A few weeks ago I posted an article about the benefits of open cup drinking and how the way in which you give your child liquids can affect their eating. I found it so interesting chatting to BabyCup founder Sara Keel when I researched that piece, that I asked her whether she'd let me interview her. Sara kindly agreed.
My interview with Sara Keel
Sara is the kind of woman I would like to go and have a coffee with. She's funny, articulate and passionate about what she does. When I asked her if I could chat to her about the genesis of her innovative weaning product, the Babycup, I had no idea that she would be so knowledgeable about infant feeding issues. This is a lady who knows her stuff.
Sara, now an experienced mum of three, set about weaning her first-born in the way most of us do: with good intentions and not a lot of knowledge. Although she talks about having a naturally inquiring mind and normally questioning everything, Sara described how this process just didn't come into play with weaning. It was as though her lack of confidence shut down the process of interrogation and she just followed the crowd.
I can really relate to this and I think it's a fascinating idea; as first time parents, a lack of knowledge and experience can being very dis-empowering and can lead us to decisions that are fundamentally out of character. The urge to do right by our babies is so strong that we are perhaps more likely to just do what the people around us tell us to, rather than making our own decisions.
By the time she was weaning her second child, Sara was more in control and more confident about acting on her intuition. When it came to giving her little one milk and water, she had a hunch that sippy cups were maybe not the best or only way and she began to research the subject.
Sara was well placed to do this as her husband is a cranial chiropractor so knows a lot about facial development and growth. From talking to her husband, dentists and orthodontists as well as reading extensively, Sara came to some surprising conclusions:
- Children need "the suck of a vacuum cleaner" to drink from non-spill cups. This uses completely different muscles from drinking from an open cup and may actually affect facial development.
- The repeated use of this incorrect muscle group doesn't stimulate correct bone growth, which can lead to crooked teeth and under-developed jaws, requiring orthodontic treatment later.
- Commonly and innocently unnoticed by many parents, there is a warning disclaimer inside the packaging of spouted cups, advising that prolonged use causes tooth decay. This is even the case for lidded cups promoted as being ‘like an open cup’. Even ‘free-flow’ spouted cups are obliged to carry tooth decay warnings.
- Children hang on to drinks in sippy cups far longer than open cups - this is partly because parents are happy for them to wander around with a non-spill cup whereas doing the same with an open cup would lead to accidents. This means that drinking habits are totally different in children who use open cups and children who use sippy cups.
Sara told me so many more fascinating things about how children drink and we also chatted about the use of puree pouches, a topic I've been interested in for a while and something that will certainly be the subject of a blog post sometime soon!
What was really amazing though, was that rather than just sit around and bemoan the fact that the ubiquitous sippy cup was not necessarily the best option for babies and toddlers, having established that there were no open cups on the market that met her needs, she went out and designed one. After a bit of experimentation with shot glasses (too fragile) and egg cups (wrong shape) the BabyCup was born.
This was no mean feat as she had to ensure not only that it worked and appealed to little children, but that it was safe, complying with the relevant safety standards and made of non-toxic materials.
Next, Sara had to get her open cups out into the world and, like any great product, now they're out there, they're doing really well. You can get yours from Argos, JoJoMamanBebe or direct from BabyCup.
To find out more about these amazing little beakers, follow Sara on Twitter @BabycupHello and like her Facebook page.
Oh, and just to reiterate what I have explained before in relation to BabyCup -this is not a sponsored post! I have no financial connection with BabyCup and only endorse products that I genuinely believe in.