Sippy Cups and Lisps

By Pam Marshalla

Q: Do you believe that early frequent use of sippy cups can contribute to, establish, or perpetuate a frontal lisp in children?

I find it hard to believe that a sippy cup would cause a frontal lisp pattern in an otherwise normal child. I suspect it can happen, but we don’t have real evidence for this. These are the types of questions that I wish young doctoral students would begin to focus on in their research. We need answers to hundreds of questions like this.

However, I have often seen children with neuromuscular dysfunction who have this problem. They perpetuate a severe reverse swallow pattern, and an interdental tongue position in speech, while the sippy cup continues to be used. Taking the client away from the sippy cup away is not the answer, however. The client needs help developing the appropriate head-jaw-lip-cheek-tongue positions and movements for both speech and feeding.

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