When purchasing age-specific items for your children, you want the best: no toxins, no dirtiness, and definitely, no risks involved. One of the best inventions to keep you and your kid clean is the sippy cup. Sippy cups are spill-proof, meaning that they are capable of preventing your child from spilling their juice on the carpet or on their favorite shirt. However great this invention is, it is still an item that your child will be putting in their mouth, meaning that you must be extra cautious when selecting the brand. Picking the right sippy cup will alleviate stress on you and your toddler. Below are some tips for how to pick the right sippy cup.
Why Even Bother?
Some parents are hesitant to get sippy cups because they view them as a waste of money. Sippy cups tend to be more expensive than regular plastic cups. So, a lot of parents try to do without them. However, even though some children may be able to go straight to a normal cup with no problem, some are a little…. messier than others. You’d be surprised how easily fruit juices can stain or the smell old, spilled milk can leave in the carpet. It is safer (as spills can end in falls.) and will alleviate the stress of constant, potential spills. There are other great benefits of sippy cups.
Hydration: children are constantly moving, and keeping hydrated is super important. However, making them leave their play time to come to the kitchen for a drink out of a normal cup may impede children’s hydration, as they do not want to leave the fun. Sippy cups allow children to carry their water with them, without the risk of spilling, so they can avoid dehydration throughout the day.
Mobility: whether you are leaving the house, going on a long trip, or simply taking a walk to the park, having a cup that is mobile is often a great way to prevent spills and dehydration. They fit well into most cup holders in car, and some even come with insulation. So, the drink stays cool longer.
Gateway: once children are comfortable with their sippy cups, they are then more likely to adjust to “adult” cups. The shape, how far you must tilt it back, and being cognizant of where they are placing it, are all training techniques to prepare them for the big-kid cup.
To be fair, there are some instances where sippy cups have been shown to have potential dangers. These dangers are not inherent; rather, they are user errors that need to be corrected.
Potential injury: as with any toy or product, misuse can lead to injury. Some children might try to run with the cup in their mouth, which is dangerous if they were to fall down. This can be prevented by encouraging the child to sit or stand still during drinking.
Tooth Decay: unfortunately, some sippy cups are not designed for sugary drinks, such as fruit juices. These sugars tend to stick on the sippy cup, if not washed properly, and can cause the child to constantly sip on sugar residue, which is bad for their teeth. The best way to prevent this is to thoroughly wash after each use.
What Types of Sippy Cups are Available?
There are different sippy cup styles for different ages. These cups are designed to benefit the children as they are transitioning into toddler-hood, without giving them too much of a challenge. Using the easiest cups possible will eliminate frustration and those pesky spills.
Transition cups: these cups are for young children, aging from 4-12 months. These cups typically hold around 8-10 ounces. So, the child learns how to pace themselves while staying hydrated. They usually have handles on either side that easily fit the child’s hands without slipping, making it easier for them to tilt them back and drink. These cups help them master the hand-eye coordination needed for drinking. With the light weight of the cup, a few drops on the foot (or even the face) will do no harm.
Toddler Cups: the age range for these cups is from 1-3 years of age. They are normally a little larger, holding anywhere from 8-14 ounces and are a little thinner in diameter ( to help toddler practice holding the cups with one hand). These are the perfect cups to prevent excessive spills while helping the child remain clean and stress-free.
Kid Bottles: these cups are designed for children over the age of 3. They hold much more liquid than the toddler cups, which can remain perfectly insulated for hours. These cups typically have spouts with flexible straws. This allows the child to maneuver drinking without actually spilling.
Sippy Cup Design
The cups are very durable, made with thick materials that are easily tossed and turned and stepped on, preventing any breakages. They are usually thinner and taller in the main body. So, they are able to fit into the cup holders in cars. They are also slim enough for the small hands of your child. These cups are also typically decorated in children’s favorite characters from TV shows, movies, and games. They are made with plastic and rubbery hand areas to keep the cup in the hands of the kid and not on the floor. Most of these cups are machine washable and able to hold anything from water to fruit juices.
Types of Cups
The type of cup you purchase must be a good fit for your child. Each child is different, as is each cup, and it is important to experiment to decide what kind cup would most benefit your child. The list below will help give you some insight into what types of cups are available, as well as help you decide which will work best for your kid and you.
Slim and Tall: many toddler cups are slim and tall. These fit easily into cup holders and children’s hands. They also tend to save room in the diaper bag. However, these cups do have some downfalls. For instance, the slim shape makes it hard to hand-wash, and unless they are dishwasher friendly, you may not be able to get all of the old drink out of the cup after each use. This may not be a huge issue with water; however, with juices or milk, the cup could become quite gross. Be sure to check up on the cleaning procedures or find a small enough scrubber to keep the cup clean for your child.
