Curating Less Plastic: My Favorite Healthier Sippy Cups

In my most recent post, ‘The Case for a Healthier Sippy Cup,’ I write about prioritizing safer drinking options for our little ones.

I share some reasons to be wary of plastic products, including mounting concerns over childhood exposure to chemicals leaching from plastics, such as phthalates, bisphenols, and myriad others.

And I discuss ways to prioritize with plastic, by avoiding plastic for eating, drinking, or teething.

Today, I’m following-up with my top recommendations for safer alternatives to plastic!

Curating The Very Best Cup

There are many ways to evaluate sippy cups. For some, the top priority might be finding something lightweight; for others, it might be a cup that is completely leak-proof.

Since there isn’t one option that checks all the boxes, it’s important to decide which features are most important to you.

In curating what I consider to be the very best options, my top priorities are:

  1. Health: The safety of the product’s materials, and
  2. Sustainability: Options to extend the useful life of the product

My top picks are constructed from stainless steel and silicone, and can be paired with a variety of tops that enable the bottle to grow alongside your child.

Why Stainless Steel Over Glass?

Glass, and in particular, borosilicate glass, is arguably the safest and most inert material available for drinking.

But there are two big downsides to glass; first, it can be heavy, and second, it can be breakable, especially with toddlers who aren’t exactly known for their finesse.

Because it is so safe, I recommend glass bottles for our most vulnerable age group, infants, and also for bigger kids with the dexterity to manage this more fragile material.

But for toddlers and young children, I’ve chosen to recommend products constructed from the lighter weight, more durable stainless steel. I believe this will be a more pragmatic choice for most parents.

Comparing Stainless Steel to Plastic

I think we often perceive plastic cups to be the more accessible, durable, and affordable choice.

But when we pause to give other materials a chance, stainless steel cups compete quite well with regards to these three criteria:

  1. Accessibility: Plastic Wins: Stainless options won’t compete with plastic for availability. But with more shoppers than ever buying online, seeking out alternatives is becoming increasingly convenient.
  2. Durability: Stainless Wins: Here are some of the benefits to stainless steel, highlighting the ways in which stainless steel is actually, quite durable:
  • Durable to falls
  • Won’t fade or crack
  • Won’t absorb colors and odors
  • Won’t leach chemicals into water

3. Affordability: Stainless Wins: Because of their durability, stainless bottles save money over time. If a cup doesn’t fade, crack, or absorb odors, it won’t require continual replacement.

By prioritizing and simplifying, we can choose to invest in a higher quality cup, and by selecting something of higher quality, we can potentially spend less over the course of several years than we would managing a fleet of cheap, potentially toxic plastic cups.

My Top Two Sippy Cups

Thoughtfully-designed and constructed from safer materials, my top two choices are healthier for your little one, your wallet, and the environment — what could be lovelier?

Some of the links found below are ‘affiliate links,’ which will connect you to an outside vendor, such as Amazon. Should you opt to purchase through my link, I may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Top Choice for Toddlers: Thinkbaby Stainless Steel Thinkster

  • Brand: Thinkbaby
  • Average Price: Between $13-20 dollars depending upon color, accompanying parts, and price fluctuations
  • Availability: The stainless steel Thinkster can be ordered through several online retailers, including the Thinkbaby, buybuyBaby, and Amazon
  • Size: 9 fl ounce

My Personal Review

We’ve been using the stainless steel Thinkster for about two years now, and it’s still going strong!

Because the cup performed so well, I chose to order a second for my daughter last winter.

I should probably mention that my children, while adorable and sweet, are rather rough on their things. My daughter chucks this cup from her high chair to the tile floor multiple times per day. Apparently, the cup produces such a fabulously loud clang, that she simply can’t resist the temptation to launch it.

The fact that these two cups are still functioning, seems nothing short of miraculous.

Here is a photo of the two cups as they stand today. You will note some small dents near the bottom, but this cosmetic wear and tear hasn’t impacted the cups’ functionality.

Below, I’ve compiled an outline of the pros and cons for the Thinkbaby Thinkster.

The Lovely:

  • Bottle constructed from medical grade stainless steel body 304 (18/8)*
  • Straw constructed from medical grade silicone
  • Free of BPA, phthalates, nitrosamines, lead, PVC, PET, and biologically harmful chemicals (per Thinkbaby’s website)
  • Lightweight
  • Hygienic cap design flips to open and close, keeping mouthpiece clean
  • I love that the cap is built-in so that it can’t be lost
  • Includes removable handles
  • Three stages of lids fit one bottle so parents can utilize the cup for up to four years of development: Bottle Nipples (0-6 months & 6-12 months); Sippy Cup Spout (9-24 months); Thinkster straw top (18-48 months)
  • Replacement parts available for separate purchase

*Please note that Thinkbaby offers a plastic version of the Thinkster, and I do not recommend that version; this review is for the stainless steel version only.

Here’s an overview of the variety of lid options available:

Silicone Infant Nipples

Sippy Spout & Straw Conversion Options

These different options enable the Thinkster bottle to transition as your little one develops.

And because tops can be purchased separately, it’s easy for parents to replace parts as they become worn. Silicone isn’t nearly as inert as stainless or glass, and I think it should be replaced frequently to maximize safety, especially if chewed upon.

