You know you are a parent when you have a justified fear of the sippy cup. Those innocuous cups covered in colorful cartoons with a screw top lid for children. It is not the cup itself that we fear, but the eventuality of finding one that has been fermenting for days. They look the same as the ones you recently filled. The problem is the kids drag their sippy cups with them everywhere: inside, outside, the car, the bed, their favorite hiding spot, your room, the bathroom. No place is off limits. So you tend to lose track of them. Finally, one day, as you are hand washing a sea of sippy cups, you find it. You discover the lost cup that has fermented for days. You unscrew the lid, and the smell hits your unsuspecting nostrils with a noxious cloud of putrescent milk. The milk slips from the bottle as a rancid clump, scattering the scent even further triggering your gag reflex. The fear is real!
One such bottle, absently dropped under the staircase by my son, was later found by my husband. He lay prone on the floor, half under the stairs, when I heard a desperate, “It squirted me, it squirted me!” The lone sippy had fought back. My husband’s expected response, “Man down, man down! My god what a brave soul. Call in the hazmat. No man will be left behind!” My actual response, tinged with a slight bit of relief it hadn’t been me, “Egh it will wash off.” It may seem callous, but as a mom, I am covered by snot, food, barf, pee, and poop on a regular basis. The best part is, half the time I don’t even realize it is there. So my empathy was low.
My second problem with the sippy cup is the ability to clean it. Some have very elaborate tops. They seem appealing at first, but a seasoned parent quickly realizes they are trouble. The more elaborate the apparatus, the more challenging to clean every nook and cranny. When those sippy cups have fermented, you don’t want any spaces you can not clean. I have found the simpler, the better. After hundreds of hours cleaning baby bottles, I recommend the models below for each stage. The NUK sippy cup with the nipple is great because you can get replacement nipples on Amazon as well. This is good because they do eventually wear out, also good if you have dogs who like to chew them. The last cup is the only one with a straw. They are the easiest to clean thoroughly but do require you have a thin brush that can fit inside the straw. Regardless of if they say dishwasher safe, I would not clean sippy cups in the dishwasher. Dishwashers do not clean them thoroughly. If you really want to wash something in the dishwasher, you can put the bottle in the dishwasher, but you should hand wash the lids.
(Disclaimer: If you purchase the following items I will get a percentage of that sale. I do not recommend things I do not use myself)
At the present time, these are the top ones that I use. They are easy to clean, have fun designs for the kids, and are pretty sturdy. There are others that may work as well, but these are my tried and true models. The only things these bottles lack are a find me feature and an expired milk warning.