The Best Transition Sippy Cup Review

Transition sippy cups can help babies feel independent and keep parents free of spills
Looking for the perfect transition sippy cup for your baby? Once your infant starts solids, it is important for them to begin drinking some water as well. This will most likely prompt the search for the perfect cup to serve as a transition from bottles, and/or breast-feeding, into the world of leak-free cups. We looked at 32 competing cups, designed for babies age 4 to 9 month old, and narrowed it down to 14 cream of the crop cups (say that three times fast!) for testing and review. The transition cups were tested for ease of use, ease of cleaning, leakage, and eco-health. Most cups had similar designs, but a few earned favor for being unique or for eco-healthy materials. In the end, our scoring metrics, and cadre of tiny testers, determined which cups stood out from the competition.

Read the full review below >

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 14 << Previous | View All | Next >>

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz

Last Updated:
Tuesday
September 2, 2014

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Best Overall Transition Sippy


Pura Kiki Stainless Sippy


Pura Kiki Stainless Steel Sippy 5 ounces Editors' Choice Award

$19.99
(13% off)
at Amazon
See It

The Pura Kiki Stainless Sippy won the coveted Editors' Choice Award. The Pura Kiki is a good transition cup choice for parents worried about the eco-healthy properties of their child's cup, as well as, parents who used the cup for a bottle when baby was younger. This cup not only scored the highest out of all the transition cups we tested, it also won high regard for using stainless steel; a material generally considered safer than most of the transition competition. The stainless steel body does not leach chemicals, and its narrow silhouette makes it easier for little hands to hold, while the silicone sleeve helps prevent dropping, and it fits in almost all cup holders. In addition, we felt the silicone mouthpiece was similar to the bottle nipple, and required similar suckling styles that babies would be familiar with. The only problem we had with this cup, was the overall weight when full. It might be difficult for smaller or weaker babies to hold without dropping on their faces, which would not be fun for parent or baby.

Read Full Review: Pura Kiki Stainless Sippy

Best on a Budget


Gerber Graduates Sip & Smile


NUK's Newest Version: Gerber Graduates Fun Grips Soft Spout Trainer. We found the newer version to be even easier to drink from and more leak resistant than their prior version Sip and Smile. Best Value Award

$4.14 each (in 2-pack)
(41% off)
at Amazon
See It

Our Best Value Award went to the Gerber Graduates Sip & Smile. This is an economical product, that is easy to find in most stores. It was one of the lightest transition cups we tested, and the mouthpiece was easy to drink from; it might be a good option for children who have difficult sucking. However, the mouthpiece was stiffer than the silicone nozzle used in the Pura Kiki, which means it might be more likely to cause injury if a child fell with it in their mouth. The main drawback of this cup, is that it is made of plastic. In order to avoid the potential for possible increased leaching, that can happen when plastics are exposed to heat, parents should consider washing the cup, and its components, in warm soapy water by hand. For ease of cleaning it ranked fairly high, because it was easy to assemble and had very few parts to clean. This cup is a good option for travel, given its cheaper than average price, you aren't going to feel too badly if you lose it.

Read Full Review: Gerber Graduates Sip & Smile

Best Insulated Transition Sippy


Thermos Foogo Phase I Insulated


Thermos Foogo Phase I Insulated Top Pick Award

$13.59
(20% off)
at Amazon
See It

The Thermos Foogo Phase 1 Insulated is a great insulated cup for parents concerned about eco-health, who might also be looking for the ability to retain the temperature of liquids in the cup. This cup had a great eco-health score, and was fairly easy to use and clean, making it a good all-around cup. The main drawback to this cup was similar to the Pura Kiki, in that it was heavier than most of the other cups we tested, and it might be hard to hold for longer periods. However, unlike the Kiki, it did have handles that made it slightly easier on baby overall.

Read Full Review: Thermos Foogo Phase 1 Insulated

Honorable Mentions



Tommee Tippee First Sips


Tommee Tippee transition sippy lid is interchangeable with the bottle lid in this line
Tommee Tippee transition sippy lid is interchangeable with the bottle lid in this line
The Tommee Tippee First Sips is a good transition choice for parents that used the Tommee Tippee line of bottles, or for the baby who prefers a squatter, more rounded cup. The Tommee Tippie actually scored second place in our tests overall, but failed to earn an award simply because it wasn't as cheap as some of the other cups we tested. This cup was easy to use, easy to clean, and scored above average for eco-health and ease of cleaning.

