Written By: Nadereh Nabai
About drinking from straws…
As Summer approaches, we’ll soon have to drudge through heat and humidity needing at least 1/3 of our body weight in ounces of water per day to keep our bodies hydrated and functioning. That means if you weigh 130 pounds you should be drinking close to 43 ounces of water every day, and a child weighing 30 pounds needs 11 ounces of water to keep a regulated body. In my last Blog, I talked about drawbacks of providing young children Sippy cups and others like it and the benefits of using open cups, spouted cups and cups with straws. Most adults and children I see, drink out of straws by placing them in the corner of their mouth to draw in the liquid, bite on the spout of the sports cup and squeeze the drink into their mouths or gulp down their drink out of an open cup, missing opportunities to gain more lips, facial and tongue root tone. Since I’m an advocate of multifinality, I suggest a more beneficial way to drink out of your favorite vessel. Place the outer part of the rim of your cup, the end of the straw or the sports bottle spout directly on your lower lip and mindfully contract the circular muscle (obicularis oris) that surrounds your mouth to achieve a seal to drink. Take a small sip of your drink, remove the tip, close your lips to swallow the liquid and repeat until the drink is done. In doing so, the facial muscle fibers that are attached to the obicularis oris muscle will contract to help in the process of labial seal and drinking. The more you isolate and move these muscles, the more toned your chin, cheeks and lips will become over time.
When children drink this way, they are toning the same muscles that are responsible for producing intelligible English consonant sounds when talking. Specifically, due to interconnectivity of the face, lips and tongue muscles the act of drawing in liquid through protruded lips will pull their tongue back toward their throat to create an oral vacuum forcing the liquid up the straw and into their mouth. This posterior tongue movement is necessary for the production of many English consonants directly (k, n, ng) and indirectly (t, d, l, n).
Stay tuned for my thoughts on what and how children eat, and how this will affect his/her speech intelligibility when he/she gets older.
I’d like to take a moment and share that even though I agree with using a straw to tone the muscles of the face and lips, I also care deeply about the state of our oceans and would like to ask you to use paper and reusable straws that are now sold everywhere.
For extra benefit use echo friendly straws to drink your thick smoothies and shakes.