Felix never drank out of a bottle due to what I called his “reverse nipple confusion.” Once he started on water (and yes, diluted juice), he happily accepted a non-toxic sippy cup.
With Wolfie, we never even tried to give him a bottle, as I didn’t use a pump the second time around. I started him on a non-toxic sippy cup even sooner.
When I was researching non-toxic sippy cups for Felix, I was at first I was psyched that every single sippy I found was BPA-free. For once, a decision would be easy! Or not.
Since I’m neurotic, I decided to do a little more research, and sure enough I found some good reasons to avoid the plastic sippy cups they sold every baby store. Actually, I didn’t even need to go digging: even back then (in 2010 or so), major news outlets like The New York Times were reporting the dangers of BPA substitutes.
Since then, more research has emerged, and it has become clear that pretty much all plastic food and drink containers should be avoided whenever possible.
The good news is that there are lots of safe glass and stainless steel sippy cups available (see below, under “The Good Stuff.”)
In the updated version of this Safe Product Guide, I also included some kids’ water bottles—since kids really use sippy cups for such a short period of time. (Tears…it goes so fast!).
My Top Pick For Sippy Cup/Water Bottle
Pura is my pick for sippy cup. Because it fits with 4 different tops, this versatile cup goes from bottle, to sippy, to straw, to sport bottle. It’s the only one I use for both of my kids, ages 3 and 7. It’s the only plastic-free cup that’s Nontoxic Certified (by Madesafe.org).
Is There Lead in Your Non-Toxic Sippy Cup?
In early 2017, Natural Baby Momma blogged about sippy cups containing lead, and this freaked a lot of people out. You’ll see notes below on specific bottles, but the bottom line is basically this:
- Don’t worry about any glass bottles except Green Sprouts (see “The Sneaky Stuff”), but even if you have a Green Spout sippy, your child probably didn’t come in contact with the lead.
- Don’t worry about any non-insulated stainless steel bottles.
- If you have an insulated stainless steel bottle, make sure the dot on the bottom is covered with a seal (if there is a seam instead of a dot, don’t worry–your cup doesn’t have lead).
- If you have a stainless steel bottle AND it has a dot on the bottom AND the seal is missing, toss it and call the company, but still rest assured that the chances of your child having been exposed to unsafe lead levels is low.
- For Pura Kiki and Eco Vessel cups: if you have a bottle that you bought in the last year or so, even if it’s insulated and that seal over the dot on the bottom is missing, it won’t have lead (but still call the company to be sure).
Do Sippy Cups Cause Lisps and Cavities?
Some experts suggest that drinking from a sippy cup can cause lisps and other speech issues. Drinking from a straw will not cause speech problems, however.
Sippy cups also can facilitate tooth decay if they contain juice or milk, but this is related to the frequency of sugars being in contact with the teeth rather than the cup itself (when children have access to a sippy full of apple juice all day, for instance).
What Sippy Cups/Water Bottles Are Made Of
- BPA. I’m lying. Every sippy cup I researched (including all the ones sold by Babies “R” Us and Diapers.com) proclaims itself “BPA free!” Sadly, this is meaningless, as we now know that estrogen-mimickers are found in BPA-free plastics, too.
- Silicone. This plastic substitute seems to be non-leaching and non-toxic, although I would like to see more studies conducted on silicone. Increasingly, sippy cup manufacturers are using silicone spouts or straws in place of the old plastic ones, and this is definitely an improvement.
- Latex. Like silicone, latex is a good alternative to plastic, although because it is a somewhat common allergen, not many companies go this route.
- Aluminum. The inside of aluminum water bottles or sippy cups are always coated, since aluminum is not considered “food safe.” This epoxy lining is usually plastic, and you should make sure that it is guaranteed to be free of BPA or its analogs (see below, under “The Sneaky Stuff,” for more on this). In addition to concerns about the coating itself, I also worry that if it were to be scratched or compromised in some way, the liquid inside the cup could theoretically contain traces of aluminum, particularly if your child was drinking an acidic juice.
