Looking for the perfect sippy cup for your toddler? It is important that active toddlers on the go remain properly hydrated; this will likely prompt a search for the perfect toddler cup to use as a convenient alternative to regular cups when the situation calls for a leak-proof cup.
We narrowed it down from 64 competing toddler cups, designed for children over 9 months old, to the top 21 contenders for testing and review. The toddler cups were tested for their ease of use, potential leakage, and eco-health attributes. Some of the 21 cups tested were difficult to use, while others leaked. A few cups had really useful or unique designs, while others employed more eco-healthy materials in their overall construction. In the end, our test scores and collection of toddler testers, helped to determine which cups rose above the pack.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Best Overall Sippy Cup
Pura Kiki Toddler
Read review: Pura Kiki Toddler
Best for a Budget
Munchkin Click Lock Insulated
Read review: Munchkin Click Lock Insulated
Top Pick for Insulated Cup
Thermos Foogo Phase 3 Insulated
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
Read review: Sassy Grow Up Cup
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
Read review: EIO Glass Kids Cup
Analysis and Test Results
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
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, a handle on each side for easy grasping, and come in smaller sizes so baby can better hold and maneuver the cup while learning. 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 a much larger volume capacity, and many are insulated for long 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 from a cup correctly. 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 simply convenient, we feel they can 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.
You might want to check out our related article, Are Plastics Safe for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups?
Let's Talk Spouts
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.
Pura Kiki Stainless, and the Pura Kiki Toddler, which both use the same one piece silicone soft spout.
While we do believe that the type of spout a toddler cup has, and what they are made of matters, 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
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.
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):
Criteria for Evaluation
We factored in several different metrics while evaluating and testing these cups. Our main testing categories were ease of use, leakage, ease of cleaning, and eco-health. We further divided these categories 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
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 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.
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.
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.
— Juliet Spurrier MD, Wendy Schmitz, & BabyGearLab Team
Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.