Best Overall Sippy Cup
Pura Kiki Toddler
The Pura Kiki Toddler
won the coveted Editors' Choice Award. The cup not only scored the highest out of all the cups we tested, it also won favor for using safer/healthier materials than most of the competition; this helped it earn an impressive 9 of 10 for eco-health. This was a score only outdone by one other cup. The Pura scored a high 9 of 10 for leaking as well. This less than perfect score was still acceptable in our book, because the few drops that leaked were really just remnants of the last sip lingering in the silicone spout, not a real continuous leaking problem. This cup scored well in ease of use, because it was very easy to drink from with the super soft silicone spout, and easy to hold and carry thanks to its slim cup-holder loving design, and grippy silicone sleeve. Pura also did well in the ease of cleaning metric because it only had 3 parts (the sleeve is considered semi-permanent, and does not need to be removed for cleaning), and those parts were simple to clean by hand with a basic bottle brush. It really was difficult to find fault with this cup, and our tests were designed to do just that. Pura has recently made a few changes to their toddler cup. Read more in the full review to learn about the differences.
Read review: Pura Kiki Toddler
Best for a Budget
Munchkin Click Lock Insulated
$4.79 each (in 2-pack)
Our Best Buy Award went to the Munchkin Click Lock Insulated
. While not the favorite cup in our test, it offers solid performance at a reasonable price. The cup is lightweight for an insulated up, keep contents cooler than non-insulated cups, and has a slim body design perfect for cup holders. It ranked 7 out of 21, and was the highest ranking plastic insulated cup we tested. It is a cup we liked, and can serve as a good economical cup for parents on a budget.
Read review: Munchkin Click Lock Insulated
Top Pick for Insulated Cup
Thermos Foogo Phase 3 Insulated
The Thermos Foogo Phase 3
cup won points for being insulated, having a straw type spout(as preferred by the ADA), and for being made of food grade stainless steel. These attributes gave it the highest eco-health score out of all the cups we tested, a perfect 10 of 10! The ease of cleaning for this cup was below average, suffering somewhat from the extra pieces involved in the straw design and attached lid. It did do well for ease of use, with high scores for being easy to drink from, and the slightly contoured shape was easy to hold. We loved this cup for its easy transportability; it earned favor for being insulated, and for having an attached cap that helped keep the straw clean, and aided in preventing leaks.
Read review: Thermos Foogo Phase 3
Best for Specific Applications
While not all cups won awards, there were some standout cups we felt earned a mention for being very good for specific applications.
No-Leak Cup for Cup-like Drinking
The Sassy Grow Up Cup
is a really cool cup that has a fairly unique, ordinary cup-like edge, that allows toddlers to drink from 360 degrees. This was kind of cool because it meant toddlers just had to pick up the cup and drink, without having to adjust the cup to line up a spout with their mouth. In addition, the design helped little ones learn some similar skills as drinking from a regular cup. While this cup did have a leak-proof valve (an ingenious gasket like design), we can't help but think the ADA might like this cup for the decreased risk of injury (since there is no hard spout), the possible skill building of lifting and maneuvering and cup to the lips like an ordinary cup, a body shape that mimics a regular cup, and the potential for little ones to want a grown up cup so they can be more like mom and dad. So while the valve meant that toddlers still had to "suck" to get fluid, instead of normally sipping, we felt this cup was a nice compromise between the concerns of the ADA, and the needs of parents to have a leak-proof cup. The fact that the toddlers loved this "grown up" cup was just a bonus. This cup ranked 5th out of the 21 cups we tested. Not too shabby.
Read review: Sassy Grow Up Cup
The Lifefactory Glass
was another standout cup. This cup offered a healthy alternative to plastics, because it is made of glass. There were only two cups in our tests that were made of glass, which made this cup somewhat unique. The Lifefactory cup came with a silicone sleeve that helped prevent breaking, and added to the grip factor of this cup. We weren't big fans of the stiff spout given the chance for injuries, but we did like that this cup was fairly easy to clean, assemble, and was relatively leak-proof. If you are looking for a cup that is eco-health friendly, but you aren't too jazzed up about stainless steel, this might be the cup to try. Since glass can and does break, we do suggest that this cup only be used with supervision just in case an accident happens. This cool cup ranked 4th out of 21.
