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11 best toddler cups and beakers for learning to drink independently

Ease their transition to grown-up cups (without the mess) with these bottles and beakers

Danielle Wilkins
Friday 16 December 2022 12:39 GMT
We trialled more than 20 sippy cups, considering design, leak- and spill-proofing and ease of cleaning
We trialled more than 20 sippy cups, considering design, leak- and spill-proofing and ease of cleaning (The Independent)
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It doesn’t matter how many parenting books you read, how many IG accounts you follow or how much time you spend Googling at 3am, there will always be elements of parenthood that feel overwhelming. And the highs and lows of weaning your baby for the first time is certainly up there.

But, as well as teaching them how to eat, you’ll need to help them make the transition from breast or bottle by teaching them how to drink from a cup, too.

Appropriately sized open or free-flow cups are preferred by health experts because sipping from an open cup is better for their teeth, develops fine motor skills, and encourages children to practice their swallowing skills by developing their lip, jaw, and tongue movements. However, open cups aren’t always the practical choice, which is why there are a wealth of options out there to use in the transitional phase to help lessen the stress (and mess!).

From straw cups to spill-free 360 cups, beakers to sippy models – even insulated bottles – there’s a huge variety to choose from. Note that most will have a recommended age range to guide you, however, the ideal time to introduce a cup is generally around six months when your baby starts enjoying solids.

Like everything, some children will take to it quicker than others and you’ll probably find that most won’t be able to drink solo without spilling until at least one year of age. However, there’s no harm in letting them practice earlier and you might want to test a variety of designs before you find one that works for your tot.

How we tested

Our mini testers, aged between six months and three-and-a-half years old, trialled more than 20 cups over the course of six weeks, after which we selected our favourites. As well as looking at how much the children enjoyed using them, we zeroed in on the design and materials, how easy they were to clean (and how well the cups washed up after multiple uses), whether they were leak and spill-proof, plus any particularly fun or special features. We also considered how well each cup fared in terms of oral and dental development.

The best toddler cups for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Tommee Tippee style superstar sportee insulated water bottle: £5.99, Tommeetippee.com
  • Best for learning to sip – Bickiepegs doidy cup: £4, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk
  • Best starter cup for night-time – Mam starter cup night: £8.50, Mambaby.com
  • Best for verstaility – Bubs cup set: £10.95, Bibsworld.com
  • Best straw cup – Beaba straw cup: £10, Beaba.co.uk
  • Best eco-freindly cup – Bamboo Bamboo open cup: £10.99, Mamasandpapas.com
  • Best for cute designs – Sebra melamine sippy cup: £9, Scandiborn.co.uk
  • Best easy-grip open cup – Kidly Label drinking cups: £15, Kidly.co.uk
  • Best for convenience – Dr Brown’s milestones cheers 360 cup: £7.99, Babycentral.co.uk
  • Best multi-purpose design – One Green baby bottle set: £28, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk
  • Best for older toddlers – Oyoy living design mellow cups: £18.75, Oyoylivingdesign.co.uk

Tommee Tippee style superstar sportee insulated water bottle

best toddler cups
  • Best: Overall
  • Capacity: 266ml
  • Spill-free: Yes

If you’re looking for a reliable toddler bottle that’s durable, affordable, and seriously watertight, Tommee Tippee has the answer with its sportee insulated water bottle. Recommended for children aged 12 months and above, the ergonomic design comes with a hard, bite-resistant sippy cap that gently encourages tipping and sipping without the mess, and a dust cover/lid, so it’s great for family outings and trips to the park.

We let our three-year-old have fun testing this one – by which we mean we let them shake it around as much as they liked and not a drop of liquid was spilled, all thanks to the unique valve design that both seals and regulates the flow of liquid. The bottle design is double wall insulted, too, so it means cold drinks are kept cool, while our tester’s parents found it easy to clean, whether that was popping it into the dishwasher every night or into their younger sibling’s steriliser. We also loved that it held a decent amount of liquid – the perfect amount for older tots. A great product at a great price point, and it comes in a range of colours and prints.

