Apr 24, 2014

A Treatise on the Sippy Cup: I Bought All the Things

A look into our cabinet
I bought all of them. Every one. I'm referring to cups for the boys.
When it came time to introduce water last summer, I did my thing and took to researching. This time, my extensive research wasn't quite as extensive as usual (cut me some slack will ya? I had two little guys to take care of!) so my quick Google search told me that the sippy cup was invented in the 1980s by a mechanical engineer named Richard Belanger who was tired of cleaning up spills. He patented the cup in 1992 and licensed it to Playtex. These spill proof cups were invented for parents not for kids. Nothing about them is a childhood developmental milestone. They weren't designed with kids in mind. They were designed to limit messes and make life easier for parents.
And doctors, speech pathologists and other childhood specialists all agree that sippy cups aren't so great. In fact, sippy cups are correlated (important word. Repeat a basic statistics mantra with me: correlation is not causation!) with an increase in orthodontic issues, tooth decay, speech impediments and delays, and other issues. These are actually some of the same problems associated with prolonged bottle usage - which is kind of the point. The sippy cup is just another version of a bottle! And, just like bottles the American Academy of pediatrics recommends phasing out sippy cups and bottles by one (and certainly being done with them by two).
Like a bottle, sippy cups are bad for teeth because we as parents allow kids to sip on them throughout the day and over long extended periods of time which can lead to tooth decay. Like a bottle, sippy cups are bad for the mouth because the act of drinking from the hard spout contributes to malformations of the soft palate and expensive orthodontia down the road.
These are pretty big issues with the sippy cup, but not the biggest. The biggest reason (in my opinion) to steer clear is the effect on speech. The sippy cup promotes an anterior-posterior movement of the tongue that is similar, but not the same, as the pattern used in bottle feeding. So it keeps toddlers making developmentally inappropriate mouth formations rather than the more mature swallowing pattern they need to learn. The sippy cup isn't a training cup or a next step cup and in fact keeps toddlers doing baby like motions instead of learning the life skills they need.
Two alternatives exist: (1) go straight to cups or (2) straw cups.
Alternative 2. The straw cup.
Some parents choose to go straight to cups with their toddler and will purchase actual training cups like this Doidy Cup or the Wow Cup. These teach your child to drink from a real cup. A great life-long skill! I considered this option for all of five seconds. I have twins. I don't have time for that game! Holding a cup for them every single time they need a drink? And cleaning up the constantly dropped cups. I'm just not ready. The designed for parents sippy cups were made for a reason after all!
So, we looked into option 2, straw cups! Straw cups have actually been shown to have benefits for oral development and are even used therapeutically in speech.