Read review: Lifefactory Glass
We also liked the poorly scoring EIO Glass Kids Cup
, and felt it deserved a special mention. This cup did not do well in our tests, but before you dismiss it out of hand, we really should confess that maybe it wasn't fair to include it in this review. This cup is not a standard no-leak cup, as it lacks any kind of leak-proof valve or mechanism to prevent spills, but we included it to put in on parent's radar as an alternative to leak-proof cups. This little glass cup, with silicone sleeve, has a lid similar to the lids you find on hot beverages. So most of the cup is covered, with a small opening on one
side for children to drink from. The cup is supposed to be a true training cup, and a bridge between bottles and actual cups. In order to use this cup, children must
use all the same skills that they would need for a ordinary cup. The same sipping mechanism we use to drink from a cup is required for the EIO, as opposed to the sucking action required by the other cups we tested. We think that the ADA had a cup much like this in mind when they suggested parents choose cups without leak-proof valves. The lid might not be truly leak-proof
, but it did aid in preventing accidental slip-ups from turning into giant spills. It still requires the same kind of assistance and help of an ordinary cup, but it comes with at least a small insurance policy of a leak-resistant lid. Think of it like this, would you rather hold a cup of coffee with no
lid between your legs? Or a cup of coffee with a spill resistant lid
on it? We think this is a pretty neat little cup, that deserves a second look for parents who want a training cup as opposed to a leak-proof, or those looking to help little ones learn the skills necessary to use a real cup. Heck, why not buy a leak-proof cup, and
the EIO, so you get the best of both worlds and your child can master drinking more quickly?
Read review: EIO Glass Kids Cup
Analysis and Test Results
If the plethora of available baby products for your baby hasn't already sent your head reeling, finding the right toddler cup just might be the straw (or silicone nozzle) that broke the parent's back. The toddler cup options are so varied and numerous, that the selection task might seem daunting and not worth the effort. Choosing cups randomly, to avoid the hassle of trying to figure out one cup from another, often leads to frustration and disappointment once you get the cup home. The cheapest, prettiest, or most well-known brand might be tempting, but they could end up being a mistake in the end.
Toddler leak-free cups are for ages 9 months to approximately 3 years old. This time period is when your child will most likely be moving from the use of a bottle to mastering the skills necessary to use an ordinary cup. During this time period spills can be an issue, so most parents choose to use a spill-resistant cup or leak-proof cup. These spill-proof inventions are known as sippy cups. But, as we discuss in this review, and cover in our article, How to Choose the Best Sippy Cup for a Toddler
, the world of leak-free cups is actually divided into stages for three different age groups.
Types of Sippy Cups
The first leak-proof cup was designed by a mechanical engineer named Richard Belanger. Belanger felt there had to be a better way to transition babies from bottles to cups that didn't
include so many messy spills. So he designed a cup with a leak-proof valve that allowed air to enter when baby drank, thereby creating pressure that prevented the cup from leaking when not in use. In the beginning, his family ran their business and created the cups themselves. Eventually though, Belanger sold his idea to Playtex, and the first commercially available no leak cup was "born" sometime in the early 90s.
While the leak-proof cup of the past might not be exactly like the cups we use today, it helped pave the way for the products that are currently available. Belanger himself probably never imagined the sheer number, or design varieties, that would evolve from his one simple valve design.
Setting the Leak-Free Stages
The photos above show the various stages of leak-free cups; they include the Transition cup for ages 4-9 months (left), Toddler cup for 9 months to 3 years (middle), and Kid Bottles for ages 3-6 years (right).