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Bickiepegs doidy cup

best toddler cups
  • Best: For learning to sip
  • Capacity : 200ml
  • Spill-free: No

Suitable from six months, this cleverly designed, two-handle cup is the perfect starting point for parents who want to encourage sipping from an open cup. The slanted design means toddlers don’t have to tip the cup up quite as much, giving them more control and reducing accidental spills in the process. It’s made from food-safe plastic, is light and easy to hold, plus it’s dishwasher and microwave-safe.

Our eighteen-month-old tester managed to drink successfully from it within a week of using, despite having struggled with other open cups previously. Though there is a risk of mess, the doidy is, in our opinion, the easiest, quickest, and most independent way to learn. It’s also affordable and available in a range of different colours.

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Mam starter cup night

best toddler cups
  • Best: Starter cup for night-time
  • Capacity: 150ml
  • Spill-free: Spill-free

When younger babies and toddlers first start drinking from a cup, many will likely prefer a soft spout to begin with. This starter cup from Mam is suitable for little ones as young as four months, with a spill-free extra-soft spout that controls the flow of liquid and helps babies to transition from a bottle to a cup.

The double handles and lightweight, ergonomic shape ensure the cup is perfect for little paws to grasp and best of all, the novel glow-in-the-dark handles make it easy to find when you’re scrabbling around on the floor at 3am in the pitch black. The handles and spout are also compatible with other Mam products, so you can switch back to a standard bottle teat or graduate to a hard spout whenever you need to.

  1. £8 from Mambaby.com
Prices may vary
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Bibs cup set

best toddler cups
  • Best: For versatility
  • Capacity: Around 120ml
  • Spill-free : Yes, with lid on

Sometimes the simplest designs are the best and though these cups may have been one of the smallest we tested, they fared well in terms of durability, versatility, and how easy they are to clean and store (they’re dishwasher safe and stack well). They also proved popular with our 20-month-old testers who found them simple to hold and sip from – though not without some mess, of course – thanks to the non-slip, food-grade material and slightly curved rim that allows for more sipping control. They come with complementary lids, too, which means you could fill them with snacks and use them on the go. Choose from a selection of gorgeous, minimalistic Nordic-inspired colourways, including sage green and blush.

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Beaba straw cup

best toddler cups
  • Best: Straw cup
  • Capacity: 300ml
  • Spill-free: Yes

Lots of modern toddler cups now have straws, and there’s no denying they’re a useful option to have at home alongside open cup designs. This model from Beaba is suitable for use from eight months, with a health professional-recommended short, firm straw and an easy-to-use flippy lid. The lid also makes it spill-proof – so long as it’s closed properly!

Perhaps the only drawback for some is the valve, which requires the child to bite down, rather than encouraging a free-flowing sucking motion. However, we love the capacity this cup offers and despite being transparent, it regularly washed up well with no staining. Straw cups are also notoriously difficult to clean, which is why many parents reserve them for water as opposed to milk, but this one comes with a small narrow brush to make getting in those nooks and crannies much easier.

  1. £10 from Beaba.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Bamboo Bamboo open cup

best toddler cups
  • Best: Eco-friendly cup
  • Capacity : 150ml
  • Spill-free: No

Bamboo Bamboo’s fun tableware is so iconic that it’s inspired a ton of imitations over the years. The cute designs are made from bamboo – an antibacterial, non-toxic material that’s not only a fast-growing resource but it’s also sustainable without pesticides, making it one of the safest possible choices for little mouths.

This eye-catching open cup has a drip-detail rim made of food-grade silicone which provides a super-soft cushion for baby’s mouth and proved to be a hit with our teething tester. Despite not having any handles, it’s easy for small hands to grip. Plus, we love this cup’s versatility: hand them a spoon and use it for yoghurts, purées, and more.

The silicone insert can be removed and placed in the dishwasher, but the bamboo does require a little more care. If you handwash your cup in warm soapy water, avoiding any prolonged soaking, and oil it with a little coconut oil about once a month to keep the material supple, you’ll have a product that’ll stand the test of time.

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Sebra melamine sippy cup

best toddler cups
  • Best: For cute designs
  • Capacity : 150ml
  • Spill-free: No

Made from food-grade melamine with a hard PE plastic spout, every part of this simple-to-use cup is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. We loved the beautiful illustrations of a dragon and a knight on horseback – the perfect antidote to the sea of brightly coloured toddler plastic that fills the rest of the kitchen cupboards! It’s a free-flow design, which means the liquid flows freely out of the spout without needing to be sucked, and the lid can be removed as your child grows and they graduate to open cups.

