to chew and suck on just about anything within reach. Some young children suck on blankets, stuffed animals, or even their fingers. The majority of these mouth-fixated children resort to commercially available options like pacifiers, sippy cups, and all manner of bottles and teething toys. I have literally seen kids with key rings loaded, not with sharp metal keys, but with an assortment of pacifiers in a rainbow of colors. I have seen young children as old as 4 saunter around the house with a sippy cup or bottle dangling from their lips. For my son, he was not so big on these store-bought suckers, so taking away the “binky” or pacifier was never something we needed to wrestle with, but zillions of parents have this fight. A question adding fuel to this fight is whether or not all of these sucking toys and thingamajigs are actually safe.

Now volumes have been written about whether or not pacifiers and the like are good or bad for kids. Obviously having your kid habitually suck on latex, rubber, or plastic should probably raise some red flags, but what we are talking about here has more to do with the immediate physical threat of having a sizable piece of hard or soft plastic in your mouth while toddling around the world. According to a report in the journal Pediatrics, kids who routinely get hurt while sucking on one of these contraptions would likely be in better shape if they just unplugged (or at least had their parents unplug them). The Los Angeles Times reported last month that researchers at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Ohio State University in Columbus reviewed Consumer Product Safety Commission records to try to ascertain how many kids wound up in emergency rooms with injuries associated with bottle, pacifier or sippy cup use between 1991 and 2010. In all, they estimated that number to be 45,398 children — an average of 2,270 cases per year. One-year-olds accounted for nearly two-thirds of the injuries. Over 60% of the injured kids were boys. Bottles were the offending item in 65.8% of cases. While none of these injuries were fatal, we parents know that a trip to the ER is just not the optimal way to spend a Wednesday night.

So is the answer to never introduce such pacifying devices, or just to take them away well before the kids become ambulatory? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends dumping bottles in favor of lidless cups at 12 months; binkies are best gone by 6 months. But that is easier said than done, as most parents can attest. So what is your view on the matter? Is it best to never introduce such sucking devices in the first place? If so, what would be your sucking alternative?

 

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Read more: Babies, Caregiving, Children, Family, Health, Health & Safety, Home, Oral Care, Parenting at the Crossroads, , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

46 comments

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2:44PM PDT on Aug 18, 2012

Pacifiers saved us, and my son's was gone by one year. Keep an eye on them. No child 2 and under should be left unsupervised for any amount of time. Bottles and sippy cups are usually a necessary evil, supervise and keep them clean and check them for holes and tears. This is not rocket science, it is pure common sense

11:05AM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

"Binkies best gone by 6 months!" I've had a binkie all my life...even as an adult and I'm not ashamed to admit it. If something so simple gives a child or an adult some peace at the end of the day then go for it. It's not hurting anyone. And JANE R. you are SO WRONG about crooked teeth...mine are straight as a pin and that has been after a life-time of sucking.

11:03AM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

"Binkies best gone by 6 months!" I've had a binkie all my life...even as an adult and I'm not ashamed to admit it. If something so simple gives a child or an adult some peace at the end of the day then go for it. It's not hurting anyone. And JANE R. you are SO WRONG about crooked teeth...mine are straight as a pin and that has been after a life-time of sucking.

11:03AM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

"Binkies best gone by 6 months!" I've had a binkie all my life...even as an adult and I'm not ashamed to admit it. If something so simple gives a child or an adult some peace at the end of the day then go for it. It's not hurting anyone. And JANE R. you are SO WRONG about crooked teeth...mine are straight as a pin and that has been after a life-time of sucking.

11:02AM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

"Binkies best gone by 6 months!" I've had a binkie all my life...even as an adult and I'm not ashamed to admit it. If something so simple gives a child or an adult some peace at the end of the day then go for it. It's not hurting anyone. And JANE R. you are SO WRONG about crooked teeth...mine are straight as a pin and that has been after a life-time of sucking.

12:52AM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

My son had a pacifier as a baby. Bottles were given to him when he was either held or at the table. He switched gradually to a sippy cup from 12-15 months, and at that point, until he was ready to give it up completely at about 2 and a half, he used a pacifier only at nap/bed time, more as a comfort thing.

He's never had an accident, never had speech problems due to the pacifier, nor has he had dental problems. He's now 12, and well adjusted.

2:48AM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

Jane R., I disagree about NEVER giving a baby a pacifier, but I would suggest doing so only when still taking a bottle or nursing when one or the other is not appropriate or possible. Once a baby is old enough to no longer NEED one or the other, then a pacifier or a "sippy cup" to me, is doing little but telling the kid, don't cry, don't throw a tantrum, don't complain........lighten up, Mommy's going to give you something to put in your mouth instead. You're right about the dental issues.

8:28AM PDT on Jun 18, 2012

Felicia, I can't send you a star because I sent you one in the past week, but consider this another green star.

I had three kids--the third used a pacifier. Let me tell you, it was a LOT easier to get him to stop sucking on a pacifier than it was to get his two older siblings to stop sucking their thumbs. What next--amputate thumbs at birth so they don't suck them? (Child #2 was sucking his thumb from the day he was born--really not a learned behavior.)

And please--no sippy cups? Maybe some people have plenty of time to clean up dozens of spills a day. I didn't. I did, however, have a rule that sippy cups were like any other cups--used at the dining table and not carried around.

It is impossible to get rid of everything that might possibly injure a child. Stop substituting regulations for common sense.

And congratulations to those whose kids never needed any extra soothing. You're obviously superior parents and the rest of us should just hang it up.

5:07AM PDT on Jun 18, 2012

thanks

7:08PM PDT on Jun 16, 2012

Never give a baby a pacifier, and take the bottle away asap. Ask any orthodontist and he will tell you that prolonged use will cause teeth to grow crooked. A baby or todler only need the comfort of their parents when they feel stressed. A pacifier is only to keep the parent from having to comfort the baby. Sippy cups are fine but only for a short time. I never used one on my daughter, I used a regular cup and in no time a baby can liearn to drink from one.
NEVER put a baby to bed with a bottle in it's mouth. You are promoting bad teeth formation. Give them all they need to eat and then put them to bed.

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people are talking

I was expecting more from pineapples. But I don't really care too much :) Thank you anyway :)

I'll try this with my cats, thank you.

I cook a lot with wine but never thought about making my own red wine vinegar. Will give that a go.

Petition signed,thanks for sharing

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