While this cup might not have been as cheap as the Gerber Graduates Sip & Smile, it did prove it was a real contender by scoring higher than the Sip & Smile, and it still had a better than average price, compared to the other transition cups we tested. This cup is easy to find online and in stores.

Read Full Review: Tommee Tippee First Sips

thinkbaby


thinkbaby transition sippy
thinkbaby transition sippy
thinkbaby The Sippy Cup Stage C is a nice plastic cup for parents looking for a lighter weight cup, but also want more information on what the cup is made of. Unlike the other plastic cups we tested, the thinkbaby plastic transition cup offers a lot of information on the company website about what is not found in their plastics. So while they don't say exactly what is in their plastic, parents looking for a plastic cup might just feel warmer and fuzzier knowing that this company is considering the notion that other plastics besides BPA can be harmful, and they are trying to do something about it. The thinkbaby was a leak-proof cup, that was easy to clean and fairly easy to use. Plus, it had a fairly high eco-health score for a plastic cup.

Read Full Review: thinkbaby The Sippy Cup Stage C

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
83
$23
Editors' Choice Award
Worth the higher price, healthy materials, easy to use and clean
80
$12
Nice plastic cup that works well and never leaked
79
$7
Best Value Award
Great sippy cup for an economic price
70
$17
Top Pick Award
Nice insulated stainless steel cup, but a little on the heavy side
69
$9
High-scoring with a nod to eco-health, but difficult drinking
65
$15
Interesting design, hard to use
63
$8
Interesting handle design that was easy to clean but hard to drink from
62
$6
Lightweight economical cup that was difficult to drink from
60
$9
Not a bad cup, but all things being equal we prefer its stainless steel brother
60
$8
Uninspired low scoring cup, might be okay for AVENT bottle users
59
$4
Uninsipired plastic sippy with harder to drink from valve
58
$4
Economical, ordinary cup but difficult drinking
58
$4
Simple basic sippy, that would be nice if it were easier to drink from
57
$7
Could have been a good cup if it had the old valve style

Analysis and Test Results


If the sheer volume of available baby products for your little one hasn't already sent your mind spinning, finding the right sippy cup just might be the moment you scream "uncle!" There are so many cups, that the task of choosing a good one may seem daunting. Choosing cups at random, just to get out of the store, often leads to disappointment once you get home and try them out. The cheapest, most colorful, or well-known brand name maybe tempting, but they may not be the best choice in the end.

The name "Transition Cup" refers to the age period from 4 to 9 months, when a baby will be ready to transition from strictly bottle and/or breast feeding, to using a cup. Spills are an issue, so most parents prefer to use some kind of spill-resistant cup. As we will detail in this review, and cover more fully in our corresponding article, How to Find the Best Transition Sippy, the world of Leak-Free Cups is divided into stages for three different age groups. In this review, we focus on the Transition cups, the youngest age tier.

Types of Sippy Cups


The original leak-free cup was created by an engineer named Richard Belanger. He was tired of cleaning up after his baby who was just learning to use an ordinary cup properly, and was suffering from the same pitfalls all babies have suffered from throughout time, they all spill their cups. What might surprise you, is he invented the cup in 1988, which really wasn't that long ago (or are we dating ourselves?).

Belanger created a simple cup with a valve that prevented the back flow of liquid, and thereby helped the cup avoid spilling its contents when not used properly. At first, the family just ran and created the cups themselves, but in time, Belanger was able to sell his idea to Playtex, and the no-leak cup was officially born sometime in the early 90s.

While the leak-free cup of yore may not be exactly like the cups, or transition cups we use today, it certainly paved the way for the plethora of products you now find lining the baby aisle shelves. We wonder if Belanger ever thought his simple leak-proof cup was going to make it this big.

All the Sippys a Stage


This photo shows a variety of transition sippy cups; note that Pura Kiki (pink sippy on right) is pictured here with silicone nipple. For transitioning  either a softer Pura Original Spout or firmer blue XL Sipper Spout can is substituted.
A variety of Toddler Sippy Cups
Kids Water Bottle Review Contenders (Klean Kanteen Kid Sports Bottle not shown)
 
The photos above show Sippy cups of every stage. They are Transition cups, designed for age 4-9 mos (left), Toddler cups, for 9 mos to 3 years (middle), and Kid bottles, for 3-6 years (right.)