Leak-proof cups are categorized by age ranges that should theoretically be applicable to a child's developmental stages and capabilities. Following the suggested age range on each cup's packaging can help parents in locating the right stage cup for their little one.
Transition cups are designed for babies 4-12 months of age. They typically have a soft spout for sensitive gums, dual handles for easy grasping, and are smaller so baby can easily hold and maneuver the cup. Take a look at our review The Best Transition Sippy Cups
to see our ratings of the 14 most popular and highly rated transition cups.
Toddler cups are designed for children 12 months to 3 years old. Cups can feature soft spouts, hard spouts, or a straw mouthpieces. The cups usually have a contoured shape (most no longer have handles), and they hold larger volumes.
Kid bottles are designed for active children age 3 to 6 years. These vessels have even larger volume capabilities, and many are insulated for longer days away from home participating in various activities.
Leak-Proof Cups of All Stages
Leak-proof cups are not required for teaching your children to drink correctly from a cup. They should not be considered a necessary developmental milestone. Some specialists even feel they can delay a child's ability
or interest in learning how to use ordinary cups. Leak-proof cups of any stage are just a convenience, that we feel serve a purpose, but should be used in a limited and thoughtful manner that encourages a child's natural desire to learn skills for using ordinary cups.
A Focus on Cup Materials
Toddler cups can be made from a variety of materials that include plastics, stainless steel, glass, and silicone. Each type of material has benefits and drawbacks that make it a good choice for cup design; with no material being a perfect choice. We feel it is important that parents consider each material's specific attributes before making a decision on which material is right
for their child. While you might have to search harder for the eco-healthier types of cups, we feel the extra time and effort is worth it in the long run, and really isn't too painful if you can do a search online.
Plastic is a lightweight material usually chosen for being economical and easier for children to pick up and carry even while fully loaded. Plastic doesn't break as easily as glass, and if it does it usually doesn't create small pieces that can cause injuries. Plastic also doesn't dent like stainless steel can. Because plastics are light weight and cheaper to use than glass or stainless steel, the majority of toddler cup bodies are made with BPA-free plastic. Many of the mouthpieces are also made with plastic. Unfortunately for plastics, several studies have indicated that even "BPA-free" plastics have the potential to leach chemicals into their contents in a similar fashion to the old BPA plastic. In addition, some plastics also degrade and leach chemicals when heated, so it is best to avoid the dishwasher, microwave, or hot car with plastic cups. This makes them a little more inconvenient, because you really should always hand wash plastic cups to be on the safe side.
You might want to check out our related article, Are Plastics Safe for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups?
Stainless Steel is one of the heavier material options for toddler cups. The heavier material, especially if the cup in insulated, can make it more difficult for very little ones to pick it up or use it. This is less of a concern for the toddler stage of cups, because most toddlers have the strength and coordination to pick up the steel cups. While it might be heavier, it doesn't leach, break, shatter, or chip; and it is safe to put in the dishwasher if it doesn't have a painted exterior. These fine attributes made steel superior to plastic and glass. Stainless steel is easy to clean, sometimes naturally antimicrobial, and it doesn't impart flavor to its contents. Stainless steel is also recyclable and usually made from
Glass, like stainless steel, is an inert material that doesn't leach chemicals or impart flavor to its contents. However, it is breakable, can shatter, and is significantly heavier than plastic, so it might be harder to hold. To work around these flaws, manufacturers like Lifefactory and EIO gave their glass cups a silicone sleeve to help avoid injury to toddlers, and improve the grip-ability of their cups. But even with a silicone sleeve, glass cups can, and will, eventually break. This means caution should be taken when using cups made of glass and children shouldn't be left alone with them.
Silicone is a nice soft pliable material that is considered to be safer than plastics. However, the jury is still out on the true safety of silicone. Some studies have indicated that heat can cause silicone to deteriorate; so components made of silicone should be washed by hand and parents should avoid putting them in the microwave and dishwasher. Many spouts and valves are made of silicone, as well as the sleeves found on some cups.
