Updated February 2017

Sippy Cup 101

In a perfect world, babies would transition from a bottle to a cup overnight. In the real world, they don’t have nearly enough coordination to do this.

Also? Spills.

We all hate spills, especially if you have carpeting and upholstery. To all the dentists who suggest we switch to regular cups at the age of 18 months, I invite them to come over to my house to clean up after my kids have spilled milk all. over. the. place.

Repeatedly.

spilled milk

I just…. can’t.

So.

If your infant is ready to start drinking water, breast milk or formula out of something other than a bottle, trainer cups are the perfect place to start. Some parents skip directly to a “strawed” sippy cup or one of the newer 360 or “rimless” cups. [Skip to full article]

Looking ahead, most older toddlers end up using regular “spouted” sippy cups, which hold more liquid and allow your bigger kid to drink a little faster. These can also be packed into lunches without spilling.

If you can transition to a regular cup sooner rather than later (translation: if you can cope with spillage better than I can), more power to ya. Truth is, most parents use some form of sippy cup through preschool.

Sippy Cup Challenge

The aftermath of our sippy cup testing party

Another tip — please do not expect your baby to pick up a cup and start drinking exclusively from it from Day One — it might take months.

Per Dr. Alan Greene, my go-to feeding guy:

“At mealtime, put some water in the cup and show your baby how to maneuver it to her mouth. A midday meal is [again] usually best. The cup will be little more than a toy for several weeks, but eventually most kids will drink down the water you put in. When they do this, it’s time to put something else in the cup or to begin giving it at other meals. It often takes about 6 months before all drinking is done with a cup – and the bedtime feeding is usually the last to switch. A good goal is that when (if) whole milk is introduced at one year, it is in a cup not a bottle.

It’s wonderful for babies to have security objects, but if a bottle becomes the security object, it can make weaning tough. Avoid this by not letting babies carry a bottle around with them. Only use them at mealtimes when they are sitting down or being held. If they are thirsty at other times, hand them a cup.”

When evaluating sippy cups, remember that no cup is completely bullet-proof under all conditions, so it’s a really good idea to keep sippy cups out of your laptop bag or purse-with-phone or near other precious electronics. Even the best sippy cup can be mis-threaded when you’re in a hurry, which always ends in leakage.

Also note that all the cups mentioned below are BPA-free plastic. We also have at least one stainless or glass cup in each category. See here for a more complete list of eco-food and beverage storage containers.

Best Trainer Cups

“Trainer” sippy cups are perfect for ages 4-9 months.  The two handles make it very easy to grip and the soft valve is reminiscent of a bottle nipple. These cups have to be tipped back, just like a bottle.

Trainer Sippy Cup

1. Nuby – No-Spill Super Spout ~ $7 for 2

Nuby is one of my favorite sippy cup companies. Many of their sippy cup parts are interchangeable — and they are all quite easy to clean.

This cup will hold up after being used as a flying missile, will not spill when dropped or shaken, and is affordable.
Nuby Sippy Cup


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