colorful cups

The Best Cups for Babies and Toddlers

The best cups for babies and toddlers are straw cups and open cups! Sippy cups are not recommended. Keep reading to find out why!

It is typically recommended to introduce a cup around 6 months of age and when baby can sit up mostly on their own. Starting to introduce a cup around this young age is a good idea because you should aim to transition baby completely off the bottle around age 1. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting the weaning process by 12 months and completely stopping bottle use by 15 months.

I know this can seem daunting, but many little ones do quite well with this transition, especially if you start early. Honestly, the earlier the better! The older they are, the more difficult it may be. Toddlers are known for being opinionated… But you can (and will!) still make this happen.

If you have started solids already, you can offer your baby a small amount of water

Why Sippy Cups are Not Recommended

Traditional sippy cups with a rectangular spout are not recommended. They are basically the same as bottles, so you really are not advancing your child in any way by using them. They use the same oral motor patterns used for bottle feeding and prevent baby from developing a mature swallow pattern.

sippy cup

Sippy cups with a hard spout are the worst choice, but even sippy cups with a soft spout aren’t much better. Sippy cups were invented for parent convenience, not with child development in mind! Preventing messes is key for many parents (and trust me, I get that!), but there are other spill-proof options.

Skip the sippy and go for a regular cup that even an adult could use. Straw cups and open cups are great options! Keep reading for my favorite recommendations!

What Cup Should I Give My Baby or Toddler?

The ideal type of cup to start with is an open cup! Yes, I know this sounds messy. But you can start with just a little bit of water to avoid a big mess. Learning how to drink from an open cup is a necessary life skill that baby will have to eventually learn. Will it take a while for them to master this skill? Sure it will. But the earlier they start, the faster they will catch on!

For tips on this transition, check out our article Teaching How to Drink from an Open Cup.

The Best Open Cups for Babies

My favorite open cup for babies is the Tiny Cup from Ezpz. It was created by a speech therapist with proper oral motor development in mind. It’s the perfect size for baby’s mouth and little hands. It has a weighted bottom, making it harder to tip over. It only holds 2oz, so even if you fill it up, a 2oz spill isn’t so bad! Start with small sips of water and then let baby try to be independent with this little cup!

ezpz Tiny Cup (Gray) - 100% Silicone Training Cup for Infants - 4 months + - Designed by a Pediatric Feeding Specialist - Baby-led Weaning Essentials & Baby Gifts

I also really love the Olababy Silicone Training Cup. It’s a little bigger and it has a rimmed bottom which makes it stay upright quite well. The material is very comfortable on baby’s teeth to learn with.

Olababy Silicone Training Cup | Water Drinking Cup For Babies | 6+ Mo Infant To 12-18 Months Toddler | Transition To Sippy Cup For Kids & Smoothie Cup With Straw | Baby Led Weaning Supplies & Gifts

The Best Open Cups for Toddlers

Ezpz also makes a Mini Cup that is designed for toddlers. It’s a little bigger than the Tiny Cup (4ozs), but generally is the same design. This is one of my favorite toddler cups!

ezpz Mini Cup (Gray) - 100% Silicone Cup for Toddlers - Designed by a Pediatric Feeding Specialist - 12 Months+

If you prefer a cup with handles, Green Sprouts makes a 4oz silicone cup with handles that is easy for your baby or toddler to hold.

green sprouts Learning Cup | Silicone helps avoid harmful chemicals | Helps toddler develop independent drinking skills, 2 easy-grip handles, Heat-Resistant, Dishwasher Safe

Slow Flow Open Cups

If your little one is coughing with the open cup or just spilling a lot, you can always try a slower flow. Hang onto your water cup from Starbucks, the lid with the small opening is great for slow flow open cup practice! And if you want a reusable option specially made for kids, try the following.

The Grabease Spoutless Sippy Cup is my favorite slow flow open cup for little babies. It’s small (4ozs) so it’s easy for little hands to hold. It also comes with the option to use a straw as well as a 1.5oz mini cup for even more open cup practice with a small amount of water.

Grabeae Toddler Cup Training Cup for Babies Toddler Sippy Cups Baby Feeding, BPA-Free & Phthalate-Free for Baby & Toddler, 4-oz, Gray

If you’re worried your child may too easily be able to remove the silicone top, the lid on these Munchkin Toddler Splash Cups are much more difficult to remove. This is key for curious toddlers! I love these cups because when you do decide to ditch the lids, they make great little open cups for little ones to use into childhood.

Munchkin® Splash™ Open Toddler Cups with Training Lids, 7 Ounce, Multicolored, 4 Pack

For older toddlers and kids, the Reflo Smart Cup is a unique option. The cup has a free-flow insert which significantly slows down the flow, but allows your child to drink from any part of the rim of the cup. These cups are 6ozs so if you need a cup that holds more liquid, this is a great option!