You might have come here thinking I was going to review sippy cups. I'm not. I'm going to introduce you to our collection of straw cups and walk you through our journey to using them. This does involve one sippy cup. And lots of straw cups. Every one of the straw cups I could find.
When the boys were 6m we introduced their first straw cup, this one from Playtex (similar but not exact. Playtex has changed some models). It's a pretty great intro cup because it has soft little areas for mom (or dad) to squeeze and help get water into babies mouth. Once they've had a bit of success getting water from the cup, they are more eager to do it again. So they try harder. The boys figured out these cups by the end of day one.
First cups! The cups have a mixture of water and juice at the recommendation of the pedi GI.
But these cups aren't a long term solution. Those same little squeezable areas that are so amazing on day one quickly become a problem once little hands figure them out. The boys were squeezing water everywhere! The straw in this cup also doesn't reach all the way to the bottom of cup and so almost 2oz of liquid is wasted. When you are just using cups for water (like I was in the beginning) it's no big deal. But I knew we would eventually be transitioning to breastmilk in a cup. And losing 2oz of breastmilk is unacceptable!
We next bought the Zoli Cup. And loved it. The weighted straw was absolutely perfect. The biggest drawback to the Zoli Cup is the way the lid attaches to the cup. If you take the time and do it right, the cup rarely leaks. And even when it leaks it is just a few drops. But, if you don't do it right, the lid is useless. Unlike the Playtex cup with its nice click to ensure you twisted the lid all the way on, the Zoli doesn't let you know. So I have to shake it upside down over the sink every time I refill the cups.
Zoli cups at the picnic table outside.
Labels from My Two Babes on Etsy. Or find her store on Facebook.
For the six months when cups were solely for water, this is all we owned. We had four Zoli cups that we used regularly and two Playtex cups that sat in the cabinet.
And then it was time to transition away from bottles.
I started putting breastmilk in the Zoli cup. No dice. They refused to drink it.
I tried putting coconut milk in the Zoli cup. No dice. They refused to drink it.
I tried putting almond milk in the Zoli cup. No dice. They refused to drink it.
I tried the Playtex cup again. They squeezed breastmilk all over their highchairs. And refused to drink it.
The bottle transition wasn't going well. So I started asking other moms for help and I got an awesome suggestion from a mom in the Lil Mamas Facebook group. A regular sippy cut is just like a bottle (duh!) and can ease the transition. Get a bottle that morphs into a sippy and ease into the transition. So obvious right?
So, I got four Joovy Boob bottles and they had no issue taking breastmilk or almond milk or coconut milk from those. (And I actually like the Joovy Boobs better than the Dr. Brown's bottles we had been using the past 12 months. I'm hoping the new baby liked the Joovy Boobs because he might be getting them and we can consign our huge Dr. Brown's collection). I then added the handles that are sold with the Joovy Dood sippy cup. They are also compatible with the Joovy Boob and made the bottle slightly more sippy cup like. Next, I changed the spout to the Joovy Dood sippy spout. It took maybe a day for them to accept the new spout. At this point they were drinking breastmilk from a sippy cup with no fight at all. The Joovy Boob bottle is pretty great, and the fact that with these two changes it becomes the Joovy Dood sippy cup makes it a great transition cup! To complete the transition, I took a week mixing expressed breastmilk with almond milk until they were completely transitioned to milk from a sippy cup. Success!
Tripp with the Playtex.
We kept using sippy cups (always the Joovy Dood) for a few weeks and then a re-introduced the straw cup. And we had no issues! (Cue the Hallelujahs!)
Once we were using our Zoli cups for milk at every meal, the leaking started to bother us more. So we went on a hunt for a better straw cup.
  • Lansinoh mOmma. Like the Zoli Cup, this cup has a weighted straw which is great, but the rounded bottom got old fast. It was far to easy to knock off the table and it didn't carry well in the diaper bag.
  • Skip Hop Straw (Dinosaur). We got a Skip Hop cup in our Citrus Lane box and were actually pretty impressed so we ordered another. These cups are great for water. They don't leak at all. The boys seem to really like them. They are gosh darn cute. But the straw is horrible and doesn't reach anywhere near the bottom of the cup. I absolutely refused to put breastmilk in these. Now that they drink "milk" it isn't as bad, but I am still very annoyed by the amount of waste at the bottom of the cup. These clean well and are easy to assemble.
  • Munchkin Click Lock Flip Straw Cup. Like the name says, this cup has a great click lop system. And a flip top. We hate this cup. Davis learned how to remove the plastic flip top piece and will put the whole thing in his mouth. Choking hazard!! I can't give them this cup unless I know I will be watching like a hawk. It is rarely used. I could tell you about the straw length and the leaking but none of that matters because it just isn't safe. (Really, everything about this cup is fairly decent with the exception of the whole choking hazard part.)
  • Avent Straw Cup. This is one of our very favorites. It holds 9oz which is really great for leaving the house. The lid twists on securely and never leaks. The straw is not a good weighted straw, but does reach nearly all the way to the bottom of the cup so not as much milk is wasted. The boys drink from it well and seem to like it. This cup is tricky to disassemble and I actually had to read the instructions (for a cup!). The lid is so well secured that it isn't easy to pop off. Once disassembled it cleans well and re-assembles very quickly.
  • Playtex Lil Gripper Straw Cup (this is the closest I can find. Playtex updated the styling so this is not the exact cup we have). These cups are just okay. While all straw cups suffer from liquid pushing up the straw, this is the only cup we have where the liquid comes out like a geyser. It is very easy to take apart for cleaning - maybe too easy. When my boys shake the cup they frequently dislodge the straw and so can't drink anymore. It also has a straw that is, yet again, at least an ounce short on the bottom.
Their are three straws cups I haven't tried and would be interested in.
  • The LollaCup is a great weighted straw cup with really good reviews. I haven't bought it because the handles make it HUGE and after seeing it in the store I just couldn't fathom carrying it around in a diaper bag. I have heard a lot of negative comments about the handle design and they crack if the cup is dropped or thrown. I might try buying this cup when my boys outgrow the need to throw all things.
  • The ThinkBaby doesn't have a weighted straw but the straw is long enough that most of the liquid comes out. However, it only comes in orange. And I have twins. Who need differentiation so I know who has drank how much. So a cup in one color doesn't do it for me. I could put name labels on them (I have adorable ones from MyTwoBabes on Etsy) but I wouldn't be able to quickly grab the right cup without looking for the label. Not okay.
  • Munchkin Weighted Straw. I am really interested in trying out this new cup from Munchkin. It has the leakproof click lock system - without the dangerous flip top. And it has a weighted straw! It is new to the market and I haven't found it any local stores yet. It is on Amazon (my go to shopping location) but shipping prices are ridiculous for a sippy cup! (Why is everything not Prime?!) So I'm waiting to see it at my local baby store or until I find time to drive to the further away Buy Buy Baby that has them in the store.
With all of the new information coming out that even BPA plastic might be bad for our health (read here) I know many parents are choosing to forego the plastic and use glass or stainless steel bottles and cups. The most common brand I have known people to switch to is the LifeFactory Glass Bottles, although for bottles I have to say that I really like the new Glass Joovy Boob Bottles. Neither brand has a straw cup designed for toddlers though. LifeFactory has this sippy cup and this straw bottle for adults but neither are the right option for our family. We like straw cups for oral health and I need one that is toddler friendly. I'll just twiddle my thumbs and wait for one to come out.
But until then we bought two Foogo Thermos Straw Cups. They are stainless steel so no plastic concerns. They has a straw. AND they are heavily insulated and can keep drinks cold for 12 hours which will be a huge plus in the Texas sun! These babies arrived at my house on Tuesday and after just one day of use I don't feel fully qualified to give a full review, but I will say that I'm pleased. The lid is a flip top and does come off when the boys throw the cup, so I am storing the lid in a drawer for now. Without the lid I haven't had any huge leaking issues and I can easily pop it back on for errands and outings.