Let's Talk Spouts
The toddler mouthpiece designs are widely varied, unlike the spouts for transition cups. For toddler cups in our tests there were 3 cup-like edges, 5 soft spouts, 4 straw cups, and 9 hard spout cups; the Kid Basix Safe Sippy 2
interestingly had a hard spout, but one valve and one straw options for a more versatile cup.
Harder spouts have a higher risk of injury
, but weren't chewable and avoided most of the damage caused by teething toddlers. The spouts have no "give", so should a child fall while using the cup, there is a chance they will be injured.
The softer spouts help children bridge the potential gap between transition and toddler cups. They are a similar mouthpiece to a bottle nipple, or spouts found on the transition cups. In many cases, the spout is actually the same for both toddler and transition style cups. A good example of this is the Pura Kiki Stainless
, and the Pura Kiki Toddler
, which both use the same one piece silicone soft spout.
The straw mouthpiece was more common in the toddler cups than transition cups. Your dentist would probably prefer a straw cup,
as the ADA feels they can increase oral hygiene by decreasing the amount of liquid that comes in direct contact with teeth. The straw cups in our tests didn't generally do well in the leak tests, but they all were easy to drink from, and came with some kind of closeable attached lid to help prevent leaks.
While we feel that the type of spout a toddler cup has, and what they are made of, is important, we feel that no matter which one you choose that children should continually be encouraged to master the skills necessary for drinking from ordinary cups, and that the transition from no-leak cup to regular cups, be done as quickly as possible.
A Word on Valves
Sippys normally have a valve that prohibits fluid from flowing back through the spout, and leaking out of the cup. This is the heart and soul of most no-leak cups. However, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that parents avoid no-leak valves entirely
. They offer several pieces of advice regarding Sippys we think are good to keep in mind:
- A sippy may encourage the similar sucking action as nipples, which isn't a necessary skill after infancy.
- Too heavy a reliance on sippys may prevent parents from offering opportunities for children to use real cups.
- Parents may inadvertently increase the amount of sugary/carbohydrate liquids, like juice and milk, that children are offered throughout the day becausethe cups don't leak and make a mess. This practice could increase the chance of tooth decay, not just because of the kind of liquid but because of the amount and the sucking required to use a cup with a leak proof valve properly.
In fact, both the AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) and the ADA (American Dental Association) recommend that parents only use cups with valves for a small amount of time and encourage them to help their children master the skills necessary for using a real cup as quickly as possible. As soon as children can successfully drink from regular cups unassisted, leak-free valve cups should be discontinued.
Sticking with one of the straw cups eliminates the valve issue altogether in toddler cups. Straws also reduce the amount of liquid that comes into contact with teeth. These cups usually come with a lid of some kind that keeps the straw clean, and aids in preventing leaks.
All parents should be aware that no-leak cups can present a potential hazard to toddlers running about
. Cups should never be used when a child is in motion.
Research indicates that a child enters the emergency room every 4 hours on average with a sippy related injury. So you must be careful when using leak-free cups, and always follow the directions and the ADA guidelines (shown below) for best practices.
The following list contains the best practices for leak-free cup use
, as directed by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
- Use for Short, Defined Periods — Only use valved sippy cups for defined periods like snack and meal time. This not only helps minimize the risk of dental decay decreases likelihood of complications with dentition formation.
- Practice with a Real Cup Often — Parents should try to offer children a real cup as often as possible so that they can gain the skills necessary to make this transition earlier rather than later, reducing the amount of time children are dependent upon leak-free cups.
- Injury Avoidance — Children should only use sippy cups when stationary, preferably sitting down to avoid injury.
Criteria for Evaluation
We considered several metrics while testing and evaluating each toddler cup. Our primary categories were ease of use, leakage, ease of cleaning, and eco-health. These categories were further broken down into components relevant to the overall metric.
