My Love/Hate Relationship with the Sippy Cup



I am smack dab in the middle of the sippy cup years. I was successfully able to transition both kids away from the bottle by 15 months old to the good old sippy. It was a pretty easy transition for my son. I purchased two or three different cups, he quickly let me know which one he preferred and we went with it. When we worked through the transition with my daughter, it required me to buy eight (yes, eight) different cups before she found one she was comfortable with. At the time, it felt like a huge accomplishment. I was able to get rid of all those bottles, nipples and various bottle parts to make room in my cabinets for the bright colored spout cups <insert mom fist-pumps here>.

Sippy cups are seemingly a good thing. They come in all different styles, colors, patterns and cartoon character prints. Some have straws, some have silicone or plastic spouts, some you even tip back like a regular cup. For the purposes of this article, I consider all of these cups which kids under the age of 5 use to consume beverages as a “sippy cup.” They aim to prevent our little ones from sharing their juice with the upholstery. They allow our kiddos to drink liquids on the go without making our cars and strollers smell like spoiled milk. That’s a wonderful thing. The portability feature alone should be enough for me to want to throw a party for sippy cup manufacturers, or at least throw a high five. Right?

Despite how much I absolutely couldn’t imagine life right now without sippy cups, I have to admit, I kind of hate them. I know, “hate” is a strong word. A word I’m teaching my kids to avoid.  But even thinking about sippys in any shape or form these days makes me cringe a bit. I mean, it is just a brightly colored plastic cup, after all. Why would anyone care so much about a cup?

Well, despite the packaging claims, I’m convinced all sippy cups leak nearly as much as they prevent spills.  For me, some have prevented spills for a short period of time, only to start leaking after a few rounds through the dishwasher. Others produce a solid stream of water when turned at a specific angle from the get-go. Unfortunately, this is the precise angle at which my kids tend to leave their cups on my couch as they rush off to grab the toy of the minute, creating a huge puddle which takes days to dry.

One of the things I was the most excited about when we ditched the bottle was getting rid of all those annoying parts. Except I’ve now replaced them with more difficult, significantly more annoying sippy cup parts. My kids were both big fans of the Munchkin Click Lock sippy cups. Out of all the true sippy style cups we’ve tried, I found these to prevent leaks for the longest (well, until my kids chew on the spout and break the seal). My two year old still uses them because they are the best ones we’ve found. However, the silicone spout is crazy difficult to detach and clean. I’ve learned the hard way if the spout isn’t detached before a few cycles through the dishwasher, mold loves to grow there (ew – don’t worry, those went straight in the trash). Re-inserting the spout into the correct place isn’t an easy task and requires some very, very strong hands.

My son is four and can use a regular cup when seated at a table, but he now uses the water bottle or straw cups on the go. I’ve found it is virtually impossible to keep track of the detachable straws which come with most straw cups. My dishwasher likes to eat the straws, leaving the cups useless. Since none of the straws fit perfectly with different cups, I have an ever growing collection of cups for which I intend to order new pieces, only I doubt I’ll ever get around to it.  Basically I’m becoming a pink and orange plastic hoarder.

The lids are easy for kids over age 3 or 4 to remove.  For me, this usually means my son will attempt to test his lid-removal skills right in the middle of my bed, leaving my sheets sopping wet. It also feels like I have a bad habit of incorrectly screwing sippy cup lids on when out in public. This usually coincides with when my two year old decides it is time to practice baseball and throws her cup across the crowded restaurant. Yep, we’ve been that family more than once.

Also, why does every sippy cup come out of the dishwasher soaking wet? I had high hopes of retiring my Boon Grass drying rack when the bottles went in the recycling bin, but I’ve realized it isn’t going anywhere soon. Putting away dishes has now turned into a multiple step process for me. After my array of plastic cups have been washed, these supposedly glorious plastic vessels have to sit on the counter for a few hours to dry before they can be put away in the cabinet.

My kids are amazing at a lot of things, but keeping track of their cups is not a skill they yet possess. I’m embarrassed to admit that some days my kids will go through 5 or 6 cups each. You do the math. I guarantee if I looked under the couch, in the car and in the play room, I’d find at least one sippy cup in each location.  Probably more.

The sippy cup struggle is real. People who don’t have toddlers may view sippy cups as a cute, plastic cups to help prevent spills. Any parent of toddlers likely sees them very, very differently.

Do you relate to my sippy struggles? Is there a magical cup out there I’ve never tried?