Reflo Smart Cup (Blue & Green 2-Pack) Open Training Cup, Toddler Cup, No Suction 6oz, 360 Control-Flow, USA MADE Premium High-Impact Plastic

Another option to slow down the flow is to offer a thicker liquid! When your child is first learning to drink from an open cup, starting with thicker liquids such as smoothies can help give them a little extra time to coordinate their swallow. This can help to reduce spills and coughing.

Other Sippy Cup Alternatives

The next best thing to an open cup is a straw cup. Straw cups are a great sippy cup alternative because they can easily be taken on the go with minimal to no spillage.

Babies can usually learn to drink from a straw around 6 months of age. If you need help teaching baby, check out our article Teaching Straw Drinking. Once baby learns how to drink from a straw consistently, they are ready for an on-the-go straw cup that can be closed to prevent spillage. When you have young children, I know that spill-free is a where you want to be…

When you do offer straw cups, make sure the straw is not too long. If baby sticks the straw far into their mouth, they will be using a suckling pattern to drink, similar to how they drink from a bottle. Once baby has mastered straw drinking, slowly snip the straw over the course of a week or two until the straw’s tip ends right in front of their tongue (rather than on top of it). This will promote a more mature swallow pattern.

Best Straw Cups for Babies and Toddlers

If you are just starting to teach your baby to drink from a straw, the ever-popular Honey Bear cup is the best option on the market in my opinion. The key feature of this cup is that it is squeezable! This makes it super easy to teach straw drinking. You can close the lid on the cup take it on the go. And it even comes with a few replacement straws. To read more about how to properly use squeezable straw cups, click here to read our article!

Special Supplies Honey Bear Straw Cup Long Straws, Squeezable Therapy and Special Needs Assistive Drink Container, Spill Proof and Leak Resistant Lid (Pack of 1 Bottle and 3 Straws)

My hands down all around favorite straw cup for older babies and toddlers is the Thermos Funtainer. The straw is already quite short which the feeding therapist in me loves. It is also the best spill-proof of all the straw cups I have tried (which is a lot!) and the mom in me loves this more than anything! It’s affordable, easy to find, and comes in more colors and designs than pretty much any other cup out there. Finding a cup with your child’s favorite character on it can be a secret weapon for the parent trying to encourage a cup to get off the bottle or drink more water.

THERMOS FUNTAINER Water Bottle with Straw - 12 Ounce, Blue/Green - Kids Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle with Lid

An option very similar to the Funtainer cup, is the Snug Kids Water Bottle. They have some really cute designs and this cup comes in a 12oz and even a 17oz straw cup, which is a hard size to find! A bigger cup is great if you have an older toddler and are going out for the day. The only thing this cup is lacking compared to the Funtainer is a handle, which I have to admit I do miss when I’m carrying loads of kid’s item around. But otherwise, a great cup!

Snug Kids Water Bottle - insulated stainless steel thermos with straw (Girls/Boys) - Dinosaurs, 17oz

I also really like the Zoli BOT cup. It comes in two sizes, a small 6oz cup which is great for babies and a larger 10oz size intended for toddlers. I like how petite these cups are because they easily fit in a cup holder as well as a diaper bag, which is so convenient when you’re out and about. It has soft straw that is much shorter than a lot of other options out there. The Zoli BOT is known for having a slower flow compared to a lot of other straw cups, making it a favorite among feeding therapists.

Any angle straw sippy cup | ZoLi BOT 2.0 weighted straw sippy copper rust burnt orange, most loved training sippy cup, toddler transition straw cup, sippy cup with handles

B.Box is another favorite of mine. It’s 8ozs, has a soft silicone straw and comes in a wide variety of color options. The weighted straw makes it easier for younger children to drink from at any angle. It’s a bit cheaper than some of the other straw cup options, but still a great cup. Sippy Cup with Fliptop Straw, Drink from any Angle | Weighted Straw, Spill Proof, Leak Proof & Easy Grip | BPA Free, Dishwasher safe | For Babies 6m+ to Toddlers (Apple, 8 oz)

If you’re on a tight budget, you can’t go wrong with the Munchkin Any Angle Straw Cup. This cup is sold everywhere–Amazon, Target, Walmart, and I have even seen it at TJ Maxx! It truly is a spill-proof cup which is a luxury for parents. This is the only cup I allow my young kids to bring to their rooms and into bed for this midnight drinking needs. Just make sure you click the top on properly into place! This can be a little tricky at first, but with a bit of practice you will have a great spill-proof option.

Munchkin® Any Angle™ Weighted Straw Trainer Cup with Click Lock™ Lid, 7 Ounce, Blue

Good luck with the bottle-to-cup transition! I know it can seem scary, but when you find the right cup it’s not so bad!

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