Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Finding a Safe Sippy Cup for Babies and Toddlers {Review of 8 Options}

June 14th, 2012 · 16 Comments · Kids in the Kitchen, What to Buy

Sippy cups may as well be an entire course in Mommy School, particularly for those going for the “Health and Nutrition” certification on their SuperMom degree.

ecovessel sippy cup (2) (475x356)

A new mom has to to figure out:

  • What sippy a child can actually drink from
  • Which ones won’t leak all over, especially in the diaper bag in transit (and when baby shakes it upside down in the carseat)
  • How to clean all those blasted little parts to avoid “sippy cup funk” (a key vocabulary word from the sippy cup course at Mommy School)
  • Whether the materials used are safe and non-leaching
  • How long they’ll last – durability
  • How versatile the sippy cup will be – can it grow with the child?
  • When to start using a sippy
  • How to find good deals
  • What to put in the sippy cup

I’ve personally evolved over three kids from prioritizing cost and shopping garage sales to focusing on safety (and convenience). We have gotten rid of a ton of old sippy cups made of plastic, which were our mainstays before I knew what BPA was and how dangerous it could be. Many made of number 5 plastic, which does not contain BPA, still hit the “give away” pile because I would rather not risk finding out that no. 5 plastic contains some currently unknown chemical that leaches, since I have discovered many safer options. (Here’s a good article on what all the plastic numbers mean.)

Beyond safety, it takes a lot for a sippy to pass muster at the Kimball house.

This post is sponsored by Mighty Nest, where you can find most of the cups (but not all) reviewed here.

Don’t forget to get into the amazing on-the-go feeding baby giveaway, valued over $65, through Sunday 6/17 at midnight!

Must-Have Qualities in a Good Infant Sippy Cup

After watching three kids learn to drink from a cup (well, two-and-a-half; we’re still working on no. 3), I feel like I have a decent handle on what a good sippy cup looks like:

  • Soft spout: Babies love to chew on hard things, but to get the sucking reflex initiated, I really believe that infants 6 mos.-1 year should have a soft sippy cup spout.
  • Two handles: Baby can easily hold onto cups with two loopy handles on the side, building independence
  • Non-spill: As soon as they can, your baby will either (a) turn the sippy cup over and begin to shake it (how do they know?) or (b) throw it mercilessly over the edge of the highchair. Reduce your stress and get one that won’t make as much of a mess.
  • Safe materials: Especially in the early days, the goal of a sippy cup is mostly exploration, not hydration. I want a non-leaching material so I don’t have to think twice about grabbing a sippy with water in it from a previous meal.
  • Straw: I think a straw cup is the very best for early learning for two reasons:
    • Baby doesn’t have to tip the cup to drink. You will be released from “feeding” responsibilities much sooner if baby can drink independently, and learning to tip the cup is a skill that takes months to master. A 6-month-old can drink from a straw without help and without much practice.
    • Straws are actually life skills that your baby will still need as an adult,  unlike sippy cup sucking. Harness the sucking reflex and teach your baby to drink from a straw before that disappears.
Examples of Safe Sippys

When my oldest was an infant seven years ago (*sniff* he’s getting so old!!!), my favorite sippy looked like this:

IMG_1460 (475x356)

He’s under 8 mos. old and drinking completely by himself. However, even my untrained non-green Mommy brain could sometimes smell plastic when the water had been sitting in the cup for a day. (‘Cause we all know that the kid will pick up the cup and drink it if it’s sitting on the coffee table, whether you’d rather him have fresh water or not!)

Foogo Straw Bottle

When Leah was born, I was getting smarter, and my mom got her this BPA-free Thermos Foogo Straw Bottle for Christmas. Poor second child, I don’t have nearly as many photos of her eating and drinking. Eh. What can you do?

The photo above from Mighty Nest is the newer version, but I’m sure it can only have improved! I love the straw part, and it’s very easy to take apart to clean. (“Easy” being relative, of course, comparing to other sippys – NONE of which are easy to clean. This one just  isn’t that bad.)

It fits in most (but not all) cup holders and stands up well without falling over (although it can fall). The button there pops the top open, which is a wonderfully fascinating distraction for the slightly older child whose fingers are strong enough to push it. It does NOT leak in the diaper bag, a huge plus. I have misplaced it in the move, sadly, so Jonathan still doesn’t know how to use a straw himself. I can’t remember if it leaks when turned upside down and banged heartily on the high chair tray, but overall, the Foogo is a great stainless steel straw option.

Pura Sippy CupsAnother good stainless steel SOFT spout option, which I do think is important for babies under the age of one, is the Pura Stainless Steel Sippy Cup/Bottle. I haven’t reviewed this one myself, but Jonathan is currently guzzling happily from a glass Evenflow bottle with a regular nipple, and I’m quite sure he’d love this one, too.

