Let’s Talk About Cups, Baby

About a year ago George and I rejoiced as we said farewell to bottles forever.  After the babies were born, bottles consumed our lives.  During their NICU stay we fretted over each milliliter the babies drank hoping they would learn to eat and come home.  Once they were at home we found ourselves running a milk bank of our own as we whipped up gallons of formula to fill up to 32 bottles daily.  Oh, and the bottle washing was the worst.  Bottles invaded our dishwasher so we succumbed to hand washing a gazillion bottle parts daily.  It was laborious.

preemie eating in the sidelying position

Make bottles for multiples for 24 hours at a time

This was a mere fractions of the bottles I washed daily.  We had 3-4 bottle drying racks at any given time.

This was a mere fraction of the bottles I washed daily. We had 3-4 bottle drying racks at any given time.


Little did we know that ditching bottles meant searching for The Holy Grail: a toddler cup that doesn’t leak.  No one mentions this, but toddler cups be they sippy or straw are a nightmare.

Some of you may be wondering why we don’t just switch to open cups.  After all, open cups are supposed to be introduced around 15 months.  The quads are all capable of drinking from open cups and practice routinely during snack time outside or during bath tea parties.  They are not ready for open cups at every meal.  They are sloppy eaters and a few of them have no qualms about chucking a cup 20 feet across the kitchen.  To teach them responsibility, they clean up their messes, but they are barely two. I still have to go behind them to keep milk from souring on the tile.  I’m tired.  Always.  When they prove themselves capable of the self-restraint to drink from open cups we will go there for all meals. In the meantime I FINALLY have a cup we like for milk and another for water.  It took a year to find these gems, people.  A year.

In order to transition from bottles of formula to cups with cow’s milk we began with trainer cups.  We tried a variety of brands and styles that I can’t even recall now.  We found success with”> Nuby trainer cups with handles.  They were similar enough to bottles with soft spouts the babies didn’t protest them.  The handles helped their little hands manage a cup and learn to tip it.

Use sippy cup straws if your baby is learning how to drink from a cup, and enjoys throwing his cup

Nuby trainer cups with handles, which are attached to sippy cup straps (a lifesaver when you are beginning sippy cups with multiples!)

As the babies grew, I wanted them to learn how to use straws.  After all, the trainer cups were strikingly similar to bottles.  Whereas straws are socially acceptable for any age.  In fact, I love straws!  I even sip coffee from a straw to keep my teeth from being coffee coated and yellowing.  The babies weren’t ready for regular straws so we began using”> Nuby silicone straw cups.  The babies took to them easily.  They struggled, however, to switch between using sippy cups that should be tipped up to straw cups that needed to stay vertical.  Thus, we made a total switch to straw cups.

Nuby silicone straw cups

Nuby silicone straw cups

We loved the Nuby silicone straw cups until the fateful day when Harper learned to unscrew the lid and dump his milk.  We then switched to similar cups, “>Munchkin click ‘n’ lock silicone straw cups.  These were THE cups for several months.  Harper could not open them, the straws worked just like the other cups, and they were spill proof.  Until they weren’t.  Eventually the quads gnawed the straws and sometimes they poked their forks through the straws, which created leaks.  It wasn’t long before we started having a problem with fluid funneling up through the top and making a huge mess.  These were inexpensive cups so we planned to just buy new ones.  Except they were impossible to find.  George found Nuby’s click and lock straw cups, which seemed quite similar.  We liked Nuby before so why not?  Oh my!  These cups were awful….leaking from the sides, bitten straws, funneling.  The works.  We were exasperated.

Munchkin click 'n' lock silicone straw cups

Munchkin click ‘n’ lock silicone straw cups

toddler cups

This is our cup hoarde. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even include the earliest cups because many of those are long gone.

I polled moms of multiples about their favorites, and wondered IF the Holy Grail existed.  Many grumbled that ALL sippy and straw cups leak.

BEHOLD, the HOLY GRAIL at last…..

My quad mama pal, Krista, and another mom of triplets both swore by the Contigo Kids cups for water.  I was hesitant to purchase them since they retail for about $10 each.  Just getting one cup per kid was a $40 investment.  In the meantime, I experimented with a variety of cups.  All failures.  I finally bit the bullet and bought a set of Contigo Kids cups.

I was easily swayed when I noticed they came in the quads “assigned” colors: pink, blue, purple, and green.   The first night we had them, George attempted to dash my hopes of finding THE cup.  He taunted proclaiming these were too expensive for just another cup.  He practiced slinging them on the tile, turning them, and tilting them.  He could not make them leak!  YIPPEE!!!   We used our first set for a month or two before I found them in three packs at Costco at a discounted price.  I bought two packs for ourselves (spares aren’t bad) and bought a set for a triplet birthday party.

The Contigo cups are by far the best we’ve ever tried for water.  However, due to the flip top valve, I think it would be rather difficult to fully clean for milk.  We still needed a leak proof milk cup.

Contigo are the preferred cups for outings.  The flip top and handle make them easy to scoop up when we are on the go.

Contigo are the preferred cups for outings. The flip top and handle make them easy to scoop up when we are on the go.

Contigo kid's cup

Having a cup in each child's color makes identifying whose is whose a snap.

Having a cup in each child’s color makes identifying whose is whose a snap.