No leak cups are categorized by different developmental stages defined by age ranges. The features of the cup consider the developmental factors related to each age grouping. Following the suggested age range for each cup can aid parents in locating the right kind of cup stage their little one falls into.

Transition Cups
Tommee Tippee is a good example of a transition sippy; smaller volume size  softer spout  dual handles  and debris cap. This brand has a transition sippy lid which is interchangeable their Closer to Nature bottle  Best Value award in our Best Baby Bottle Review.
Transition cups are geared toward babies 4 to 9 months of age; they typically include a soft spout to protect sensitive gums, two handles for easy grip, and are smaller so baby can easily hold and maneuver the cup.

Toddler Cups
Good example of a toddler sippy; larger volume  no handles  grip silicone sleeve  and harder spout.
Toddler cups aim to fit the needs of children 12 months to 3 years old. These cups feature soft and hard spouts, or straw mouthpieces. The cups normally have a contoured shape for easy gripping (most no longer sport handles), and they can hold between 7 to 11 ounces. Take a look at our review, Best Toddler Sippy Cups, to see our ratings of the 21 most popular, and highly rated leak-free cups on the market.

Kid Bottles
Typical kid water bottle; larger volume  straw spout  and clip loop.

Kid bottles are designed for on the go children from 3 to 6 years of age. These vessels feature even larger volume capabilities, of 10 to 15 ounces, and are often insulated for longer days at school, camp, and outdoor activities.

Sippy Cups of Any Stage

Sippy cups are not a requirement for teaching children to drink correctly from a cup. Some specialists even feel it can delay a child's ability or interest in using a real cup. Leak-free cups of any kind are merely a convenience, that we feel can serve a purpose when used in a limited thoughtful manner, that does not inhibit a child's natural desire to learn how to drink from an ordinary cup.

Hey, What's that Cup Made of? Focus on Materials


Pura Kiki is a nice stainless steel sippy option
Thermos Foogo Phase I Insulated
The Sip and Smile has a stiffer hard spout with what looks to be a soft silicone lining for baby's gums.
Lifefactory Glass Sippy with silicone sleeve and hard spout
 
Leak-free cups can be made from a wide variety of materials: plastics, stainless steel, glass, and silicone. Each kind of material has its own benefits and drawbacks. It is important to consider each material's individual attributes, before deciding which material is right for your child. You might have to look harder for the eco-healthier variety of cups, than some of the plastic cups we tested, but we feel the extra effort is worth it and not too difficult if you are able to order them online.

Plastic


The Nuby Click-It is a typical plastic transition sippy.
Plastic is relatively lightweight, especially compared to the other options we tested, this makes it easy for a little ones to pick up, carry around, and bring up to their mouths with relative ease. Plastic doesn't easily break like glass can, and it doesn't dent like stainless steel. Because of these nice attributes, the majority of transition cup bodies are made using BPA-free plastic, with a variety of mouthpiece types, and valves made from plastic, and/or silicone. Unfortunately, some studies suggest that even "BPA-free" plastics can have the potential to leach chemicals in a similar way to the old BPA plastic.

We've written an article on this topic you might be interested in, Are Plastics Safe for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups?

Stainless Steel


Pura Kiki is a stainless steel transition sippy that has internal volume gradations. There is zero plastic in this sippy cup.
Stainless Steel is certainly one of the heaviest options for transition cups, which might make it harder for very little ones to pick it up or use it immediately with ease, BUT it does NOT leach, break, shatter, or chip. These attributes made steel superior to plastic and glass. Stainless steel is usually easy to clean, and does not impart flavor to its contents. You can even feel good about putting it in the dishwasher unless it is painted.

Glass


Glass is an inert material that doesn't leach chemicals. Unfortunately, it is breakable, and heavier than plastic. To circumvent this flaw, manufacturers like Lifefactory, include a silicone sleeve with their glass cups to avoid injury to babies should the glass break. That being said, glass cups can, and will, eventually break, even with a silicone sleeve. So caution should be taken when using glass cups, and babies should never be left alone with them.