Apr 23, 2014

Happy 30th Birthday!

My Dearest Darling Bucko,
One of our earliest dates. At the Dallas Arboretum.
May 2003. 19 year old Casey.

As I write this, you are still 29. Still in that youthful decade of self-exploration and discovery. But tomorrow is a big day. Your birthday. Your 30th birthday.

It's pretty incredible to think that when we met, we were still teenagers. Freshmen in college. No true responsibilities. Unsure who we were. Even less idea where we were going. But we went there together.

(1) Mardi Gras in New Orleans. February 2003 before we were dating.
(2) Skiiing in Angel Fire. December 2005.
(3) Swing dancing in college. Sophomore year (2003/2004?)
(4) SMU v Baylor football game. Fall 2005.
Here we are, 11 years later. And you are 30. No hiding from adulthood now. Not that we could before. The twins are asleep in the other room. I'm 6.5 months pregnant. You have a successful finance career. We have a mortgage. A car payment. 401ks. Clearly adults already.
Daddy with both his boys. September 2013.
We grew up together over these years. We discovered who we were, individually and as a couple. We grew closer to God. We grew closer to each other. We learned about responsibility, and bills, and mortgages, and budgeting together. We learned the importance of family. We've seen friends come and go and have learned who it is we can really count on. We are growing into the people God intended us to be. Learning our purpose. Learning our place. And we've done it all together. Stronger because we were together.
I know you always said that by 30 you would have enough money to retire from running your own hedge fund. And that lofty goal didn't work out. While retiring together sounds pretty nice, I'll happily put that off for a few more years (or even decades) for the opportunity to continue watching you grow as a man and as a father.
Davy sleeping with Daddy. April 2013.

So now, we will enter into your next decade together. You have worked so hard this past year. Balancing God, our relationship, your demanding career, and fatherhood isn't easy but I have seen you do it smashingly. I have seen you make incredibly positive changes in yourself and in your attitude. I have watched you grow closer to God. I have seen your priorities shift and change to welcome two beautiful little people into your life. I have been so impressed by your commitment to do better. My heart overflows with love for you. I love you more today than the day you proposed. More than the day we were married.