Eco Vessel Sippy CupWe have been testing out the EcoVessel Insulated Sippy from Mighty Nest, but John is having a hard time figuring out how to suck on the hard spout. I really need to take out the non-spill portion to show him how the liquid comes out, and then I think he’ll get the hang of it. For now, I’ve been too lazy! I also should search harder for our old soft spout Avent sippy lid, because they’re compatible (one of the things I love about this product).

Here are the Positives:

  • Compatible with any Avent spout – handy for interchanging, and Avent is easy to find
  • Non-spill is pretty leakproof (although banging heartily will still get some satisfying droplets of water to come out)
  • Non-spill can be removed – this is what we do for older kids, so they have a sippy that’s easier to suck on.
  • Two handles! Great for babies
  • Fairly easy to take apart and clean
  • Insulated is super cool, although I think I’ll appreciate this more next summer when John might want a cold drink.
  • Stainless can’t be understated – I love the safety and unbreakableness of stainless, and it’s not as heavy as glass in a diaper bag.
  • Lid to cover the sippy spout – most of my old plastic sippys didn’t have this feature. Yuck.

And the Negatives:

  • Child still must tip to drink – that’s a tough skill.
  • You have to turn the sippy spout just right to line up with the handles, which can be a hassle.  Stainless Steel Sippy CupThe other cup we got for Christmas when Leah was an infant is the BPA free Kid Basix Safe Sippy 2. She still uses this guy, without the non-spill valve, as her “in the living room” cup.

What I love:

  • Two handles for little ones! The handles come right off for older kids, too, so that’s nicely versatile.
  • Stainless is lightweight and convenient.
  • Easy to fill, easy to take apart and wash.
  • Fits nearly all cup holders in strollers and such.
  • There are two new features on the version pictured above that I didn’t get to experience but think are fantastic:
    • cover to keep the spout clean
    • a straw adapter! This would be my favorite infant sippy for sure if I had that feature. It fits EVERY criteria.

What I don’t love:

  • The silicone around the bottom is cute and makes gripping easier, but it gets kind of grody under there after a while. We’ve taken ours off and left it off, since it’s not super easy to get back on.
  • Hard spout – although the straw adapter nixes this problem. Yay!
  • The non-spill valve, although nicely easy to clean, definitely lets quite a bit of water out if the child learns to shake it upside down in a car seat, for example. (I wonder how the straw adapter keeps the liquid in!)

BPA Free Plastic Baby Bottles

I’ve not yet tried the Innobaby Nursin’ Smart Silicone Straw Cup, but much like the Safe Sippy above, it fits pretty much all my criteria for the perfect starter sippy. There are questions about the safety of silicone, but not nearly as many as there are about plastics.

I love the way this one closes up with that half moon that swings around and clicks – it’s probably leakproof in the diaper bag, as it’s just like the design of my old favorite plastic sippy top, pictured above. You will likely find that sometimes, pressure builds up inside, and when you pop the straw up, it will spew out the contents for a few seconds. Be ready to sip! Winking smile

Note: Sippy straws are notoriously hard to clean. I only allow water in them, never water kefir or milk, yikes. They just get too stinky in my opinion. I’ve never owned a Sippy Straw Cleaner, though, so that might have changed everything.

Klean Kanteen Kid Kanteen Sippy

We’ve had this Klean Kanteen Kid Kanteen Sippy since Paul was a toddler, and he felt SO cool having a bottle just like Mom and Dad. This product, like the EcoVessel above, also uses the Avent spouts, which is just handy.

I see they’ve added a cover since my version, and I love that. The Klean Kanteen is super easy to wash, and the sippy adapter can actually go on any size bottle (which looks pretty funny when we’re swapping lids around and this one happens to end up on a big old 28-oz. size!). It’s lightweight compared to the EcoVessel and slightly shorter, so it’s very handy for on the go, especially with a slightly older toddler who might not want a “sippy cup” anymore. If upside down in a diaper bag, however, this baby will definitely make

When to Start Using a Sippy

I’ve started my kids with cups anytime between 5 months (as a fun, distracting toy while sitting in the high chair while the family eats dinner) to closer to 10 months with poor Jonathan, simply because I couldn’t find our good ones!

I would give a child a sippy cup at 5-6 months, just for practice, and get serious about teaching them how to suck and drink from it between 10-12 months. They should be getting any liquids their body actually needs from breastfeeding (or a bottle) before age one anyway.

