March 26, 2012

Fun Little Things: Sippy Cup Love

Sure I don't drink out of sippy cups, but I'm kind of obsessed with them. Maybe it's because Little Smith never really used any bottles and I am always a fan of product design and gadgets. Whatever the reason I think watching my little guy hoist his cup up and chug water or milk is just about the cutest thing ever. I have read some research that suggests it's best not using any cups with valves, but for us that has proven very messy and I'm not terribly concerned about my kid figuring out how to use a regular cup down the road.  

I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm for sippies, but I figure we can all appreciate a good design solution to a tricky problem. Our family has certainly tried out more cups than I'd like to admit, so for those of you in the market I thought I would share a few of our favorites. Without further adieu, I present our best-of-sippy-cup roundup.

Little Smith was slow to take to a cup, again I think it could be related to his lack of exposure to a bottle. He didn't really figure it out until about ten months old and the first cup he was able to use was a small one by Nuby with a handle.

It's a very simple design with a one piece valve/ top. It does leak a bit but I think that is actually what made it so easy to drink from when Little S was learning. It's very light and easy for little hands to lift, but the rubber handle does get dirty constantly and, as with all plastic, it scratches over time. Another downside is that it tends to get "sucked in" at the lid once Little S does some drinking. It doesn't seem to bother him but I am a bit compulsive and it does bug me... just a little!

The few times Little S did use a bottle it was one made by BornFree. When we introduced milk (cow, goat, soy, rice, almond... we like all of our milks here!), we decided to stick with this same brand of cup for consistency. It's nice that it leaks very little, I don't mind water leaking on the car seat but spilt milk is less desirable. This cup is much more like a bottle and it does have a number of parts. There's a two piece valve (same as the one used in the bottles), two piece lid, and a handle. It is cumbersome to clean but I think that is also what makes it so leak resistant. This plastic also seems to scratch less than the Nuby version.

Before Little S was anywhere near ready for it, the very first sippy cup I purchased (in no small part for aesthetic reasons) was this stainless steel number made by Foogo. At first it was too heavy but over time this has become a definite favorite. It's a great size and the stainless steel base means there is less scratching than with plastic. I guess it also keeps his water cold but we serve it room temperature so we haven't really exploited those benefits. It's a moderately complicated design, a two piece valve, single piece top, and optional handle. Despite being advertised at "leak proof", I have found that this cup does leak a bit. It's also very easy to screw on the top slightly askew which has, on more than one occasion, lead to a drenched lap in the stroller or car seat. As long as you are very careful attaching that top, it's a great cup.

We've made a few different attempts with cups that have straws and in general, it just doesn't work for us. Little S is great with a straw when he's "borrowing" some of my smoothie but he seems to get into trouble when he's given a straw of his very own. Some versions have no valves, again that makes for a big mess since he still likes to turn his cups upside down. This version, also made by Nuby, does have a valve so you have to bite down on the straw to make it work. There was a bit of a learning curve but Little S did figure it out. Unfortunately the valve also allows a small amount of liquid to pool in the top of the straw. Little S discovered that he could "flick" that liquid providing endless entertainment and splattering. We've pretty much stopped using this cup since he seemed to see it more as a toy, but we do have several friends who love it so I'm including it anyway for you straw fans. The great part about the design is that the straw flips into the cap so that if you are at a playgroup, where all kids seem to want every cup except their own, they can't easily sneak a sip off a friend's cup. It also probably stays cleaner in the diaper bag and definitely leaks less. I find pulling out the two piece straw difficult for cleaning and I also find the plastic of this cup to scratch more than any of the others featured here. Personally, I don't think it's the most attractive cup (I know- am I really this shallow?) so I didn't mind pulling it from our rotation.

Our most recent addition is this glass and rubber model by Lifefactory. I have several of their water bottles for myself and considered using their baby bottles but found the "nipple" was too narrow to please my breast feeder. When they recently added the sippy option I knew I wanted to give it a try and sure enough, it's a keeper. It's a fairly simple design with a hard mouth piece (this is a more mature step for Little S who has really only tried flexible spouts) and an inner rubber valve that can be removed once he's ready for a faster flow. The rubber coated glass is very durable and won't break, and it also doesn't scratch which I love. It is very heavy which can be somewhat awkward and dramatic when Little S hurls his cup off the table to let us know he's done (a habit I would LOVE to break... suggestions?). It's also more of a bottle shape than a proper cup shape but since I myself drink out of the identical bottle, I think that's okay. Actually for us that's another plus, you can buy a bunch of the water bottles for yourself and just purchase a sippy lid. You could even share without feeling like you're actually drinking from a kid's cup. This is Little Smith's current favorite but it might be due to the fact that it's new and it matches the adult versions, always a draw!

We've edited our sippy stash down to three favorites; BornFree for milk(s), and Foogo and Lifefactory for water (we don't give him juice or other beverages right now). They each have benefits and drawbacks, but all three are easy to use (although I'd wait until over a year for the heavy Lifefactory), durable, and meet my personal standards for cool looking gadgets. I mean... that has to count for a little something!

And as always, here they all are in action. Each cup has definitely been tested thoroughly with some very heavy use.

Hopefully you are now feeling a little of that sippy love! Let me know if you have your own favorites or if there is a good "transition" cup once we decide to go valve-free. Happy sipping.

*I have no relationship with any of these companies, just a cup enthusiast!


  1. Great roundup! I really liked the Kleen Kanteen sippy cup with the hard spout for our toddler. It is lightweight and teaches them how to hold a real cup. Our little guy was a biter so by the time he had a full mouth of teeth, the silicone and rubber tops were out. He'd chew straight through them (very dangerous!).

    1. Thanks so much, I've seen those Kleen Kanteens and they look great. That will probably be our next step. Our guy is late with teeth but wow- he bites through the spout?! That's crazy.

  2. Very cool, thanks for the tips!

  3. Isn't it funny the collection of sippy cups you can acquire without even trying? We went through that with bottles too. For us, since we had two cups going at once, we liked the models with the least amount of parts. We ended up just going with the cheapy playtex sippies that only have a lid and valve. And they didn't leak either which is a big plus!

    I really like the aesthetic design of all of your featured sippy cups - can't believe we never tried any of them! :)


  4. Great product review, thank you! I have always wondered about the life factory cups. I think they are so cute! We use Born Free, and it seems to please my two-year-old. None of my babies took bottles, so I'm expecting to transition from breast to sippy cup with Emil. Thanks again!

  5. This is actually very helpful right now for our family so thank you for posting! I almost bought the FOOGO sippy, but hadn't heard anything about it and didn't want buyers remorse. Great and comprehensive reviews (exactly when I needed them)! Thanks!

  6. We loved born free for bottles, but get the most use from gerber sippies. They have different stages, and they seem to work well for us. And we have tried them ALL. Except your cool lifefactory brand! I like that one! Great post :)

  7. Thanks for posting this!! I'll have to bookmark it for later. :) Audrey is bottle fed, and already tries to hold it herself... I'm hoping this means she'll be a champ with a sippy cup!