The one thing a leak-free cup shouldn't do is leak, and it should come as no surprise that this category is the most heavily weighted (35%) in our overall scoring. The primary reason for using a sippy is to avoid leaking, and the messes that come with it. If leaking were okay, you would just hand that toddling toddler a regular cup, and let the fluid fly free. Active toddlers and parents look to leak-free cups to give them the freedom of hydration, without the frustration of spills. Whether the cup is in
your diaper bag, on the couch, or jostling about in the backseat of your car, everyone wants a cup that won't leave a leaky mess. Even if the offending leak isn't something that will stain, it could leave a bad smell, need immediate clean up, or just result in a thirsty child with nothing to drink. Being leak-proof is really the definition a sippy cup. Therefore, we felt the most important metric for this category was leakage, and if the cup leaked, how much liquid was lost.
An impressive 7 sippys scored a perfect 10 of 10 score
in our leakage tests. We ended up feeling that it isn't enough to just look at leakage, as ease-of-use sometimes suffered if cups scored 10 of 10 in leakage. For example, the Eco Vessel Stainless Steel
scored 10 of 10 in leakage, but was just too darn hard to drink from, requiring a strong suck to get fluids, and as a result scored a disappointing 1 of 10 in ease-of-use.
The sporty bottle was leak-proof
The worst scoring cup in our leakage test was the EIO Glass Kids Cup, at 1 of 10, but we feel that score may not be entirely fair since this cup is designed to be a training cup, helping expedite a toddlers journey to a regular cup (something your toddler's dentist will appreciate), and not to be entirely spill/leak proof.
Ease of Use
Cups should be easy to use, or children will lose interest in them very quickly. Many of the cups we tested were so hard to drink from that even adults found them to be difficult. Some of the child testers wouldn't drink out of them at all. Tiny testers were drawn to specific cups based on color and graphics, shape and texture, and spout design. However, if the cup was harder to drink from than the average cup, toddlers quickly moved on to less eye-stimulating choices, and settled on cups that were easy to drink from.
While ease of cleaning, eco-health, or leakage may be important to some parents, if toddlers couldn't get the cup to work, then they just didn't use it; no matter how much the parents liked it. As one toddler put it, "I like this cup because I can drink all the water out of it." Since he was talking about the rather unimpressive looking OXO Straw Cup
, you can be assured his choice was motivated by how easy the straw worked, not by the plain green and clear plastic bottle surrounding that straw.
The cups shown above were a few of the most difficult toddler cups to use; each earned below average scores for this metric. From left to right the cups are Eco Vessel Stainless Steel Insulated
, Zo-li Bot Straw Cup
, and the Philips AVENT Natural Drinking Cup
Ease of Cleaning
If a cup isn't easy to clean or assemble, then you aren't going to want to use it. Lets face it, life with toddlers is challenging enough without having to read instruction to make a cup work. No parent wants to spend their precious, limited time cleaning copious amounts of cup components. This is why some cups end up gathering dust in cupboards or drawer, or worse, tossed in the trash. No one wants to throw away good money after bad, simply because a cup isn't simple. Sure, we would love to think that the only thing that matters is leaking and toddler preference, but honestly if parents hate the cup, toddler will never get to use it.
Convenience is paramount for most parents, and it is something we all strive for in the products we purchase and use regularly. Does this cup make life easier or harder? We think there is no reason to make life harder than it has to be. For this reason, we feel that ease of cleaning is an important metric to consider when choosing the right cup for your toddler. In the end, we feel you shouldn't forget about the bedraggled, sleep deprived mom or dad, who has to make this cup work and keep its parts clean.
Toddler cups come in a wide range of component types and number of parts. Some of the cups were easy to assemble no matter how many parts they had, and other cups had us scratching our heads with just three parts to figure out. While most of the cups required a basic bottle brush to clean (especially the longer thinner cups), the straw cups needed a special straw brush to ensure proper cleaning. The Zo-li Bot Straw Cup
, actually required the purchase of an additional cleaning kit! Lower scores were given to the cups that required the most intensive cleaning, number of tools, or time to assemble.
