If your baby is just starting to try using a cup, you’ll know with first-hand experience how often those cups are likely to go flying and soak everything and everyone in the immediate vicinity.
The answer is simple – give your little one a sippy cup.
Sippy cups are designed to teach your baby or toddler how to use a big kid cup, with slightly less chance of throwing the water everywhere as most of them are leak proof.
When do babies drink from a sippy cup?
So, just how do you know when to use a baby sippy cup instead of a bottle or breast? Usually, if your little one is sitting up by themselves, and has started the weaning journey, then they are old enough to try using a cup. So, normally between six to 12 months is a good time to think about introducing one. It may take a while for your baby or toddler to get used to it, whether they have been feeding from the breast or bottle; but when it comes to how to transition baby to sippy cup, practice and perseverance are what’s key. You may find it easier to go from a bottle to cup as your child will have grown used to holding the bottle.
As with anything, the sooner you introduce the item to your baby, the sooner they’ll recognise it as part of everyday life – rather than introducing it all of a sudden to a toddler who’ll naturally treat it as suspicious and fling it across the room in distrust.
Sippy cup features:
There are various types of sippy cups available, each with different benefits to your child. For example your toddler may find it easier to use one with handles, or may take better to one without.
- Non-spill – ideal if you don’t want everything soaking wet within three seconds
- 360-degree design – rather than having a spout or one opening, these can be sipped from any angle around the edge
- With or without handles
- BPA-free – always choose a cup that doesn’t include these nasties
- With or without a spout
Our pick of the best sippy cups
Whether you're looking for a baby training cup or toddler sippy cups, here's our top picks...
Available in a range of bright neon colours, in different sizes - and you can also buy a version with handles, too. It doesn't feature a spout, but instead you can drink from 360-degrees around the top, from any angle. The seal closes when your child finishes drinking, with no spills - however, it can spill if it gets knocked over or from a high chair, so beware that it's not completely spill-free.
It was Shortlisted in the 2016 M&B Awards Innovation of the Year category.
Tested by mum Tracey Hanson and Evan (2 years old): "Evan is autistic so has struggled with other trainer cups, but we thought we’d give the Munchkin 360 Sippy Cup a try, after it was recommended by a speech therapist. My first impression was that the cup looked grown up, something we wanted for Evan so he could feel like a big boy with no spills. Unlike other products on the market, the cup didn’t leak and Evan took to it straight away. We have already recommended the cup to other parents with autistic children – thank you Munchkin!"
Read our full review of the Munchkin 360 Sippy Cup here
And here's the version with handles! This baby trainer cup features the same 360-degree technology as the version without handles, designed to reduce spillages and enable your little one to drink from any angle.
It won Silver in the 2016 M&B Awards Best Weaning Product category.
Tested by mum Carly Surman for the M&B Awards 2016: "Over the past nine months I have tried many cups and sippy cups to get my son to drink more fluids. However, after trying endless cups we've had great success with this, it's fantastic! Once he grasped how to use it, he was away. He seemed to drink his usual daily intake in one gulp! The design of this cup is amazing."
Read our full review of the Munchkin Miracle 360 Degree Trainer Cup here
Not just a sippy cup, but also a nightlight - this dual-purpose cup is great if you like to leave some water for your little one to reach in their room during the night, and saves the need for an additional nightlight plugged in to the sockets. The light isn't too bright, but obviously some children might not like having a nightlight so it's not for everyone. It's battery powered (obviously) and comes in a wide range of bright colours to choose from. It's also BPA free.
The Litecup Sippy Cup + Nightlight was Shortlisted in the 2015 M&B Awards Best Sleep Product.
Review: "These cups are amazing. My two children have now grown out of sippy cups but still need night-time drinks in their rooms. These allow them to have the drinks, to find them easily with the lights, and to not have to worry about any spills. They are also brilliant as they are energy-efficient - they are light sensitive and switch off during the day. Will definitely be buying them again."
With sturdy handles for little ones to hold on to, and a 360-degree opening so your toddler can sip from any angle, this basic sippy cup is useful for children learning to use a cup for the first time.
Our panel of mum testers said this cup could be used daily for little ones, but we did notice it leaked a little if it was being bashed around.
Tested by mum Jennifer, who said: 'My daughter uses this all the time! It has replaced her main water bottle. No spill makes it so easy to take out and about and I have no fear of it leaking in the house as she is very independent and likes to have her drink available for her whenever she needs it.'
Read our full review by our panel of mums here
Featuring an eye-catching design, easy grip handles and spill proof teat, this sippy cup impressed our mum testers. One standout feature is the measurements up the side of the cup, allowing you to keep track of your baby’s fluid intake throughout the day. The soft silicone spout helps with the transition from breast or bottle, and the small handles are designed for small hands. A great transitional cup option.
