Trying to find the right transition sippy cup for baby? Once your infant starts moving on to solid foods, water will become a very valuable part of their diet as well. This milestone will likely encourage the beginning of your search for the best sippy to serve as a transition from bottles, and/or breastfeeding, into the world of leak-free cups. We initially looked at 32 top cups, specifically designed for babies from the ages of 4 to 9 months, and hand-picked 14 cream of the crop cups (say that three times fast!) to go through our tests. The transition cups were tested in metrics such as leakage, ease of use, eco-health, ease of cleaning, and eco-health. Most of the cup designs were quite similar, but a few rose above the crowd either for being unique or for being made of materials that are more eco-friendly. In the end, our in-house tests, along with a cadre of tiny testers, narrowed down the cups that stood out from the competition.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Update — August 2017
Our Best Value award winner, the Gerber Graduates Sip & Smile has been replaced by it's sister product, the Fun Grips Soft Spout Trainer cup. Read more about the new cup in the review.
Best Overall Transition Sippy
Pura Kiki Stainless Sippy
Read review: Pura Kiki Stainless Sippy
Best on a Budget
Gerber Graduates Sip & Smile
Read review: Gerber Graduates Sip & Smile
Best Insulated Transition Sippy
Thermos Foogo Phase I Insulated
Read review: Thermos Foogo Phase 1 Insulated
Tommee Tippee First Sips
While this cup might not have been as cheap as the Gerber Graduates Sip & Smile, it did prove it was a real contender by scoring higher than the Sip & Smile, and it still had a better than average price, compared to the other transition cups we tested. This cup is easy to find online and in stores.
Read review: Tommee Tippee First Sips
Read review: thinkbaby The Sippy Cup Stage C
Analysis and Test Results
The name "Transition Cup" refers to the age period from 4 to 9 months, when a baby will be ready to transition from strictly bottle and/or breastfeeding to using a cup. Spills can be an inconvenient and frustrating issue, resulting in the use some kind of spill-resistant cup by most parents. As we will detail in this review, and cover more fully in our corresponding article, How to Find the Best Transition Sippy, all the various Leak-Free Cups are grouped into three stages for different age groups. In this review, we focus on the Transition cups, the youngest age tier.
Types of Sippy Cups
The original leak-free cup was created by an engineer named Richard Belanger. He was tired of cleaning up after his baby who was just learning to use an ordinary cup properly and was suffering from the same pitfalls all babies have suffered from throughout time, they all spill their cups. What might surprise you, is that he invented the cup in 1988, which really wasn't that long ago (or are we dating ourselves?).
Belanger created a simple cup with a valve that prevented the backflow of liquid and thereby helped the cup avoid spilling its contents when not used properly. At first, the family just kept it at home and made the cups themselves, but in time, Belanger was able to sell his creation to Playtex, and the no-leak cup was officially born sometime in the early 90s.
While the leak-free cup of yore may vary from the cups, or transition cups we know and love today, it certainly paved the way for the plethora of products you now find lining the baby aisle shelves. We wonder if Belanger ever thought his simple leak-proof cup was going to make it this big.
All the Sippys a Stage
The photos above are of Sippy cups in every stage. From left to right, they are Transition cups, designed for age 4-9 mos, Toddler cups, for 9 mos to 3 yrs, and Kid bottles, for 3-6 yrs.
No-leak cups are organized into different developmental stages defined by age ranges. The features of the cup consider the developmental factors related to each age grouping. Knowing the recommended age range for each cup can aid in pinpointing the correct cup stage for baby.
Best Toddler Sippy Cups, to see our ratings of the 21 most popular, and highly rated leak-free cups on the market.
Kid bottles are perfect for children from 3 to 6 years of age that lead an on-the-go lifestyle. They usually feature even larger volume capabilities, of 10 to 15 ounces. Kid bottles are often insulated with the thought of longer days at school, camp, and outdoor activities in mind.
Sippy Cups of Any Stage
Sippy cups are definitely not a requirement for teaching children to drink correctly from an adult cup. Some specialists even believe that it can delay a child's ability or desire to use a real cup. Leak-free cups of any kind are merely a convenience, that we feel can serve a purpose when used in a limited conscious manner, that does not inhibit a child's natural interest in mastering the skill of drinking from a normal cup.
Hey, What's that Cup Made of? Focus on Materials
Leak-free cups are manufactured from a wide range of materials: silicone, glass, plastics, and stainless steel. Every substance comes with its own pros and cons. It is essential to take a look at the traits of each material before deciding which one is best for your child. It may be more difficult to find the eco-healthier variety of cups, than some of the plastic cups we tested, but we believe the additional effort is worth it and not too difficult if you are able to order them online.
We've written an article on this topic you might be interested in, Are Plastics Safe for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups?
Glass is an inert material that doesn't leach chemicals, similar to stainless steel. Unfortunately, it is breakable and it weighs much more than plastic. To circumvent this flaw, some companies such as Lifefactory include a silicone sleeve with their glass cups to avoid injury to babies should the glass break. That being said, glass cups can, and will, eventually break, even with a silicone sleeve. So caution should be taken when using glass cups, and babies should never be left alone with them.