We haven’t had any problems with our Contigo water bottles.  However, they have a Limited Lifetime Guarantee if there are any defects in workmanship.

Another of my quad mama friends, Amber, suggested the “>Tommee Tippee Explora cups.  These were a little less expensive in two packs for $10.  Again, these cups came in the “assigned colors” so I snagged one for each of the quads.  I was admittedly hesitant to believe in these cups.

Rylin refused to drink from hers for well over a month because I couldn’t put a straw in it.  Just recently she agreed to give it a go when I told her the Bell quads used them (peer pressure at it’s finest).  One day I thought it was over, Sydney’s cup leaked.  I was ready to throw in the towel on this set too.  That was until another mom of quads told me she called Tommee Tippee to complain that their “leak proof” cups indeed leak.  They informed her of an instructional video to properly attach the valve.  I thought I knew how to work a sippy cup and tossed my directions.  Low and behold if you properly attach the valve the cup does NOT leak, even when tossed by a toddler.  Another perk?  These cups are insulated, which is fabulous for milk.


Again, having a cup in each child's color is a win for us.

Again, having a cup in each child’s color is a win for us.

In addition to my two favorite milk and water cups, I like to use “>Take ‘n’ Toss cups when I make milkshakes, applesauce drink, or smoothies.  The quads cannot be trusted to drink from them regularly because they have a blast tipping them upside down to watch drips of fluid fall to the ground or table.  However, they work really well for thick liquids, particularly ones I don’t want gumming up my Holy Grail cups.

use take and toss cups for toddlers at a party

I snagged the idea of using Take ‘n’ Toss cups from my quad mama friend, Amber’s, birthday party. They were great for the toddler guests especially since we have white carpet now.

Alas, all of our favorite cups in harmony at the dinner table!

Alas, all of our favorite cups in harmony at the dinner table!




P.S. I was not compensated by Contigo or Tommee Tippee.  All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. However, this post contains affiliate links in case you would like to order any of the products mentioned directly from Amazon.  Please visit my disclaimer page for further information regarding affiliate links.

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12 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Cups, Baby

  1. Yay for leak-proof cups! And don’t feel bad about your cup collection—I think any parents of toddlers, even who just have one kiddo, probably has as many! Love the pic of the new table in action 🙂


    • I agree! I think most parents of toddlers end up with quite a hoarde of cups, especially when trying to find a good one. Thanks for finding the Tommee Tippee ones!


  2. Ugh, the search for cups!!! I was just looking at my totally-clogged-up cabinet full of toddler cups and thinking of how completely ridiculous it is to have so many cups and not like ANY of them. Luckily, all of our kids have been pretty dependable with the take-n-toss ones, and they will even tolerate being dropped on the floor about 75% of the time without major leaks. I’ll have to look into those two though–those are two brands I haven’t tried.


    • After I took a picture of the hoarde, I threw all the rejects away because it was silly junking up an entire cabinet with them. We could almost rely on take n toss if I supervised really well. Three like tipping them to watch liquid drip out of the straw. Ugh…


  3. I have also been searching for a cup that doesn’t leak! Thanks so much for the post. I have not tried either of those brands and I think with only two boys (2 and 1)-I have as many cups as your four! I love following your blog and seeing the chidren grow.


    • Hi Marcie!!!
      Our cup hoarde would even be bigger if I had EVERY cup we ever tried. When one doesn’t work out, I try to get rid of it. In fact, after I snapped the picture of the hoarde I got rid of all the ones I didn’t like. =)


  4. I gave up on the cups! ARG! I had the take and toss sippies for a while, and now we just use open cups for every meal. I only give them water in the cups so if they spill it, it’s not a problem, and if they spill it or drop it on purpose then the cup goes away. For non-meal drinking they have camel back toddler water bottles that are straws they have to bite to get the water out, these are really and truly leak proof except for when they take a huge mouthful of water and SPIT IT EVERYWHERE. So yeah. They look a lot like the contigo ones. I let them have their water bottles all day in the play room or wherever, so they can have access to water whenever they want (especially in the car, they are thirsty in the car for some reason?).

    Our switch to the open cups at meals was really recent – at around 22mo – because it is July/August and I don’t care if they get wet! No outfit changes for wet toddlers haha! Just learn not to spill on yourself! They actually are really amazing at it now, they hardly even spill by accident anymore.


    • Another quad mom has the Camelbak water bottles and they look pretty much like the Contigo ones. What is about it about being so thirsty in the car??? We bring water bottles in the van too, and I only trust the Contigo for that job.
      Do your kids not drink milk? I am okay with a few tiny water splashes, but not milk…it sours and stinks and gets sticky. There is something odd about our kitchen tile and when it’s wet it’s super slippery. We’ve had kids hit the floor from one ice cube melting. So when we practice with water it’s practically droplets in a cup. LOL.


  5. I’ve been using these cups for well over a year. They have done a good job thus far, but recently when dropped on the floor (or hurled across the room by my almost 2 year old) the lids are popping off creating a huge mess! I bought a new batch (we now own 8) thinking the others were just old and needed tossed… But nope. The lids are still popping off if dropped.


    • Nooooo!!!! That’s so sad. Please tell me your little one has an extremely strong arm and will likely be drafted to Major League Baseball in the future. We’ve had the valve loosen with really hard throws, but lids have never popped off.


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