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Choosing the Right Sippy Cup

Sippy cups. The cup for toddlers. Or, is it? After all, there’s the “transition cup,” the “toddler cup” and the “kid bottle.” Which is correct? Then there are a multitude of styles and materials to choose from ... not to mention the fact that certain types of sippy cups tend to land kids in the E.R.! What? We’re going to help you get through all of this muck with the help of some very well educated and experienced Mommy bloggers. Off we go! If you laugh in the face of your child each time they toss their sippy cup across the room, and not a spill is to be found, you have mechanical engineer (and parent), Richard Belanger to thank for your entitled mockery. In 1988, tired of cleaning up after his son Bryan, Belanger designed what would become, the first sippy cup. So, parents (!) ... a big round of applause for Mr. Bellanger! Which type? The first thing you’ll want to figure out is: are you even using the correct cup? First, the names:

  • Transition cup: This cup will get you from breast- and bottle-feeding to your child’s first "cup." It’ll often have two handles to ease in handling and a soft nipple that’s easy on your baby’s gums. This cup is best for kids aged between 4-12 months.

  • Toddler cup: The toddler cup is aimed at kids between 12 months and 3 years old. Most won’t have handles to help your child work on dexterity, and in this cup you’ll see all sorts of straws and spouts.

  • Kid Bottle: Once your kids reach the age of 3, they’ve likely had all their teeth come in and are most certainly on the move! They’re much bigger than toddler cups and will look more like your own water bottle – just kid-sized.

What material? All sorts of obstacles exist with materials. With plastic, parents are often concerned about BPA. Glass is great, but if you thought a spill was bad, how about a spill with shattered glass everywhere? Stainless steel? Great, but heavy. Silicone looks like a good option as well, but to some,the jury is still out on its safety. Essentially, you have to decide for yourself after weighing all the options. Which spout, straw or valve? Well, the American Dental Association is not a fan of valves – largely because they prolong the consumption of liquids via sucking method instead of sipping. And, when it comes to straws or spouts, a straw is generally preferred because it helps keep liquid off the front teeth, which can lead to cavities over time. What about the hazards? Each of these containers, with perhaps the exception of the soft-spouted cup can also be hazardous should your child fall with one of them in their hand. In fact, every four hours a child somewhere lands in the emergency room because of a sippy cup injury. Ouch! So what do you think? Do you have more of an idea now as to the differences between sippy cups? Do you have more questions? We bet you do. Certainly, a lot of the decision-making comes down to your own preferences for materials and risk tolerance concerning your child’s propensity to “run with scissors,” if you will. If you’d like to dig even deeper, check out the incredibly comprehensive “Sippy Cup Reviews” post on, which served as inspiration for this article. We love the site – that Mommy blogger is a pediatrician!

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