When considering potential dangers to their children, most parents wouldn’t think of sippy cups, those little spouted cups used to help toddlers transition from nursing bottles to open drinking vessels. And yet, two new studies published in an influential pediatrics journal have found several little-known causes of injuries to children, including pacifiers, nursing bottles, sippy cups and button batteries (the type used in watches).
One report showed that over two thousand children per year in the United States were treated in emergency rooms for injuries involving bottles, pacifiers and sippy cups between 1991 and 2010. The actual number of injuries is probably much higher, since minor injuries are usually handled by parents or family physicians. Sippy cups, nursing bottles and pacifiers can cause mouth and tooth injuries if toddlers fall while holding them.
The report states that most of the injuries occurred in one-year-old children. Bottles were the most common culprit (66 percent), followed by pacifiers (20 percent) and sippy cups (14 percent). Injuries typically occurred at home when the child was running or walking with the object.
Most children use a pacifier or nursing bottle at one time or another. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents have children stop using pacifiers by the age of about 6 months and that they have them transition from bottles to lidless cups by their first birthday, when toddlers are usually learning to walk. It seems most parents ignore these guidelines, though: certain studies suggest that nearly half of all children between the ages of one and two are still using bottles, and more than three quarters of them drink from sippy cups.
Button batteries found in toys and watches are another little-known danger to children. Although rarely fatal, swallowing them can cause severe tissue damage in less than two hours, so keep an eye on curious toddlers!
In order to prevent injuries, ask yourself on a regular basis how your child’s new abilities (e.g. crawling, walking or climbing) can create potential hazards, and adapt your environment accordingly.