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Yet another milestone in your baby’s life is the transition from breast or bottle to cup. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests fully transitioning from bottles to cups by the time a child is 18 months old. Doing so can help prevent tooth decay and other dental issues.
Sippy cups are a good option for bridging the gap between bottle and open cup because they prevent spilling while also giving your child more independence.
Your child may not take to the first option you present to them, but keep trying! The key to success is choosing cups that are appropriate for your child’s age and stage of development.
Younger babies are still learning to master their coordination, so easy-grip handles and soft spouts are key features to look for in a sippy cup for ages 4 to 6 months. Cup use at this age is optional. It’s more about practice and less about actual drinking. Babies at this age should always be supervised while using a cup or bottle.
1. Nuby No-Spill Super Spout Grip N’Sip
The Nuby No-Spill Super Spout Grip N’Sip is appropriate for babies ages 4 months and up. Key features for this cup include:
- a no-spill design
- a “touch-flo” valve to control liquid speed
- easy-grip handles on both sides
The plastic construction is BPA-free and comes in a variety of bright colors. The cup can hold a full 8 ounces of liquid. It’s also an affordable option.
This cup gets high marks from customers because it’s easy to clean, durable, and leak-free, at least when the top is screwed on correctly.
Some say it isn’t the best choice for children with teeth because they can bite through the silicone spout.
2. Munchkin Latch Transition Cup
The Munchkin Latch Transition Cup is a pricier option, but it has a unique design. This cup is suited for children ages 4 months and up, and features:
- removable ergonomic handles
- an anti-colic valve
- a soft silicone spout
All materials in this plastic cup are BPA-free and screw apart for easy cleaning.
Customers like the adaptability of this cup. The handles can be removed as your child gets more skilled at holding a cup. You can also use Munchkin bottle nipples when necessary.
Others critique the cup’s flow, calling it “restrictive,” and explain that the handles snap off too easily when in use.
3. Tommee Tippee First Sips Soft Transition Cup
The Tommee Tippee First Sips Soft Transition Cup holds five ounces of liquid and is made for babies 4 months and older. Its plastic construction is BPA-free and it features a soft silicone spout that encourages a “natural cup drinking action” by dispensing liquid at an angle.
You may use bottle nipples or the included sippy top that comes with the cup, lending to its versatility.
Reviewers are mixed, but those who like it tout its ease of use. People who don’t like it explain that the top is hard to screw on and off the cup, which can make it difficult to use leak-free.
4. DOIDY Cup
While it may look unusual, the DOIDY Cup is an open-top cup that can be used, under supervision, by children as young as 4 months old. Its slanted shape was designed 40 years ago and is made from food-safe, BPA-free HD Polyethylene.
The main advantage with this cup is that it helps teach the youngest children to drink from a rim, not a spout. Parents like that it’s all one piece and simple to clean.
This type of cup is sure to be quite messy for babies and, as a result, is not a good choice for on-the-go drinking. It’s also more expensive than many of the other options.
As your baby continues transitioning to cup use, the options get more varied and include:
- spout cups
- spout-less cups
- straw cups
The variety you choose is up to you and your baby. Since the cup may be too heavy for your baby to hold with just one hand, cups with handles for this stage are helpful. And even if a cup has a larger capacity, resist filling it to the top so your baby can maneuver it. Continue to supervise your baby using a cup until they are at least 1 year old.
5. NUK Learner Cup
The NUK Learner Cup holds 5 ounces of liquid and features removable handles for your growing baby. It’s appropriate for babies 6 months or older, and is made from BPA-free plastic. The cup has a soft silicone spout that has a special vent to prevent swallowing too much air.
Parents share that this cup is easy to handwash and that the travel piece that comes with the cup prevents leaks when it’s tossed in a diaper bag. Others say their babies had trouble getting milk out of the cup, even when sucking very hard.
6. ZoLi BOT Straw Sippy Cup
The ZoLi BOT straw sippy cup is suitable for babies 9 months or older. It features a weighted straw so your little one can get liquid no matter how the cup is oriented.
The plastic is BPA-free and can be handwashed or run through your dishwasher for cleaning. You can also purchase replacement straws.
Parents who like this cup say that it’s simple to assemble and that the handles are easy for babies to hold. On the downside, babies may bite through the straw (something to pay attention to), and it can be difficult to screw the top on correctly, making it prone to leaks. The cup can also leak if the straw becomes damaged from biting or normal wear and tear.
7. Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup
The Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup is an affordable option. The unique spout-less construction allows babies 6 months and older to simulate drinking from an open cup without the spills.
One of the main pros for the 360 is that it’s recommended by dentists. It’s also streamlined with only three main pieces and top-rack dishwasher safe.
Some parents complain that, while the cup is spill-proof, their smart babies figured out they can pour the liquid by simply pressing on the center of the top.
Toddlers have mastered more dexterity with their hands, so many may graduate from handles at this age. Cups with a curved or hourglass shape can help little hands grip and hold.
