Warning! Pacifiers, sippy cups and bottles are dangerous - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Warning! Pacifiers, sippy cups and bottles are dangerous

Apparently my kid’s pacifier, bottle and sippy cup are all hidden hazards, and I am personally putting my son in danger by allowing him to sip water while playing or plugging him with a paci to calm a fit.

A recent New York Times article detailed these risks, saying that a report in the journal Pediatrics found that toddlers have sustained some serious mouth injuries from bottles, sippy cups and pacis — usually when running or toddling about with them.

Study author Sarah Keim told the Times that children should be taught to use regular cups, which are safer because parents are more likely to make their children sit or stay still while drinking to prevent spills.

But it was the reader comments that really made the maternal guilt flare up. If those parent-haters are to be believed, my son will not only knock his teeth out with his bottle, but he’ll also have childhood obesity because I’ve allowed him to take sips outside of mealtimes. He’ll also probably smoke because he’ll miss the oral stimulation of a paci.

Here’s what Linda from Oklahoma said: “Pacifiers seem like a bad idea to me, calming down by sticking something in your mouth. Maybe that’s why we eat so much or smoke because we associate calming down with something in the mouth.”

I read this article on the heels of my son’s newfound skill of throwing temper tantrums. I imagine these fits are just a small taste of what’s to come, but this week he started sporadically falling apart, crumpling onto the floor in whines, doubled over or flapping his arms in frustration.

Hold me! No, stop, put me down! I’m hungry! Get that food out of my face!

Sometimes the paci plug was all it took to calm him down. Now I’m supposed to take that away?

We also just transitioned him to whole milk and but he’s still drinking from a bottle. It seems like the only way I can ensure he actually is getting any milk. He’s a little more fickle on the sippy cup and often seems more interested in tossing his head back dramatically with it clenched in his teeth and then letting the liquid dribble out of his mouth as he flashes a devious grin.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should start weaning baby from the bottle at one year (off the bottle by 18 months), and paci use should be limited at six months (something about reducing the risk of middle ear infections).

So let me get this straight. Giving my kid a pacifier now might cause ear infections or put him in danger of busting up his face if he falls on it. Never mind that it makes my kid stop writhing on the floor or screaming in his car seat. Surely I’m also contributing to some inability to self-sooth and setting up an oral complex.

And for bottles, I’m supposed to wean him because prolonged bottle use can lead to dental and jaw problems and maybe speech problems and probably social adjustment problems and reading comprehension and long division problems. He will also most certainly become permanently disfigured when he falls face-first into the bottle. But sippy cups are just as hazardous so make sure he only uses those for the 45 seconds it takes to transition him to a cup. But not a glass cup because it could break. Or a plastic one because of the chemicals.

Susan from Piedmont, Calif., left a couple gems in the comments section. First, her splendidly sarcastic response to the fear-mongering:

“All toddlers should be firmly wrapped in cotton batting and stuffed into spaces so small that they cannot move. They should be fed by tubes. Under no circumstances should they be allowed into automobiles, or outdoors at all. This will keep them safe.”

She later chimed in again with a very reasonable perspective:

“My grandkids (they were invented quite recently, so my kids couldn’t use them) used sippy cups, and one of them swallowed a battery. Surprise! Amazing! Everyone survived the experience.”

Indeed kids will get hurt, whether it’s from running with a sippy cup or just running, because that’s what kids do. Parents will blame themselves for letting them run with a cup or stand or breathe. And we will blame ourselves for letting them use the paci too long, and for taking it away before the baby was ready to give it up. Because that’s what parents do.

Getting rid of the binky

Because I want to leave you with some kind of helpful information, and the fruits of my Googling, here are some tips for weaning from a pacifier:

  1. Dr. Sears suggested you take child and paci to the toy store for a “trade in” toy. Let the kid pick out a substitute for the pacifier, and then you give the cashier that slobbery germ-dripping plastic sucker in exchange. Apparently some clerks go for this. And baby’s happy with a new toy. Problem solved.
  2. He also suggested peer pressure. Surrounding your kid with paci-rejectors will relay the message that paci’s are so eight months ago.
  3. WebMD suggested a little deception. Cut the tip of the paci when baby’s not looking, then when baby wants it – surpise! It’s damaged, so sadly no sucky for you. Dramatically toss it in the trash. Voila!

Somehow I’m not completely convinced by these suggestions.  Anyone have other methods that actually work?

About the author

Sara Michael

Sara Michael is a first-time mom with Type A tendencies. She likes rules, makes lists, and follows plans. That all seemed to work out fine until she had a baby. Now she balances her need for order and answers with the desire to enjoy the unpredictable journey she is on with her 2-year-old son (and a second on the way). Her day job? She is a writer and editorial director at a health care media company where she manages content for an online publication. Her journalism background started in daily newspapers, covering health, science and government. Follow her on Twitter @sara_the_writer. Contact the author.


  1. Sara Michael
    Sara Michael says:

    Wow, that’s kind of convenient! I’ve heard a few good approaches this week to banishing the paci. One of my favorites was creating an elaborate story about the paci (or binky in this case) fairy who comes to take them away when you reach a certain age. I think it was 3 in this case. So the family had a whole story about the fairy who comes in the night and takes the paci to give to more needing tiny babies (a newborn sibling), and replaces it with a little toy. I heard it worked!

  2. lmoe says:

    #3 with a twist actually worked for us to wean from the paci. My son had an ear infection unbeknownst to us, and he actually chewed through all of his paci’s. He kept showing them to us saying “broken” and he eventually stopped using them. Little by little, we threw them away and he never once looked back. He was about 21 months.


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