What to Put IN the Sippy

Before a year, it’s water, water, and only water. After noticing not only that plastic smell, but also the chlorinated water smell hanging around in the sippys of old, I’m just thrilled to have Berkey water for our third child. He’s got life so much better (less toxic, at least) than the older siblings! Then again, he’s also more likely to get a Lego in his mouth than a first child, so it all evens out in the end, I suppose. Winking smile

After age one, water is still the mainstay, but milk should usually make an appearance in sippys unless there’s a dairy allergy or sensitivity. I sort of dread that time, just because sippy cups are notoriously so hard to wash. I do tend to take out the non-spill valve as soon as I can with milk because it’s one less thing to wash. (You know me and my love of dishes, right?)

Some have mentioned that their sippy cups get a “funk” pretty quickly, and I do remember doing a lot of spraying the valves with vinegar water and hydrogen peroxide water (two of my under-the-sink-cleaners), both of which can help a lot. We also put the sippy parts in a basket in our dishwasher, and again, we try to stay away from putting stinky things in them.

I have a feeling the insulated EcoVessel sippy will be my favorite for milk in a few months, because I’ll feel better about leaving our raw milk in there for a few hours if necessary, or even the half hour or more it takes our family to eat a meal.

Toddler Transition Cups

EIO glass kids cup (1) (475x356)

The ultimate goal of a sippy cup is to transition the child to drinking from a normal cup like an adult. For some, this doesn’t happen until kindergarten or older, just because sippys are so convenient, especially when you’re on the run. However, I personally feel it’s very important to teach life skills, like drinking from a real cup, as early as possible. Some of the ways we transition our kids include:blue car stainless steel bottle

  1. Taking the non-spill valve out of the Klean Kanteen and Safe Sippy, as well as any other Avent lids
  2. Using the small sized Klean Kanteen with a sport top – you can still close it up for travel, but it’s something that an adult would actually use.
  3. Ecousable stainless steel bottle, at right

This cute bottle is a product sample from a few years ago, and I’m having trouble finding the small size now. (Here is a medium sized one on Amazon.) If you see this brand, it’s a really good one (with the sport top). High quality, attractive, and a slightly smaller sport bottle top for smaller mouths. Leah loves hers (it’s pink with butterflies).

Glass Sippy Cup

The EIO Glass Kids Cup is a new product for us, sent by Mighty Nest. It’s a standard glass jelly jar with a silicone wrapper for (much) easier gripping and to prevent breakage, plus a twist-on lid that has a small opening for drinking on top, much like an adult’s travel coffee mug might be. It is NOT non-spill or really travel-worthy, but it’s intended to bridge the gap from sippy to glass cup, in style.

We love it so far – easy to clean, although the silicone wrap will probably have the same problem as the Safe Sippy, above. I’ve taken it on and off, so it’s very possible to clean underneath, but not all that fun.

The ultimate test of any sippy cup, for me, is the smoothie: can smoothie come through the opening such that my child can take a smoothie out of the kitchen and still be able to drink it? For any non-spill cup, the answer is no. For the EIO? No problem:

EIO glass kids cup (5) (475x356)

EIO glass kids cup (4) (475x356)

Stainless Tumbler Cup

I haven’t really gotten to use my stainless steel tumbler (my review sample happens to be from Life Without Plastic) yet, but in about 6 months, it will be vital to getting John ready for our glass cups, the only kind of open-top kids’ cups we have around here. He’s kind of a bruiser, so I foresee him being a cup thrower. I’m going to need the unbreakable quality of stainless steel, and I’m so glad it’s also dishwasher safe.

The edges are smooth, not sharp, and it’s just the right size for little hands. I’ve been glad to have this cup in the cupboard a few times when we had 18 mo-2yo visitors, however, so I had something to offer them that didn’t give their parents a heart attack like a glass cup might.

My goal with any dishes is to get them into glass as soon as possible, as I have an affinity for the Montessori style of learning, which has kids using real things as much and as soon as possible. I believe in teaching children to take care of their possessions and treat things appropriately, and although we clean up more broken dishes than most families…it’s usually the dad or the mom who does the dropping. *sheepish grin, hangs head in shame*

It’s an added bonus that glass is a super safe material and comes out of the dishwasher both dry and clean, unlike little plastic cups.

It won’t be long at all before I’ll be needing to hit up some more garage sales to collect more inexpensive glassware like these good finds from a few years ago:

garage sale glass dishes (5)

Heh…I should check the cupboards to see how many of these we adults have broken since this photo. Winking smile The little kids’ cups are so thick-walled, they never break!

What are you favorite baby drinking products or tips?

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Mighty Nest, who sent me two cups to test out. I already had 3 or 4 of what they offered, so I think their shop is a perfect fit for the KS community and am thrilled to be working with them, but I don’t receive any revenue of any kind if you shop there (you just benefit because it’s a great online store). My opinion is solely my own and cannot be bought. LPC Survival is a KS sponsor and the Berkey mention is part of that. I am an affiliate of Amazon and will receive commission if you start here to shop there.