8. First Essentials by NUK Fun Grips Hard Spout Sippy Cup
The economical First Essentials by NUK Fun Grips Sippy Cup (previously sold as Gerber Graduates) is made in the United States from BPA-free plastic. The two-part design is simple and the hourglass shape is easy for toddlers ages 12 months and older to grab.
This cup features a 100 percent spill-proof, leak-proof, break-proof guarantee.
Some reviewers say the cup’s base is too wide, and that it doesn’t fit easily into standard cup holders or diaper bag pockets.
You may wash this sippy either by hand or in the dishwasher.
9. Nuby No-Spill Cup with Flex Straw
Nuby’s No-Spill Flex Straw Cup is a popular choice for toddlers who prefer straws to spouts. The silicone straw has a built-in valve to prevent spills and leaks, and is sturdy enough to stand up to occasional biting.
While this 10-ounce cup does not have handles, it does feature a contoured design for little hands to grip and is made from BPA-free plastic. The straw does require a “squeeze and suck” action to get liquid through the valve, and some tots find this difficult to master. That said, many parents share that the protection the valve provides is worth the extra effort.
10. The First Years Take and Toss Spill-Proof Sippy Cups
For a super affordable, on-the-go option, the First Years Take and Toss Sippy Cups fit the bill. These colorful BPA-free plastic cups are suitable to kids 9 months or older, and feature a value-free design with spill-proof lids. The lids are also interchangeable with other Take and Toss products if you have other little ones around the house.
While these cups do have some advantages with simplicity and affordability, they’re not the most durable. In fact, some treat them like disposable cups, possibly lessening the savings over time. And several parents claim their tots “outsmarted” this cup in moments, spilling the contents out by easily removing the lid.
Toddlers older than 18 months are ready to transition away from cups with valves that require hard sucking, like the action used when drinking from a bottle. When you’re not out and about, be sure to offer your toddler time with a plain, open-topped cup so they can learn sipping technique.
The American Dental Association (ADA) says once your child has mastered the open cup, it’s best to put sippy cups away for good.
11. Zak Designs Toddlerific Perfect Flo Toddler Cup
The Zak Designs Toddler Cup can be used with babies as young as 9 months old, but its handle-less design is better suited for toddlers. It features a spout lid with an adjustable flow for up to 9 ounces of liquid. You can wash this double-wall, BPA-free plastic cup in your dishwasher, but it’s not for use in the microwave.
This cup is insulated, spill-free, and easy to clean. Some parents complain, though, that the valve to control the flow breaks easily or that the cap cracks when dropped.
12. First Essentials by NUK Seal Zone Insulated Cup
This cup from NUK (previously sold as Gerber Graduates) has a layer of ArcticWrap insulation to keep liquids cold for up to 6 hours. Its spoutless rim design is great for older toddlers who have graduated to open cups, but who still need spill protection on the go.
The BPA-free plastic can be handwashed or run through your dishwasher for cleaning.
People who recommend this cup say it has exceptional protection against leaks. Other parents say the lid cracks after only a couple months of use and that the spill-proof feature makes the cup difficult to open.
13. Reflo Smart Cup
Reflo Smart Cups are award-winning, open-top cups that are just the right size for small hands. You can start using these cups with kids as young as 6 months old, but they are more suited for toddlers who are ready to train for an open cup.
The secret? A special clear “lid” of sorts nests inside the cup to help slow the flow of liquid if the cup is tipped over.
Parents say this cup is great for children who may not be able to use a sippy due to a cleft palate or other medical issues.
This USA-made cup also gets high marks for slowing the flow of liquid enough so kids don’t choke. The special lid may get displaced easily, however.
You may try a sippy cup with your child as early as 4 months old, but it isn’t necessary to begin the switch this early. The AAP suggests offering your baby a cup around 6 months of age, around the time when they begin solid foods. Other sources say to start the switch closer to 9 or 10 months.
Here are some tips to help you introduce a cup:
- For younger babies, offer a cup with some plain water between regular mealtimes.
- For children 1 year or older, replace the midday bottle with a cup of your choice.
- Once your baby gets the hang of it, you may start replacing the morning or evening bottle with a cup.
- Resist letting your child crawl or walk around the house with a sippy cup all day long. Doing so may affect their appetite and cause dental issues, like tooth decay.
- Good first beverages for cups include breast milk, milk, and water. If you do offer juice, dilute it with water. Water is the best choice for between meals and snack times.
- If your child doesn’t seem to do well with one type of cup, try another. Not all cups will work for all babies or toddlers.
- Transition away from cups that require sucking as soon as possible. In fact, the ADA explains that, while it may not be as convenient, the “best” training cup for your child is one with no valve.
Overall, remember to be patient. Learning to use a cup is a skill that may take your little one some time to master. Don’t be surprised if it takes several weeks for them to figure out a new cup.
Transitioning to a cup is another big milestone your baby will reach when they’re ready. Be sure to give your child plenty of opportunities to hone this new skill.
And if one cup doesn’t work, try another of a different design. Your pediatrician is a wonderful resource for any other questions you may have regarding weaning your child to a cup.