According to Thinkbaby, this cup is top-rack dishwasher safe with chlorine-free dish detergent. But to reduce wear, I recommend hand washing the bottle and parts with warm, soapy water. It doesn’t take long; I just clean these up at the end of the day and set them out to dry.

Here’s a peek at the Thinkster Replacement Straws that we’ve purchased from Amazon:

Our set of replacement straws

The Less Lovely:

  • Includes Some Plastic Parts: The cap is constructed of plastic, as are the handles, so while plastic doesn’t enter the mouth when drinking, this is not a completely ‘plastic-free’ cup
  • Only one size available (9 fl ounces)
  • Not Completely Leak-Proof: If left on its side without the cap closed, a pool of water forms from the silicone spout. For me, this hasn’t been a huge issue as we fill them with water. I do my best to keep the cap closed and the cup upright. When transporting, I place the bottles in cup-holders or in the bottle pouches of my diaper bag.
  • Imported: Made responsibly in Taiwan, China, and Japan (I haven’t had any luck sourcing stainless steel cups manufactured in the USA; but if I’m able to find one in the future, I will be sure to share)

Top Choice for Young Children: Pura Kiki 11 oz Stainless Steel Sippy Cup/Bottle

  • Brand: Pura
  • Average Price: Between $18-25 dollars depending upon color, size, accompanying parts, and price fluctuations
  • Size: 11 fl ounces
  • Availability: These can be ordered online through the company directly, and are currently available through buybuyBaby, and Amazon

My Personal Review

As my son neared three and a half, I purchased the Pura Kiki to serve as his new primary ‘to-go’ cup. I was so excited to have finally found a sippy completely free from plastic!

The Pura Kiki offers a bit more a big kid ‘water bottle’ style, and holds an additional 2 fl ounces than the Thinkster.

I love that this bottle can accommodate an additional stage of development through the Big Mouth Sport Top. When I purchased the bottle, I selected one that included the Clear Silicone Straw Top, and I bought the Sport Top to use when my son turned four.

My son has enjoyed using the Pura Kiki, and I’ve been impressed with the bottle’s quality. I especially appreciate the thicker quality of the Clear Silicone Straw Top.

Despite all these benefits, I choose the Thinkster as my top cup for young toddlers because it includes handles, and offers a more hygienic cap for that age group.

Two of the three toddler tops available for the Pura Kiki, the XL Sipper Spout and Clear Straw Top, do not have an attached cap. The cap is a separate silicone piece, and in our case, it quickly became lost.

This leaves the spout or straw exposed. When the cup tips on its side, the mouthpiece rests on the floor. Yuck!

That said, Pura Kiki’s fourth option, the Big Mouth Sport Top, earns the bottle my recommendation for young children ready to graduate from a sippy-style cup. Young children no longer need the assistance of cup handles, and this streamlined silicone cap, shown below, keeps the drinking access covered and the cap attached.

Below, I’ve compiled an outline of the pros and cons for the Pura Kiki.

The Lovely:

  • Zero Plastic Components
  • Like the Thinkster, the bottle is constructed from medical grade stainless steel body 304 (18/8)
  • Straw constructed from medical grade silicone
  • Four lid options that can take you from baby (silicone bottle nipple) to child (sports top). Pura Kiki offers one additional top option than the Thinkster, the Big Mouth Sport Top, which takes you beyond the sippy to a traditional water bottle
  • Multiple bottle sizes available in insulated or non-insulated styles
  • Replacement parts available for separate purchase

Here’s an overview of the variety of silicone lid options available:

Infant Bottle Nipples

Sippy Spout and Straw Options

There are currently three options; we purchased and use the clear silicone straw.

Big Mouth Sport Top

The Less Lovely:

  • No plastic means no handles, and I think some very young toddlers might appreciate handles
  • Cap/Cover is unattached (I lost mine within a few weeks)
  • About $5 More expensive than the Thinkster
  • Not Completely Leak-Proof: If placed on its side, a pool of water forms from the silicone spout
  • Manufactured in China (You can read about the care given to manufacturing here; scroll down to Concern: Made in China)

*In scouring the web for any negative feedback, I uncovered a blog expressing concerns of a lead solder dot on a Pura Insulated bottle. This issue was limited to their insulated bottles, and the solder dot was located in area that was intended to be inaccessible to the user. We’ve only used their non-insulated bottle, but before recommending it, I wanted to contact the company directly to ensure that this issue with was resolved. They assured me that 1) All finished products have always tested negatively and continue to test negatively for lead; 2) this issue was discovered for insulated bottles only in an area that should have been inaccessible; and 3) The concern of the internal lead solder dot has been remedied; Pura began using certified lead-free solder on their insulated bottles in 2017.

Plastic Alternatives Parents Can Love

Both the stainless steel Thinkster and the Pura Kiki provide parents with options that are durable, thoughtfully-constructed, and healthier than any plastic alternatives.

There are A LOT of companies producing stainless steel sippy cup/bottle options, but only a handful have chosen to utilize silicone over plastic in the construction of their straws and spouts.

In addition to these benefits, I’ve curated these products specifically because of their ability to grow alongside our little ones. This important detail extends the life of the bottle, making it more affordable for parents and kinder to our environment.

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