Product Review by Stephen Weiss, MS, RD, CLC
Department of Public Health, WIC/USDA
As an educational tool, in addition to any health advantages for transitioning infants & toddlers to drinking from a cup, your Reflo cup has significant advantages.
I mention the above because I believe it is a needed alternative to the popular "sippy cup" which is used more for the convenience of the caretaker than to encourage physical coordination and emotional development of the child."
- Going from breast or bottle to a real cup will make the child feel more grown up and is consistent with the end goal of transitioning.
- Parents will treat their children in a more age appropriate manner by not viewing the Relfo cup as a modified bottle.
- Mothers don't need to compare one "sippy cup" to another and thereby waste time & money in order to find what is right for their child.
- Parents will be less likely to let the toddler walk around unsupervised with a reflo cup.
Stephen Weiss, MS, RD, CLC
Guam WIC Program
Department of Public Health
15-6100 Mariner Avenue
Barrigada, Guam 96913-1601
Product Review by Suzanne M. Ducharme, MS CCC-SLP
Owner, SS Speech Pathology Partners, LLC in Weymouth MA
REFLO cups: The SMART Alternative to Sippy Cups
If you are a Speech Language Pathologist working with children, you have probably had numerous conversations with parents about sippy cups, and the pros and cons of their use with children who have feeding and/or speech delays. Once used as a brief intermediate step between bottles and open cups, sippy cups are now a huge industry, and there are 4 and 5-year-old children who have never even used an open cup. Finding the right tool to teach kids open cup drinking can be a challenge… but now there is a new cup on the market that answers this challenge- REFLO. Although it was not designed specifically for SLPs, it does provide a sound alternative to traditional sippy cups. In trying this cup with a variety of children in my private practice, I have seen nice progress with skill development, and received positive feedback from the parents about the ease of use and its functionality.
What is the REFLO cup? The REFLO cup is a translucent tumbler with an easy to use insert that helps control the flow of fluid, while supporting the development of typical oral motor skills for drinking from an open cup. To use the cup, you simply fill the tumbler with liquid, place the insert into the cup and drink.
Why Use the REFLO cup? From a clinical perspective, our goal is to encourage typical oral motor skills for cup drinking, such as lip closure and the coordination of fine and oral motor skills for managing the flow of liquid. The REFLO cup is a regular cup, a plain plastic tumbler that looks like a cup that a typical child would use. When the insert is in place, the child simply brings the cup to his lips and drinks. The design of the insert allows the child to drink no matter how it is oriented, because the flow control feature is repeated all around the insert, not just in one position, like in some other flow control cups. This feature also allows for faster independence with the cup, since there is less need for orientation and placement assistance. (NOTE: This cup would also be useful in working with adults who need some flow control but are able to hold a cup.)
In addition, the design of the insert really does slow down the flow of the liquid, allowing children more time to manage the fluid in their mouth, resulting in more successful swallowing and less spillage. In my experience, children with difficulties in learning to drink are hesitant to use a cup that makes them feel overwhelmed with fluid, or the valving is so strong they don’t easily make the connection that it is for drinking- it becomes a shaky toy. REFLO solves this problem.
Other positive aspects of the REFLO cup:
- Translucent tumbler, allowing you to see how much liquid is flowing in supported cup drinking.
- BPA free and dishwasher safe; it is possible to thoroughly clean the insert as well, meaning that germs cannot build up or become trapped in the pieces.
- Simple to use, and
- The look of the cup is plain and it does not look “therapeutic”.
Limitations of REFLO:
- Although this cup is not spill proof, it provides a reasonable level of spill protection.
- The inserts can only be used on REFLO cups, and
- Some children may not be able to hold the cup on their own; a version with handles would be helpful; a smaller version for younger children would be useful as well.
- The REFLO cup cannot be used with pulpy liquids, but can handle thin and slightly thickened liquids with ease.
Overall, I have found the REFLO cup to be a useful addition to my clinical toolbox, and I will continue to use it and educate parents about it. At a price point of $6.99 per cup, it is on par with both commercially available and “therapeutic” cups; there is also a separate pricing scale for retailers and institutional use.