Engagement Photos. July 2006.
I feel so content, so safe, so secure, in the life we have built together. This security makes everything else seem easier. Doable. I know that this next decade will be amazing. As long as we stay strong together. Our relationship is strong. We have found our groove as parents and worked hard to align our priorities: God, each other, our kids.
I feel so privileged to raise three boys with you. I'm so glad they are boys because I know that our sons have the most outstanding role model they could ask for. Tripp, Davis, and our third little bundle are lucky little boys. They are incredibly blessed to have you as a father and your example as their first introduction to The Father's love. I would be the luckiest mom in the world if our sons grow up to be like you!

Three boys in Burberry. Father's Day and Baptism Day. June 2013.
I know that you aren't a huge birthday person. I think birthdays should be celebrated as your very own special day to do and eat whatever you want. It's your day!!! And should be all about you. You, not so much. Over the past years you have humored me and let me throw you big parties like the Back to the 80s Bash, the Black and White Masquerade, the Luau, and the first (of now many) elaborate poker nights. I know you prefer a lazy weekend to party prep so I appreciate that you let me celebrate you!

Clockwise (1 and 2) Black and White Masqurade.
(3) Poker Birthday
(4) The Luau
(5) Back to the 80s Bash
(6) A few of the guys at the luau
Well, this year I think a new reality is setting in. No big bash this time. No dealing with all the attention. This year, we start new birthday traditions as parents - dinner at home, homemade cake, and a few friends getting together (but no actual party) over the weekend. This year we have 15 month old twins. And I'm pregnant. And a few things fell through the cracks. Like party planning. So I apologize. Please know this oversight is not a reflection of my love for you or the value and importance I put on this milestone birthday.
Family photo. July 2011.
So on this very big day, I want to tell you how very loved you are. You have enhanced my life. You brighten my spirit. You have helped me flourish. I am better for knowing you, for loving you and for being loved by you. I hope you can say the same.
You are my rock. My comfort. My home.
I love you. And today I'm celebrating you -- even without all the hoopla!

Apr 22, 2014

No Milk Mama: Talking Soy

Many folks with a milk protein intolerance are also unable to tolerate soy. In fact, a common shorthand for milk protein intolerance is MPSI where the S stands for soy.
In the beginning, Davy couldn't handle soy and I had to eliminate it. This meant no easy dairy substitution to soy milk and soy cheese. No easy solution of eating off vegan menus (which are heavy in soy). No Wheat Thins or many other processed foods which contain soybean oil or soy lecithin. Any "cheating" and he had a full blown GI reaction.
While I was still nursing, I was instructed to add baked in soy back into my diet and see how Davy did. And he was fine! Hallelujah! So we kept experimenting. He still reacted to large amounts of soy like soy sauce or edamame or soy cheese but at least I could eat crackers again.
Once he started solids, we allowed him to have crackers with soy lecithin in them and he was fine. He also does okay with soybean oil. This means he can eat Graham Crackers, puffs (select brands are dairy free - we like Happy Family), animal crackers, etc. We then tried letting him self ingest edamame (soy beans) and it didn't go well. Edamame is considered an easier soy to process since it is pure soy so it is a good first try. But even that was too much for my poor little guy. His first exposure to soy sauce was also a bad experience.
This was an accidental exposure. We were at the mall and the boys had already finished the HUGE lunch I had packed for them so I gave them each a few carrots out of my Hibachi. And Davy turned bright red. Hives all over his chin and face. Luckily, I carry Benadryl!
We stay away from "raw" soy but do allow soy as an added ingredient (like a small amount of soybean oil or soy lecithin). He does occasionally gets a few red marks around his mouth after eating a large amount of soy, but it doesn't move beyond those very few hives. As long as it is small number, we don't even offer Benadryl for this as it doesn't seem to bother Davy at all. This is a huge relief because SOY IS IN EVERYTHING.
We are highly highly fortunate that Davy outgrew the more severe reaction to soy. And are hopeful this means he will someday stop reacting to soy at all!
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