Let's Talk Spouts
The transition mouthpiece designs are not as varied as that of the toddler cups, but there are still a few options to choose from. Most of the cups we tested in the transition category had soft spouts that were gentle on gums and an easier transition from bottle nipples.
injury, because they do not "give" if a baby should fall on one while using it.
One of the transition cups we tested had a straw mouthpiece; this kind of mouthpiece was more common in the toddler cups than transition cups. It's likely that your dentist would recommend a straw cup as they decrease the amount of liquid that directly contacts baby's teeth. Although the straw cup in this transition review did not do well for ease of sucking, we still think straw type spouts are a good choice.
While we feel that the type of mouthpiece a transition cup has, and what it is made of, is important, we think that no matter which spout type you choose, that babies should always be encouraged to drink from ordinary cups whenever possible to gain important new skills.
A Word on Valves
In fact, the ADA suggests parents use leak-free cups only for a short duration, that they us cups without valves, and that parent encourage children to master the skill of controlled drinking from a real cup as soon as possible and then discontinue the product.
Sticking with a straw cup eliminates the issue of valves. They also reduce the amount of fluid that comes into contact with teeth, and they typically come with a lid that seals up the straw opening when the cup is not in use.
Safety Firsta potential hazard to babies just learning to toddle about . Cups should never be used while an infant is moving. Research indicates that a child enters the emergency room every 4 hours, on average, with a product related injury from improper cup use; lacerations to the face or palate are the primary injury reported. In fact, between 1991 and 2010, an incidence of 45,000 pediatric injuries presented to ERs as a result of sippy cup use, typically oral lacerations. So be careful when using leak-free cups, follow safe practice directions, and the ADA guidelines below.
The following are best practices for leak-free cup use, as directed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Dental Association (ADA):
Criteria for Evaluation
We considered several metrics while testing and evaluating each transition cup. Our primary categories were leakage, ease of use, eco-health, and ease of cleaning. These categories were further broken down into components relevant to the overall metric.
Ease of Use
Cups must be easy to use, or your child won't be interested in it. Some of the cups we tested were hard to drink from for adults so we can only imagine the difficulty a child might encounter. In-house testers were drawn to specific cups based on looks, shape, and texture, but if the cup was hard to drink from the babies quickly moved on to easier options, or grew frustrated. In general, the babies preferred cups they could easily hold, were fairly light weight, and were easy to drink from. While ease of cleaning, eco-healthy, or leakage might be important to parents, if a baby couldn't get the cup to work, or it was hard to hold, then it wasn't going to be used no matter how much the parents liked it.
The cups below were a few of the most difficult transition cups to use; each earned only a 3 of 10 for this metric. The Nuk Learner Cup, The Playtex Training Time Straw Cup, and Lansinoh mOmma.
The one thing you don't want in a transition sippy cup is leaks. If leaking were the goal, you could just hand that baby a regular cup and let the party start. On the go babies and parents look to leak-proof cups to give them the freedom of hydration, without the frustration and hassle of spills. No matter where the cup is at the moment, everyone wants a cup that won't leak in your diaper bag, on the rug, or in the backseat of your car. Even if the leaking liquid won't stain, they might leave a bad smell, merit a quick clean up, or end with a thirsty child who has nothing to drink. We felt the most important metric was leakage, and if a cup did leak, by how much.
Given this, we tested each cup for its tendency to leak. The cups were put through several leak tests in an effort to illicit possible leaking. The tests helped us to determine which transition cups could hold their liquid, and which could not.
Ease of Cleaning
Unlike the toddler cups, which varied more widely, most of the transitional cups had similar number of parts and assembly. However, the amount of time to assemble the parts varied. While most of the cups only required a basic bottle brush to clean, an item we assume most parents have at least one of, some needed a straw brush to ensure proper cleaning. Lower scores were given to the cups that required more cleaning tools, or that took longer to take apart or assemble.
When we consider products, eco-health is a very important element to us here at BabyGearLab. We feel that your baby will come in contact with loads of chemicals during their developmental years that could have a negative impact to their sensitive developing systems. Therefore, we feel it is important to limit as many harmful or unknown chemicals and components as you can. Considering the great impact of this, we rated cups made from inert materials, such as stainless steel or glass higher than those made of plastic.
The leak-proof cups we tested in the transition category were all made from either plastic or stainless steel. The mouthpieces, lids, and valves were generally made of a combination of plastic and silicone. We reviewed some of this in our What is that Cup Made of section above, but please review our How to find the Best Transition Sippy article and our Are Plastics Safe for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups?.
Transition cups also gained points for adhering closer to the ADA guideline of not having a valve, or if there was a valve, then the least amount of required sucking the better. The one straw cup in this review, Playtex Straw Cup, also had a valve, so it did not qualify strictly as a straw cup; a "spout" type the ADA likes better than other styles.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.