The Perfect Sippy Cup (is not a sippy cup)

I'm always amused by sippy cups claiming to be "100% spill proof." Any liquid can be spilled if you try hard enough. But a few early spills with D taught me that while no cup is entirely spill-proof, lots of cups are spill-prone. Others are so effectively spill-proof that kids go thirsty. Still others grow science experiments you'd rather your kids not ingest.

After a few frustrated uses of some cups from the big name baby gear makers, I started a search for the perfect sippy cup. Initially, I used three criteria: 

  1. The cup should be easy to use.
  2. The cup should be easy to clean.
  3. When the cup gets thrown, the resulting mess should be relatively easy to clean.

The "search," if you can call it that, turned out to be embarrassingly simple, because the best cup I tried also happens to be the best-rated cup on Amazon, by a huge margin. Just like any other cup, the Munchkin Miracle 360 Cup will leak when thrown at the ground just right. But it meets all three of my criteria.

It is simple to use. Just drink from any side, just like a regular cup. My two year old can't quite screw the pieces together, but has fun mixing and matching the cups and lids (pink, orange, blue, and green).

It is easy to clean. The three pieces of this cup fit snugly together, but are easy to take apart. Unlike many other sippy cups, all of the 360 parts actually get clean in the dishwasher. Even with everyday use (and perhaps more juice than I'd like to admit), these cups have not grown mold.

When it gets thrown, the top never comes off the bottom. The milk puddles are much smaller than those that seep out from other cups, and I never have to hunt under furniture for lost lids or straws.

In sum, while there might never be a "perfect" sippy cup, the Munckin Miracle 360 is really close. But if there is no "perfect" sippy cup, if all cups leak when thrown hard enough, why don't we just stop using sippy cups? 

In his introduction to The New Basics: A-to-Z Baby & Child Care for the Modern Parent, pediatrician Michel Cohen encourages parents to "ignore the frivolous myths that can impair your judgment." I found his book enormously helpful in those early months with D when people were insisting I swaddle him, burp him, or suction snot out of his nose. Now that D is confident to entertain himself for parts of the day, I've dipped back into Cohen's book. He is not, predictably, all that impressed with sippy cups: "People seem to like them, though I'm not sure why. They leak, which means more cleaning up. Also, if you move from bottle dependency to supping-cup dependency, you're just adding another habit that will eventually require breaking" (36). 

Sippy cups are so ubiquitous that we think about them as a normal and routine part of life. But do they have to be? Should they be? I was already cleaning the high chair and floor all the time anyway. All I really seemed to be buying with sippy cups was more time at the sink washing sippy cups. So I started giving D real cups. 

These adorable 3.75-ounce tumblers are made by Picardie, the company that pioneered tempered glassware. "Glass?" you gasp. "I can't give glass to my baby!" Tempered glass is stronger than regular glass, so it's less likely to break. But, if your kid really puts in the effort to break it, the glass will crumble rather than break into shards, making for much safer clean up. This glass meets all of my sippy cup criteria better than any sippy cups do.

It is simple to use. The tiny cup is easy for little hands to hold.

Because the cup is glass, it is easy to clean.

When it gets thrown, there isn't much liquid to deal with. Most of a 3.75-ounce spill stays in a high chair tray. My son has dropped or thrown these cups a number of times, but none of them even so much as a chip on them in over a year of use. 

Where the Picardie tumblers really win for me is how they elevate our dinners. Early on, we got a kick out of giving D tiny versions of our own dishes (square appetizer plates instead of square dinner plates; dessert forks instead of salad forks). His glass cups complete our tablescape, and I think D feels more engagement with a meal when not just his food, but his place setting, looks like ours. 

If you prefer to use sippy cups, my vote definitely goes to the Munckin 360. Buy tons of them and let your kiddos mix and match. Even though I've mostly switched to regular cups, it's still nice to have a few sippy cups around for little visitors or for those moments when I want to walk away from the table while D's eating. But in general, our adventure with glass cups has been a (un)smashing success.