When it comes to what cup to use for your toddler, the options can feel overwhelming! There are so many different types of toddler cups out there that it is often hard to know what is best.
When it comes down to it, we want to prioritize using an open cup for our toddlers. But when you are out and about and that is not a viable option, using a straw sippy cup is a great option.
Why It's Important to Use Open Cups
It may seem a little out of left field to recommend using just a regular cup without a lid for your toddler. It seems like cups with a sippy spout that are spill proof are everywhere!
But did you know that sippy lids and sippy cups were invented by an engineer parent as a solution to the mess they were experiencing when their child was drinking?
They weren't designed by experts, like speech therapists that are actually knowledgeable about speech development. Or that know about the proper development of facial muscles and drinking patterns.
And when it comes to those experts, like the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, they actually recommend against any kind of traditional sippy cup lid with a hard spout or a soft spout.
The American Dental Association also recommends avoiding training cups with spill-proof lids. Their argument is that they can prevent your toddler from learning to sip from a cup. They also often lead to tooth decay when sugary drinks, or really anything but water is used in them.
Even with straw cups, you do want to keep this in mind and prioritize them as a water bottle and not a cup for any other liquids.
The Best Type of Cup to Choose For Your Toddler
So if you are avoiding the traditional sippy cup, what other option does that leave you?
In the last few years, rimless cups like the 360 cups have emerged as a popular choice. These, however, are coming to be thought of as similar to sippy cups in how they might alter your child's development.
Spoutless sippy cups tend to fall in this same category if they have any kind of spill-proof top or valve device on them.
Avoid Plastic Sippy Cups for Kids
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding plastic for anything touching food or drinks whenever possible.
When it comes to sippy cups or straw cups, that can be a much harder proposition.
I've got a recommendations for you below. But if you are having a hard time finding anything but a plastic cup, at least aim to find bpa-free plastic. Unfortunately, finding bpa-free cups doesn't eliminate all the concerns with plastic, but it is a start!
The Best Straw Sippy Cup
There are new cups coming out every day! Instead of just telling you my favorite cup (which I will get to, promise!), I'm going to take you through what to look for first. That way, you will be able to evaluate any cup you come across to determine if it is a good option or not.
Easy for Tiny Hands to Hold
The first thing to look for when it comes to a great cup is one that is easy to hold in little hands. Especially if you are shopping for younger babies or toddlers.
That is going to mean one that is fairly skinny, or one with easy-grip handles. I find it best to look for cups with removable handles so that as your child gets older, they will still look forward to using it.
Think of them as training handles. Start with them for babies, but transition them fairly quickly to a cup without the handles. This will help them learn to hold a regular cup at the table easier without the need to hold handles.
Focus on the Straw Lid
The next thing to look for is your best straw option. You want it to have a soft silicone spout, preferably. This way your toddler isn't sucking straight on plastic.
You want the straw to be short enough that it doesn't go all the way to the middle of their tongue. A straw that encourages them to drink by sipping at the front of their mouth is going to be the best for their mouth development.
Some lids will have a soft silicone straw at the top, and then a plastic straw under the lid that sits in the liquid. While this means that the part they are sucking on has a flexible straw and is plastic-free, it doesn't eliminate the concern for plastic that touches drinks or food.
When it comes to the actual lid, finding a flip-top lid is often going to be your best bet. This will stem the liquid flow from the cup without the use of a valve that alters the flow rate of the liquid and their ability to sip from the cup.
While no straw lid is going to lead to easy cleaning, really, finding one without a valve will help with this aspect, too. Finding a good straw brush will also help!
My Favorite Straw Sippy Cup
Now that I've taken you through what to look for, are you ready to actually see the water bottle I use for my kids when they are out and about?
After endless research and trials, my favorite cup for babies and young toddlers are these from Think Baby. They have stainless steel bottles, easy to use handles that are removable, and 100% silicone straws.
The top is a flip top with no valve and an appropriately sized straw length for kids. It also has interchangeable tops that allow you to also use it as a baby bottle.
There are a few downsides to the cup to be aware of.
The threads around the top can be finicky and hard to thread the top on correctly at times, which can lead to leaks. As long as you pay attention that the lid is on properly, however, the cup doesn't leak.
The top lid is also made of plastic. Because the liquid doesn't actually touch the lid though, and the straw is silicone, I still find it to be the best option available.