- Stainless steel. Long considered the safest material for cookware, even good old stainless steel has come under fire for potentially being dangerous: when heated, it may leach aluminum and other heavy metals into food. Since sippy cups generally contain only cold liquids, this doesn’t concern me, and if you wanted to be really careful you could avoid using stainless steel sippy cups for acidic drinks.
- Glass. This is probably the best material in terms of safety, but it’s heavy and breakable, so most people prefer stainless steel sippies.
What About Phthalates?
Although all sippy cups and kids’ water bottles these days proudly guarantee themselves to be BPA-free, very few mention phthalates. I’ve had almost no luck getting any manufacturer to provide me with a list of all the materials they use (that includes the makers of The Good Stuff!), but the potential for phthalates to be lurking in plastic sippy cups is just another reason to stick to stainless steel or glass. That said, phthalates tend to be found in soft plastic (think bath toys), so most sippy cups are probably in the clear.
The Good Stuff
This entirely plastic-free sippy cup is a customer (and personal) favorite. Pura offers the only sippy/straw cup that is Nontoxic Certified (by Madesafe.org). And for those of you worried about lead in this bottle: An older version of the INSULATED bottle was found to contain lead ONLY in a small dot on the bottom of the cup, which was covered by a (lead-free) metal seal. And there is no lead anywhere in the current line of Pura bottles and cups–insulated or otherwise.
A stainless steel body and silicone spout means zero contact with plastic for your toddler. Also great is the way this cup transitions as your child grows–just replace the spout with the silicone straw top (sold separately) and then the sport top for even older kids. And now you can buy a straw or sport version of this cup to begin with, if you want to skip the spout style entirely. It’s available in either insulated or non-insulated.
The Pura Kiki cup is not completely spill proof–if your child is intent on tipping it and shaking it, water will leak. This is easily avoided, however, by using the travel cap that comes with every cup.
How to Get One
The Good Stuff online store, where we sell the Pura Kiki Sippy for $16 a pop.
Unfortunately, this sippy cup has been discontinued.
Eco Vessel Insulated Sippy is made of food-grade stainless steel and has no lining of any kind. The double handles are nice. And for those worried about lead in this bottle: An older model did contain lead in a dot on the bottom, which was covered by a seal and is very hard to remove. If you have an Eco Vessel from before 2015, just make sure the seal is covering the dot, and you don’t need to worry. The Good
The insulation means that liquids stay cold for hours. This is our preferred cup for taking smoothies on the go (we just unscrew the sippy lid to drink). This cup won’t break when dropped and is easy to clean.
Some kids have been known to bite through the silicone spout on this sippy.
How to Get One
You can buy the Eco Vessel Insulated Sippy Cup in our online store.
Klean Kanteen makes a great leak-resistant stainless steel sippy cup, and they recently swapped out the plastic spout for a silicone one.
This cup is good in the leak department because of the valve-style of the spout, plus the added dust cover.
You aren’t supposed to put the Klean Kanteen bottle in the dishwasher because the paint chips–and it also seems to chip more easily than the Eco Vessel sippy when dropped.
How to Get One
Widely available at a range of retail locations as well as on Amazon, a Klean Kanteen sippy cup costs around $23 for the small 12-ounce bottle.
We’ve tried a lot of Thermos’s stainless steel Foogo line, and we’ve been mostly happy with it. They make a traditional sippy cup as well as a miniature thermos with a silicone straw. I prefer the latter model (pictured on the right). Note that Thermos’s FUNtainers are also Good Stuff.
I love the mini thermos for smoothies (it keeps liquids colder for far longer than any of the other cups listed here), although even cleaning it out immediately doesn’t prevent some mold-like growth on occasion. If you want to avoid potential speech or dental problems caused by sippy cups, the straw is a great option. It’s also leak-proof, so you can toss it in a bag.
Compared to the other options here, the Foogo sippy cup and thermos have more parts to clean and get funky pretty quickly. The sippy cup’s spout is made of thermoplastic rubber, which does not contain BPA or phthalates but about which I can find very little safety information. I recommend going with the straw option.
How to Get One
Foogo is widely available, including on Amazon, and you’ll pay between $6 and $12 for a cup, depending on which model you buy.
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