Many of the cups did fairly well in this metric with several earning scores of 8 of 10 or better. The First Years Insulated
earned the top score for this metric because it has only two parts and both can be cleaned easily without special tools. Editors' Choice pick, Pura Kiki Toddler
earned an impressive 8, is easy to clean, but lost a point for three parts as opposed to two. The Zo-li Bot
earned only a 1 for this metric having multiple parts that require the purchase of a special cleaning tool kit for proper cleaning.
Eco-health is a very
important category to us here at BabyGearLab. We all come into contact with lots of chemicals everyday, and some of those are bad for us. Given that toddlers have sensitive developing systems to think about, that could be negatively impacted by exposure to unnecessary chemicals, we like to give health and the environment a consideration in testing when applicable. We also feel that as a parent, it is important to limit the harmful substance when you can, and that the products that your child consumes, or products that hold the consumables, are some of the most important to review when looking for harmful substances. Considering the significance of ensuring your toddlers health, we gave higher marks to the cups that were made from inert materials, like stainless steel and glass.
The cups we tested in the toddler category were primarily made of plastic, with a few stainless steel contenders, and two unique glass offerings. The mouthpiece styles of the cups varied, but the lids, spouts, and valves were all either plastic, silicone, or some combination of the two. We discussed some of this in our Materials
section above, but please review our How to Choose the Best Sippy Cup for a Toddler
article and our Are Plastics Safe for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups?
for further, more in depth, information.
In addition to what the cups are made of, they earned points for being insulated. Insulated cups were able to keep their contents cooler, or more temperature controlled, which meant that the contents would likely stay fresher and more viable for a longer period of time. Something that may not be as important if the contents are water, but might be more important if the contents are milk.
We also gave more points to the toddler cups that adhered closer to the ADA guidelines of not having a valve, or if the valve required less sucking. The straw cups and the EIO Glass Cup
, received the most points for this possible benefit to dental hygiene and being spout types the ADA likes better than other styles. The Zo-li Bot Straw Cup
once again took a hit, this time for being a straw cup with a fairly hard to use incorporated valve.
The cup with the highest marks for eco-health was Thermos Foogo Phase 3 Insulated
. This cup is made from stainless steel, has the preferred ADA straw spout, and is insulated. A few cups came close, but this is the only cup with a perfect 10 of 10 in this metric. Six cups scored a 3 of 10 for eco-health; the NUK Active Cup
, Philips AVENT Natural Drinking Cup
, Zo-li Bot Straw
, Philips AVENT Straw Cup
, Playtex Anytime Spout Cup
, and Munchkin Click Lock
. All are plastic cups with few nods to eco-health.
And the Winners Are
With such stiff competition, it took real standouts to win these awards. The toddler cup winners were chosen based not only on their scores in each metric and their overall score, but on the specific attributes that made them stand out or earn favor with the toddler testers. The Top Pick for Insulated was a nice stainless steel straw cup that ranked higher than the other insulated cups, the fact that it was a straw type spout was a bonus too. The Editors' Choice was another stainless steel cup with so many eco-health attributes it was hard to overlook for our critical editors, who feel very strongly that this metric is important. The cup was also very easy to use and clean, with a great leak score, so there really was no down side to it. The Best Value cup was chosen because it was not only an economical cup, but it didn't leak, was super easy to drink from, and fairly easy to clean.
A variety of Toddler Sippy Cups
A sippy cup may seem like such a simple purchase, but when you start to look, the sheer variety can be overwhelming. With such stiff competition, it took real standouts for our award winners to earn their top places.Whatever is most important to you, whether it be ease of cleaning, having an absolutely leak proof cup, or the kind of material the cup itself is made out of, we selected the best from the bunch. After vigorous testing and rating, we are sure that at least one of our top choices will suit you and your child's needs.