A sippy cup is an indispensable baby and toddler product, and there's a glut of options on the market — so many that it can be hard to know where to begin. To help you hone in on a sippy cup that will work best for your little one, I've rounded up Circle of Moms members' views on the five most important features to consider, and their sippy cup recommendations — as well as my own.
1. Variable-Flow Nipple Versus Spout
When your baby is first learning to use a sippy cup, the ability to control flow can be helpful. The majority of moms discussing this issue in Circle of Moms communities recommend flow-control nipples for first-timers. Avent is the most highly recommended brand, though Jessica G. says her baby doesn't want to work as hard as this cup requires. (Because this cup is also spill proof, babies have to suck to get the liquid flowing.) Once your baby has mastered the nipple, many moms recommend keeping the same cup, but moving on to the spout top, which helps develop greater motor control.
Available at Avent, $8
2. Hard Versus Soft Spout
Some sippy cups come with interchangeable soft and hard spouts, including Avent's. Alycia D.'s son switched from a bottle to the soft, rubber spouted Avent cup at 10 months, and she likes both that he only has to suck once to get the liquid flowing and that the cup is spill-proof. (Members who use the Avent sippy cups recommend waiting until a child has nearly a full set of teeth to switch to the hard spouts, as they can hurt the gums.) Several moms prefer Playtex sippy cups, which have a soft spout. Kim S.'s eight-and-a-half-month-old twins find them easy to use — and they're cheaper than the Avent line.
Available at Amazon.com, $4.10
3. Cups With Straws
Love 'em or hate 'em seems to be the verdict on sippy ups with straws. Silicone straws are fine for babies without many teeth, but they require harder sucking, which some babies find difficult to master, says Sara M. Over the age of one, harder straws are fine, and they're easier to use. Elizabeth H. prefers the Nuk brand of cups with straws, but didn't start her kids on them until age two. Other moms say that the Nuks spill more readily than other brands and that kids who are inclined to throw cups or intentionally spill can make a big mess with these.
Available at Amazon.com, $5.30
4. Wide Versus Narrow Mouth
Several sippy cup brands have narrow tops that mimic the shape of a baby bottle, and this is another feature that divides opinion. While some moms prefer narrow mouth sippy cups for young babies because the transition from the bottle is eased by the familiar shape, others say it's not different enough to feel like progress towards a regular cup. Jessica G., who falls into the latter camp, likes Nuby's nipple-top sippy cups because of their wide mouths, which make it easier for her to pour in liquids. (She also likes that her daughter will be able to transition to the spout-top when she's ready without having to purchase a whole new cup.)
Available at Diapers.com, $5 and up
5. Easy-To-Clean Versus Multiple Pieces
The construction of a sippy cup can make it easy or difficult to clean, with the more complex designs causing moms to regret their purchases. Some say the more parts a cup has, the more likely it is to leak. Jesseli V.'s Born Free sippy cup has multiple parts, which makes it more time-consuming to clean (with lots of nooks and crannies), but she says it is leakproof. Simpler cups are a breeze to clean, but often leak, especially if there is no inner seal. (Personally I prefer spending a little extra time on the cleaning process in exchange for a more leak-proof cup.)
Available at Amazon.com, $10
Your baby, of course, will provide the ultimate test of whether a sippy cup works. I recommend buying a few different popular brands and letting your baby be the judge.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.