Silicone


The Pura has a silicone spout  inserts  and cap.
The jury is still out on the true safety of silicone. Some studies indicate that heat can cause silicone to deteriorate; so be aware that some cups include silicone in their mouthpieces or lids. For this reason, you should avoid putting them in the microwave and dishwasher.

Let's Talk Spouts


The transition mouthpiece designs are not as varied as that of the toddler cups, but there are still a few options to choose from. Most of the cups we tested in the transition category had soft spouts that were gentle on gums and an easier transition from bottle nipples.

Playtex soft spout and straw cup
Playtex soft spout and straw cup
Some of the transition cups had a stiffer spout, which usually had a thin layer of softer material surrounding it, so it was easier on gums. Harder spouts means increased chances for injury, because they do not "give" if a baby should fall on one while using it.

One of the transition cups we tested had a straw mouthpiece; this kind of mouthpiece was more common in the toddler cups than transition cups. Your dentist would likely prefer a straw cup as they decrease the amount of fluid that comes in direct contact with teeth. Although the straw cup in this transition review did not do well for ease of sucking, we still think straw type spouts are a good choice.

While we feel that the type of mouthpiece a transition cup has, and what it is made of, is important, we think that no matter which spout type you choose, that babies should always be encouraged to drink from ordinary cups whenever possible to gain important new skills.

A Word on Valves


The white plastic valve of the Gerber Sip and Smile can be seen here
The white plastic valve of the Gerber Sip and Smile can be seen here
Leak-free cups normally have a valve for the purpose of being leak-free. However, the American Dental Association recommends avoiding no-leak valves entirely. They feel that leak-free valve cups:
  • Encourage the same type of sucking action as nipples, which is not a necessary skill past infancy.
  • That leak-free cup use could lead to failure of opportunities to learn how to master the sipping and holding skills necessary to use an ordinary cup.
  • Parents might increase the amount of sugary/carbohydrate liquids that children are offered in a day because the cups do not leak, which could result in dental decay.

In fact, the ADA suggests parents use leak-free cups only for a short duration, that they us cups without valves, and that parent encourage children to master the skill of controlled drinking from a real cup as soon as possible and then discontinue the product.

Sticking with a straw cup eliminates the issue of valves. They also reduce the amount of fluid that comes into contact with teeth, and they typically come with a lid that seals up the straw opening when the cup is not in use.

Safety First

The Sip and Smile has a stiffer hard spout with what looks to be a soft silicone lining for baby's gums.
The Sip and Smile has a stiffer hard spout with what looks to be a soft silicone lining for baby's gums.
First, be aware that no leak cups can present a potential hazard to babies just learning to toddle about . Cups should never be used while an infant is moving. Research indicates that a child enters the emergency room every 4 hours, on average, with a product related injury from improper cup use; lacerations to the face or palate are the primary injury reported. In fact, between 1991 and 2010, an incidence of 45,000 pediatric injuries presented to ERs as a result of sippy cup use, typically oral lacerations. So be careful when using leak-free cups, follow safe practice directions, and the ADA guidelines below.

Best Practices


The following are best practices for leak-free cup use, as directed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Dental Association (ADA):
Babies should be seated when using a sippy cup to avoid potential injury
Babies should be seated when using a sippy cup to avoid potential injury
  • Sippy cups are a tool to help young toddlers eventually transition to a regular cup. They are not meant to be used longterm. As such, it is recommended to offer children a real cup when possible to help them gain the skills necessary to transition permanently.
  • To avoid problems with dental decay and dentition formation, children should utilize leak-free cups for short, defined periods, like during a snack or mealtime.
  • To avoid injury, children should be stationary, sitting at a table, when using a cup.

Criteria for Evaluation


We considered several metrics while testing and evaluating each transition cup. Our primary categories were ease of use, leakage, ease of cleaning, and eco-health. These categories were further broken down into components relevant to the overall metric.


