Guide to Cup Selection

A visit to the baby feeding aisle in any major retailer quickly makes it clear that picking a sippy cup for your child is not as simple as it seems. Cups come in all shapes and sizes and with multiple different spout option. There are cups with and without valves, soft and hard spouts, insulated cups and more. How do you choose the right cup for your child? Narrow it down with a few simple cup selection tips.

What’s in a Spout?

The type of spout on your child’s sippy cup is one of the most important considerations. While some babies may have no difficulty with a hard spout, most will initially prefer the softer type. Soft spouts have a more familiar feel, especially to a baby who has been bottle fed. For a breast fed baby who hasn’t used a bottle, the entire idea of a cup or bottle is foreign, so choosing a soft spout will be even more important. Young babies have sensitive gums, and a hard spout may be too rough on them.

Spouts come in several shapes and sizes. If your baby has been bottle fed, a smaller spout might work well. For a breast fed baby, a large spout might feel more comforting and familiar. It might take some trial and error to find the right one, so don’t stock up on the cup of your choice until you are sure your baby will drink from it.

To Valve or Not to Valve

Sippy cups come in two main styles – types with a valve, which allows liquid to be released when baby sucks, and types with not valve that rely on other mechanisms such as pressure to release the liquid. There are pros and cons to each type.

Cups with no valve are usually easier for a baby new to cups to operate. They often have the softest and most pliable spouts, and release liquid fairly easily. They have fewer parts to wash – or to lose. On the down side, cups without a valve often leak more easily than their counterparts that use valves.

Cups with valves require fairly strong sucking to release the liquid. This means they are less likely to leak, but that your baby will have to work a little hard to get the liquid out. They will require a bit more of a learning curve for babies accustomed to the easy release of a bottle. The extra parts are easy to lose and mean more to wash and store. Some valves have a tendency to fall out of place inside the cup if banged around, and land in the liquid inside.

Cup Size and Shape

Sippy cups come in a variety of sizes, but many of them are somewhat large for a baby. For a starter cup, try to find one that is a bit smaller and easy for your baby to hold onto. Some have a curved shape that is narrower in the middle, allowing baby’s hands to get a better hold on the cup. Some cups are equipped with handles to make for easier gripping, and these are usually aimed at cup beginners.

Your baby’s cup needs will change over time. Although a soft spout without a valve might be a good beginner choice, as your child becomes more accustomed to using the cup, you can move on to a harder spout with a valve. A larger cup might be required as time goes by too, but remember – many of the larger cups on the market actually hold more liquid than is recommended for a serving of either milk or juice for a child. Use caution to make sure a larger cup doesn’t lead to overconsumption.

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