The Best Sippy Cup (what to look for)

Dietitians spill on the best sippy cup for your baby and when to start using them. Find out why leading experts are warning to limit or avoid babies' and children's use of traditional sippy cups and what to use instead!
6 month old baby drinking from tiny cup

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As parents, we have a lot to be aware of.  What products have been recalled?  Am I handling my kid’s behaviour right?  Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

There’s also a lot of fear-mongering out there, because it’s an easy way for writers to get attention.  Maybe to be a successful blogger I should be writing a different article called “7 WAYS SIPPY CUPS WILL DESTROY YOUR BABY AND RUIN YOUR RELATIONSHIP!”

Let’s be clear, this article is not like that.

However, we do want to make parents aware that there is good reason to be careful with your choice of sippy cup, or just avoid using sippy cups at all with your children.

A sippy cup is a bottle in disguise

Sippy cups seem like the next step for babies, after the bottle.  It gives parents a sense of accomplishment and development, as their child has graduated to “the next step” in their drinking abilities.

In reality, a sippy cup is no different from a bottle, except for the way it’s held.  They both hold liquid in, without releasing it until the baby sucks on it.  There is no developmental benefit to giving a child a sippy cup, but there are two main reasons to avoid it.

1. Sippy cups increase risk for tooth decay

Sippy cups mean your child can drink without spilling, but this benefit is actually the main problem. Since they don’t spill, it’s easy for parents to hand over the milk and let baby sip all day long. The result: a child who takes a sip, plays with a toy, takes a sip, pulls the cat’s fur, etc, all day long.

Prolonged exposure to food and beverages (other than water) increases the risk of tooth decay. Each time a sip of milk hits those developing teeth, it takes the mouth 20 minutes to recover by rebalancing the pH with saliva.  It’s important to reduce these “acid attacks” on the teeth.

If you’re ONLY giving your baby the sippy cup while they’re sitting at their high chair enjoying a meal or a snack, then this is not a problem. However sippy cup problem number two can’t be avoided:

2. Sippy cups impair speech development

Traditional sippy cups use valves to ensure no spills. Speech experts warn us that the technique needed to drink from these valves can alter the child’s speech development. To drink from a sippy cup, the tongue needs to move forward instead of resting towards the back. Since infants are developing so rapidly, this could actually cause a disruption in where the tongue sits at rest.

The fix: open cups and straw cups

For these reasons, it’s recommended to wean a child off both the bottle and sippy cup by 12-14 months.

To accomplish this, start early with an open cup and skip the classic sippy cup altogether!

At 6 months, you can start to teach your child to drink from a regular cup. Since spills are almost guaranteed at this point, start with some water and slowly tip the cup back. Make sure your child’s head doesn’t tip back too far, which could send water down the wrong pipe.

Here’s a video of a 6 month old baby learning to drink from The Tiny Cup by EZPZ:

This is our favourite beginner cup:

  • As the name implies, this cup is the perfect tiny size for your baby’s tiny hands to hold.
  • It’s also weighted at the bottom so it doesn’t tip over very easily.

Some of our favourite straw cups

A "low-spill" option:

I (Jessica) enjoyed using this open cup trainer with my boys. It’s the Avent Natural Drinking cup. When a baby brings the cups to their mouth, their top lip will push the center part in, allowing the water to flow out the edge. There’s no suction involved to access the liquid. 

The downside to this one is that it’s a bit tricky to assemble/disassimble and some people report problems with mold growth. I didn’t have this problem but, then again, I only ever filled it with water. 

And here’s a video of a 12 month old baby (who started practicing at 6 months old) drinking a smoothie from a regular open cup!

Do you have fears or worries about feeding your baby?

Additionally, we know that starting your baby on solids can feel overwhelming and you may have other worries such as…

  • I’m afraid my baby will choke!
  • I’m afraid my baby won’t be getting enough of the right nutrients!
  • I’m afraid my baby will have an allergic reaction!
  • I’m afraid my baby is not eating enough… too much!
  • I’m afraid my baby will be a picky eater!

We’ve created a FREE guide for you to address these fears and most of all, help you work through them! Just enter your email below and you’ll get the guide sent to your inbox.

jess and nita, registered dietitians
Meet Jess and Nita

Hi! We’re both Dietitians & boy mamas! We’re here to help you confidently raise kids who will grow up to be lifelong Happy Healthy Eaters. Dig into our site for kid-tested recipes & feeding tips.