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16 Comments so far ↓

  • Amy

    Have you ever used or reviewed the nalgene sippy cups? They are BPA free and we’ve used them and loved them. I’m just curious to hear what you guys think…..

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Amy,
    I think a good friend has that brand, but I’ve never used them – Katie

    Kathleen Reply:

    We love our Nalgene water bottles! :-) My 6yo and almost-3yo use them daily.

  • Brooke

    I have the Kid Basix Safe Silly with the straw adapter. Though it is not totally leakproof, I like this cup better than any others we have tried. The straw adapter does not prevent spills. Water just pours right out. I do not recommend getting this with the idea that you can switch from silly to straw when the child is ready for a change. I tried this with my daughter, and she doesn’t get it. It makes her mad because she is used to tipping it up. She is 22 months now, though. Maybe she will understand when she is a little older?

  • shira

    I know sippy cups are very commonly used… but I found my children learned to drink from cups at a pretty young age. I gave them a metal cup at 6 months with a tiny bit of water in the bottom . They would play with it, spill it, try to drink it. Once in a while I would hold it for them so they’d see how it works. After a few months, they could drink from it and still spilled a lot while drinking, but after a few more months they were pros at it. When they still spilled, I just put a centimeter of liquid in it. And I didn’t have to clean out sippy cups! I have a kleen kanteen with the avent sippy, and a sportscap as well, and we always used that for ‘on the go.’ I might get a soft spout/nipple for it with this new baby, to harness that suck reflex like you suggested, rather than introducing the hard top when he’s old enough to suck. That was the only downside of their use of regular cups… they couldn’t figure out straws for a long time.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Shira,
    Ooo, maybe I should get that stainless cup in John’s hands sooner…I hate washing sippys! :) Katie

  • Melissa

    I use pipe cleaners to clean out the sippy cup straws, works really well, no yuck left in the straw.

  • Beth @ Turn 2 the Simple

    We have the Thermos Foogo sippies — one with the hard spout and one with the straw feature. My kids have not had a problem with learning to tip the sippy to drink from them, even at 6-8 months of age. My daughter (4 years) loves the straw cup and I like that it is a good size for her and like an adult straw-type water bottle. I like the hard spout sippy for my almost 2 year old son — he likes to “steal” his sister’s straw bottle but also really likes to chew on the straw — I’d be buying new tops like crazy if I let him use this one all the time. My favorite features: stainless steal, insulated, EASY TO CLEAN, interchangeable lids that can “grow” with the child — don’t need to buy a whole new cup, just new lids, can get replacement lids. inexpensive when compared to other stainless steal sippies.

  • Tiffany

    My kids, 2 and 5, both drink from glasses. We keep plastic cups around for various reasons but I mostly give them glass. Crate & Barrel has little glasses for 95 cents apiece that not only match our adult glasses (I’m type A and a sucker for aesthetics) but they are perfect sized for their little hands. And not one has been broken, they are pretty durable.

  • Stephanie M

    I gave my son a real plastic cup from very young, and switched him over to glass about 18 months. I think the stainless tumbler is a great option! When he was a baby, we used the Avent sippy when we were out because I liked the soft spout, but I never used the valve. Once he was a little bigger, we started used the Safe Sippy. I loved it, but it was hard to clean after it was left in the car for a couple days :S

  • Von R

    I too hate cleaning and waiting for sippy cups to dry completely, so we only use them in the car. Around the house my 2 and 4 YO’s use old glass baby food jars. It’s a trick I learned from my depression-era great-grandmother. It fits their hands perfectly and I don’t think THEY’VE ever broken one.

  • Megan

    Katie, thanks for this post. I’ve been reading your blog for years and when it came time to replace the kids stainless steel sippys w/ straws this post was a great help!

  • The 60 Minute Sippy Cup Search | Kinda Crunchy

    [...] This chick is eco-friendly, hates BPA, and is a Christian! Surely, she will recommend the sippy cup we [...]

  • jen

    hi, thanks for the article. Does the eco vessel leak if the child turns it upside down?
    Thanks

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jen,
    If you’ve ever used the Avent lids, there is some possibility of leaking. I wouldn’t let them be upside down in a bag for example, but unless the child shakes the cup (which happens of course) just flipping it upside down for a second or two isn’t going to cause problems. :) Katie

  • Barbara Lee

    I saw an elegant glass with a Stainless Steal lid and straw that had “we don’t always see the stars in the heavens, but we know they are there.”
    You are my best friend. I don’t always see you, but I know you are there.”
    If anyone knows the site…please send me it to me :-)

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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