We included other information in our individual product reviews that did not count toward the final scoring, like cup size and styles. We felt the merit of these specifics were subjective, and more swayed by personal opinion than anything else. While parents might find the information helpful in making a choice, the information had little to do with how well a cup functioned. Given this, we chose not to make assumptions on what parents would consider "better" when it came to attributes like size and available graphics.
Below are the details of how we tested each toddler cup, how their scores were determined, and the behind the scenes process at BabyGearLab.
Ease of Use
Even though leakage is the primary concern of most parents it won't matter if a cup leaks or not if it is too hard to use. For this metric we tested how easy the cups were to drink from, and whether or not the cup was hard to hold or maneuver, given its weight or other design features.
To determine ease of sucking, we filled each cup with water and compared them side by side by actually using them. We first determined which cups were the most difficult to use compared to the other cups, and these set the standard for the low score of 1. Then, the remaining cups were rated according to how they compared to the worst the cups. Cups that earned a 10 were those cups that required no effort to use at a flow rate chosen by the user.
When it came to grip and hold of the toddler cups, we gave higher points for those cups that had more user-friendly designs. Cups with slim profiles, silicone sleeves, contoured bodies, and handles, all earned higher scores than cups with none of these factors. We compared each cup against the other cups we tested to determine their scores. Cups with a score of 10, were cups we felt toddlers could easily pick up without dropping,and hold for longer periods of time.
The cups empty weight was also a factor in determining ease of use. We gave higher points to the lightest cups, and the lowest points to the heavier options.
We felt that in order to test leaking potential, the cups should go through a series of leak-inducing scenarios in order to give them a score on a scale from 1 to 10; 10 being completely leak proof and a score of 1 indicating that it spilled every last drop it contained.
First, we tipped full cups on their sides.
Next, we tested the cup's "upside down" leaking tendencies.
It is important to note, that some of the cups came with closeable lids or caps, that would reduce or eliminate leaking if used properly and consistently. We chose not to utilize the separate cap options, but we did use the attached caps for testing. We made the assumption that detached caps would probably get misplaced, or be unavailable when parents needed them, while attached lids would always be there. The goal of our testing was to determine results in real world scenarios; in our experience, the real world rarely has the time to find and put a separate cap on.
Ease of Cleaning
In addition, cups scored points for being dishwasher safe; most cups claimed to be with only painted cups specifying hand wash to avoid damage to the cup graphics. However, when scoring ease of cleaning we looked at how difficult a cup was to clean by hand as opposed to whether or not it could be put in the dishwasher.
Insulated cups received higher points than the non-insulated variety, with the assumption that some liquids are healthier if kept at a constant temperature or are not allowed to get warm. Milk, for example, might need to retain a specific temperature in order to stay fresh. There were more insulated cup offerings in the toddler stage than the transition, and still more in the kid bottles than toddler.