Since it doesn’t come with a cover, there is the risk of spillage, so while the cup is recommended from the age of four months, it’s probably a better choice for slightly older (and more cautious) toddlers. For that reason, we also wish it came in a bigger design with more capacity.

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Kidly Label drinking cups

best toddler cups
  • Best: Easy-grip open cup
  • Capacity : 150ml
  • Spill-free: No

Kidly is fast becoming the go-to for stylish yet well-thought-out designs, and these open cups proved to be a hit with our two-year-old tester. Made from soft food-grade silicone, the chunky handles allow for just the right amount of grip, while the cups themselves are slightly weighted at the base, so they aren’t easily knocked over but still have a lovely, velvety soft feel. We also noted the slightly curved rim, which helps little ones learn to sip with fewer spills – it’s details like this that’s putting Kidly ahead of the curve.

These cups are also dishwasher and microwave safe and fared well even after numerous washes. We love the muted colourways, and you can choose from a few other stylish shades that match the brand’s other bowls, plates, and weaning items.

  1. £15 from Kidly.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Dr Brown’s milestones cheers 360 cup

best toddler cups
  • Best: For convenience
  • Capacity : 300ml
  • Spill-free: Yes

Designed to teach children a sipping action without the mess, this 360-degree cup from Dr Brown’s is a welcome option for tots aged nine months and over who still need to get used to drinking from an open cup. All little ones need to do is tilt the cup and sip from the silicone valve at any side.

Though 360 training cups are popular with parents because they’re convenient and often leak-free, they aren’t recommended for too long by dentists because they don’t quite teach the same sipping action that you would get from a standard open-style cup. That said, what’s great about this version is you can remove the valve as your child’s confidence grows and use it as a true big-kid cup. It also comes with a travel-friendly lid to avoid serious spillage on the go.

Our mini tester loved the fun animal designs on the side – and they enjoyed being able to see into the cup since the valve is clear. The colours and the prints weathered well, even after countless cycles in the dishwasher.

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One Green baby bottle set

best toddler cups
  • Best: Multi-purpose design
  • Capacity : 150ml
  • Spill-free: Yes, with lid on

This set from drinks bottles brand One Green may be the most expensive option on our list, but it’s an investment buy that’ll serve multiple uses – and for that, we love it. The cup itself is made from single-wall stainless steel to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks (or food, if you want to use it for that) hot – so it’s perfect for picnics and days out. It also comes with an assortment of accessories, including a silicone rubber teat for young babies and a fun elephant-shaped sippy cap for toddlers who are transitioning to a cup. There’s also two measuring cups and a screw cap which allows you to easily convert your cup into a food jar or formula caddy.

Since the capacity is relatively small, we’d love the bottle to be just a little bit bigger. But still, our one-year-old tester loved getting to grips with the soft sippy cap (which proved to be leak-resistant if not chew resistant!). Plus, it gets huge bonus points for its eco-credentials.

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Oyoy living design mellow cups

best toddler cups
  • Best: For older toddlers
  • Capacity : 150ml
  • Spill-free: No

Not only do these cups look great but they really deliver on practicality, sustainability and more. Cleverly combining functionality with gorgeous style, the cups – as the name might suggest – are inspired by marshmallows and are made from super-soft, bash-proof matte silicone. The twisted handles make them easy for small hands to grip, while the soft silicone is gentle on the mouth and great for teeth.

This set of two makes a wonderful gift, particularly for an older toddler who loves the idea of having their own “special” cup. We trialled the cherry red/vanilla set, but it also comes in a charming chocolate-coloured choko and pale mint hues.

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The verdict: Toddler cups

A Tommee Tippee cup is a mainstay in almost every young family’s household, and the sportee water bottle proved to be our favourite in testing. Not only does it offer great capacity for thirsty and active toddlers, but it’s also durable, dishwasher safe, and totally leak-free, and it teaches toddlers how to tip and sip effectively with minimal mess and fuss. However, if you’re looking for an open cup to use, whatever their age, we highly recommend the Doidy as a budget-friendly starter option.

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