This won Bronze in the 2018 M&B Awards Best Weaning Product category.
Tested by mum Mhari Kerr for the Mother & Baby awards 2018: "This bottle allows babies to drink for themselves and is very trustworthy. In my experience, the liquid stays securely inside and there have been no disasters. Also, it is easy for little hands to hold, plus it’s easy to clean! The design is very nice, it is more interesting than a regular, plain sippy cup. The bottle has ounces written on the side so you can keep track of how much fluid baby is taking, which is very handy."
Read our full review of the MAM Trainer Bottle here
One of the unique selling points of this cup is that the handles are removeable, making it easy to clean - although our panel of testers did find it quite hard to clean underneath the spout. The spout is made from soft silicone, and has a cap to prevent spilling when it's in a bag.
This sippy cup was Shortlisted in the 2018 M&B Awards Best Bottle Feeding Product category.
Tested by mum Katharine Forsythe for the Mother & Baby Awards 2018: "This is a great little cup, it’s funky, a handy size and hygienic to drink out and about. The cup is easy to assemble and disassemble for washing as well. I have had lots of cups for my three children and I think this is one of my favourite toddler cups!"
Read our full review of the OXO Tot Soft Spout Sippy Cup here
If you want your little one to try using a straw, this cup is a good way to introduce the concept. The straw is weighted so that even when the cup is tipped up, the straw will remain in the drink. The tight-fit click top lid means it's good for travelling, although the flip-top straw cap does come off quite easily. It also comes with a nifty straw-sized cleaning brush.
This was shortlisted in both the 2015 and 2016 M&B Awards Best Weaning Product category.
Tested by mum Amanda White for the M&B Awards 2016: "I LOVED this product, as did my 7 month old son. It truly is non spill, feels very durable. The weighted straw is fabulous and means that little ones will always be able to drink, regardless of how they're holding the cup."
Read our full review of the Munchkin Click Lock Tip and Sip Cup here
The spill proof seal of the Nuby 360 Maxi Cup is a genius idea. The cup is convenient to clean as you can disassemble it and clean the different parts separately, before easily slotting them back together. A great choice for weaning!
It was Shortlisted in the 2018 M&B Awards in Best Weaning Product category.
Tested by mum Monica Patarro: "We chose to do baby lead weaning and I wanted to avoid him spilling all his water out from a regular cup, so this leak free 360 cup was perfect. Now there is no more mess when drinking water on his own, so I can give him the cup and not worry about it leaking. Also, it is so easy to dismantle and clean in parts, only takes a couple of minutes!"
Read our full review of the Nuby 360° Maxi Cup here.
The clever two-piece, non-spill valve prevents unwanted spills and mess when you are out and about or at home. Plus the big handles are really easy for little hands to hang on to even one handed. As your little one gets more confident with their tipping and sipping drinking skills, it’s easy to remove the handles and non-spill valve to encourage them to hold the cup and practise free-flow drinking, which can help their oral development. The soft spout on this cup is smooth and gentle on gums, even when your baby is teething. All the cups are dishwasher safe if placed on the top shelf and can be steam sterilised, making things a little bit easier for you too. A range of colours and designs are available.
Reviewed by mum, Jade: "Perfect. Just what I needed for my 6-month-old to help them learn how to drink from something other than a bottle. Non spill too which is a bonus as the beaker I got him from 4 months + isn’t and he likes to hold that over the side of his tray when my back is turned and pour the water on the floor."
The pros and cons of sippy cups
The NHS advises against the use of sippy cups, based on their requiring the child to suck, similar to a bottle; it recommends a free-flowing cup instead.
Using a free-flow cup instead will encourage the sipping action, rather than sucking. This is important for muscle and jaw development. Free-flow cups also allow the liquid to move to the back of the mouth, rather than pooling around the front teeth.
Sippy cups are great if you’re trying to minimise mess, but consider their use as a short-term solution, and intersperse their use with free-flow cups. You could use your sippy cup just for when you’re travelling out and about, rather than in the home.
Top tips for how to introduce a sippy cup
- Choose a familiar drink: to start introducing a sippy cup to your baby or toddler, use only milk or water. They are familiar liquids and are the best ones for your little one’s teeth and health.
- Go slowly: it’s a strange sensation to go from breast or bottle to a sippy cup, so naturally it will take time and practice before your child is confident. Go slowly and help them grow used to the cup, and with time it’ll become a natural technique eventually.
- Build confidence: if your little one wants to grab the cup for themselves, let them try, with your assistance. It’s a great way to inspire confidence and independence.
- Variety is key: swap your sippy cup out for a normal cup too, to grow your little one’s experiences with both types of cup. This will make the transition to a free-flow cup easier.
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