Short and Shaped:
When the cups have a hourglass shape, they can range from a slim middle, or a complete contour, making them easier for children to grip. Most of these also have rubber ridges on them, making it so, even when wet, the cup will stay in the child’s hands. Unfortunately, these cups do not hold as much fluid as other cups, (due to the slim middle) and can require frequent refills. In addition, the cups’ odd shape makes it more difficult to clean and drink from. Most children have to strain to get the liquid to maneuver through the curves of the cup. Also, these cups typically only come in plastic—no pure rubber—making them susceptible to breaks and crushes, as well as impedes them from the dishwasher.
Short and Stout:
Squat cups are more similar to the transition cups, but they are able to be used for all ages. These cups have a flatter bottom and tend to be shaped more like a cylinder, no shapes or curves about them. They seem to be better for holding more liquid, as well as for cleaning purposes. Unfortunately, these tend to not fit into cup holders and they take up more room in diaper bags and backpacks, making it so they’re not suitable for travel. They tend to limit the skills of toddlers, as they do not learn how to use cupholders or how to actually “sip” (seeing as these sometimes have holes in the top where they can drink out of it).
What are they made of?
Regardless of what kind of cup you choose, the materials used to make the cup are equally as important as the cup itself. Cups can be made of glass, stainless steel, plastic, and silicone. While some are made entirely of plastic, most are made of a combination of two or more of these materials. Unfortunately, some of these materials can be dangerous, both to the health of public and the planet. Looking for a cup with a combination of materials, as well as eco-healthy materials, is the best and safest kind of sippy cup for children. These sturdy materials are able to withstand falls, kicks, bites, and smashes. Therefore, they are more durable, as well as washable. The issue then stands: are plastic cups safe?
Plastic inherently has some health issue concerns of which parents should be aware. First of all, their materials are typically not made from a safe source. You are not sure what types of plastics you are getting, recycled or not. Plastics are sometimes capable of holding lead, which is very dangerous to your child. Be sure to check reviews and safety hazards of all products, not just cups that you buy for your child. If plastic still makes you hesitant, check out the other materials that can make great sippy cups such as rubber, silicone, and even wrapped glass.
Parts of the Sippy Cup
Spouts: There are different kinds of spouts found in sippy cups. These vary from plastic spouts, softer silicone spouts, as well as straws. Parents and guardians should be aware of each kind of spout, as they can enhance or degrade any sippy cup experience.
Hard spouts: These spouts have almost no give in them, making them difficult to drink from. Since children tend to chew on their spouts, this can cause some discomfort to the child. However, they are the sturdiest and promise the longer-lasting life of the spout, and cup, overall.
Soft spouts: Most spouts on sippy cups are soft, easily flexible mouth pieces that are easy to drink from. They tend to be easy to clean, susceptible to biting and gnawing, and are much easier on the teeth. Although soft spouts can lead to a few more leaks, they are more comfortable for the child.
Straws: Most straw-based cups are valve free and easier to clean. Since the liquid goes straight past the teeth and to the throat, dentists recommend this type of sippy cup for most parents due to how easy they are on the teeth.
Valves are essential to leak-proof sippy cups. They prevent liquids from exiting, but still let toddlers drink from the cup with ease. They almost never spill, unless they are used incorrectly. The difficulty of valves depends on the cup. Therefore, looking into the cup’s level of difficulty before purchasing it,is a great way to prevent the ever-dreaded “impossible cup.” Choosing a cup based on looks might just land you with a difficult valve, so be sure to do your research.
As stated before, the make and design of the cup are super important for the safety and well-being of your child. Unfortunately, there can sometimes be issues with sippy cups that can lead to injury. Again, these are typically user-errors that result in someone getting hurt. To avoid injury:
- Encourage children to sit and or stand still while drinking. It is important that they don’t try to run with the cup, especially when in their mouths.
- Try to only put water, milk, or all-natural fruit juices into the cup. Constant flow of sugary drinks can lead to cavities.
- Do not allow the child to simply suck on the cup. This has the same effect as thumb-sucking, and could lead to some dental issues, such as “buck teeth” or the teeth protruding outward over the lips.
- Be sure to continue to try to adjust to a real, big-kid cup once they seem to get the hang of the sippy cups. The point of them is to eventually transition to the normal cup.
How to Choose Your Cup
First, choose what materials you prefer the cup to have. Do your research and decide what is best, both on reviews and product details. If you have a child who likes to play rough, plastic and rubber may be your best bet.
Next, pick a spout. Whether you want to go with a straw, hard spout, or soft spout, be sure to pick the one you feel your child will benefit from the most. If you have a child who likes to chew, perhaps a softer spout if the best option. If you have a messy drinker, the hard spout is the way to go.
After that, you need to decide if insulation is important to you. Insulated cups cost more. Therefore, it is an important decision. Some children only like cool drinks—if that is the case, aim for the insulated cups.
Once you understand what you need, research will lead you to the right cup. Watch your children, experiment with different sippy cups, and be sure to choose one that is a good fit for your child’s age group. Learning to use the cups can be frustrating, but once the child has the hang of it, you can say goodbye to spills and hello to a hydrated, happy child. Contact us for more information.