Ease of Use


Cups must be easy to use, or your child won't be interested in it. Some of the cups we tested were hard to drink from for adults so we can only imagine the difficulty a child might encounter. In-house testers were drawn to specific cups based on looks, shape, and texture, but if the cup was hard to drink from the babies quickly moved on to easier options, or grew frustrated. In general, the babies preferred cups they could easily hold, were fairly light weight, and were easy to drink from. While ease of cleaning, eco-healthy, or leakage might be important to parents, if a baby couldn't get the cup to work, or it was hard to hold, then it wasn't going to be used no matter how much the parents liked it.


The cups below were a few of the most difficult transition cups to use; each earned only a 3 of 10 for this metric. The Nuk Learner Cup, The Playtex Training Time Straw Cup, and Lansinoh mOmma.
NUK Learner Cup
Playtex Training Time Straw Cup
 

Leakage


The one thing you don't want in a transition sippy cup is leaks. If leaking were the goal, you could just hand that baby a regular cup and let party start. On the go babies and parents look to leak-proof cups to give them the freedom of hydration, without the frustration and hassle of spills. Whether the cup is in your diaper bag, on the couch, or bobbing around the backseat of your car, everyone wants a cup that doesn't leak. Even if the leaking liquid won't stain, they might leave a bad smell, merit a quick clean up, or end with a thirsty child who has nothing to drink. We felt the most important metric was leakage, and if a cup did leak, by how much.


Given this, we tested each cup for its tendency to leak. The cups were put through several leak tests in an effort to illicit possible leaking. The tests helped us to determine which transition cups could hold their liquid, and which could not.

Ease of Cleaning


For the most part  the more parts a cup had  the harder it was to clean
For the most part, the more parts a cup had, the harder it was to clean
If a cup wasn't easy to clean, or take apart and re-assemble, then parents aren't going to want to use it; eventually it will end up in the back of the cupboard or a donation bin. We'd all love to think that the only thing that matters is whether or not the baby likes the cup, but honestly, if you hate using it, baby will never even see it. Convenience is paramount for most things in parenting; there is no reason to make life harder than it needs to be. This is why we feel it is important to find products that are easy to clean, as well as use.


Unlike the toddler cups, which varied more widely, most of the transitional cups had similar number of parts and assembly. However, the amount of time to assemble the parts varied. While most of the cups only required a basic bottle brush to clean, an item we assume most parents have at least one of, some needed a straw brush to ensure proper cleaning. Lower scores were given to the cups that required more cleaning tools, or that took longer to take apart or assemble.

Eco-Health


Eco-health is a very important category to us here at BabyGearLab. We feel that your baby will come in contact with loads of chemicals during their developmental years that could have a negative impact to their sensitive developing systems. Therefore, we feel it is important to limit as many harmful or unknown chemicals and components as you can. Considering the importance of this, we gave higher marks to the cups made from inert materials, like stainless steel and glass.


The leak-proof cups we tested in the transition category were all made from either plastic or stainless steel. The mouthpieces, lids, and valves were typically composed of either plastic, silicone, or some combination of the two. We reviewed some of this in our What is that Cup Made of section above, but please review our How to find the Best Transition Sippy article and our Are Plastics Safe for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups?.

This Thermos transition sippy was one of the few insulated cups in the transition category
This Thermos transition sippy was one of the few insulated cups in the transition category
In addition to what the cups were made of, the cups earned points for being insulated which helped keep the cup's contents fresher, and less likely to spoil by retaining a cooler temperature for a longer period of time.

Transition cups also gained points for adhering closer to the ADA guideline of not having a valve, or if there was a valve, then the least amount of required sucking the better. The one straw cup in this review, Playtex Straw Cup, also had a valve, so it did not qualify strictly as a straw cup; a "spout" type the ADA likes better than other styles.

Conclusion


This photo shows a variety of transition sippy cups; note that Pura Kiki (pink sippy on right) is pictured here with silicone nipple. For transitioning  either a softer Pura Original Spout or firmer blue XL Sipper Spout can is substituted.
This photo shows a variety of transition sippy cups; note that Pura Kiki (pink sippy on right) is pictured here with silicone nipple. For transitioning, either a softer Pura Original Spout or firmer blue XL Sipper Spout can is substituted.
With such a wide variety of transition cups out there, finding one that work well without being a hassle to clean or use can be difficult. Depending on what criteria is most important to you, weather it be functionality, eco-health, convenience, or price, we are sure that at least one of our top scoring cups will fill the needs of parent and baby.
Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz

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