When you have a newborn, it can seem like life is one long cycle of washing baby bottles or continually breastfeeding.

But suddenly your tiny one is growing up – and ready to move on to drinking from beakers and training cups, or take the leap to a grown-up open cup. And then, as with all baby products, you discover there are 1.3 billion varieties of drinking vessels for toddlers. Open or angled cups, sippy cups or water bottles, straws or spouts, plastic or metal – what’s best?

First things first, the guidelines. The NHS says: “By the time your baby is one, they should have stopped using bottles with teats. Otherwise, they may find it hard to break the habit of comfort sucking on a bottle.

Using an open cup or a free-flow cup without a valve will help your baby learn to sip rather than suck, which is better for their teeth.” Teats and spouts take longer to drink from, so drinks that cause tooth decay stay in contact with your child's teeth for longer than with open-cup drinks.

Another thing to consider is what the cups are made of: BPA is a chemical that is used to make plastic materials.

The government’s advice is that it is a safe chemical for use in production of plastics, but there is scientific debate surrounding BPA's health effects on humans and most baby brands do not use it. All the best buys listed below are BPA-free.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent. 

 

Skiphop Zoo Straw Bottle: £6, Kidly

This was super-popular with kids and parents alike: the bottle comes in so many animal designs that our toddler tested loved picking his favourite. It’s a great transition drink container between a sippy cup and a regular bottle, the flip top lid was leak-proof and made it ideal for taking on days out.

Plus, it comes with a free extra straw to boost the product’s life if you have a "straw biter" on your hands. It’s dishwasher safe – although one tester who’d had the bottle for a few months warned its animal designs start to wear off. The bottle holds 340ml, meaning even when full it wasn’t too heavy for small hands to carry, especially with its fabric carrier bracelet. There are lots of other items in the range if you want to match too, from lunch bags to cutlery and crockery.

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Munchkin Miracle 360 Degree Trainer Cup: £4, Amazon

This one is so popular you practically need to write your little one’s name on it – because every time you go to a toddler group or restaurant, half the parents will whip the Munchkin 360 out. And it’s popular for a reason: babes learn to sip but the 360 degree edge means there’s no spillage. The cup automatically seals when the child stops drinking – so you can chuck it into a bag and avoid a dredging.

Our tot testers loved this cup, which comes in lots of colours and designs. The only downsides were that water took on a slight plasticky taste when the adults tried it out, and the manufacturer says not to run it through a dishwasher (we did though, and it came out fine).

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Doidy Cup: £3.80, Bickie Pegs

What a clever design – this is a true "teaching" cup which helps your child to learn how to drink from the rim of a cup. It has two handles and a super slanted design to make drinking easy, as they don’t have to tilt their heads back very far and can see "over" the cup. Spills do happen –  especially at the start – but our 18-month-old tester quickly learnt how to drink from the Doidy. 

One mum tester said her exclusively-breastfed baby would only drink from this cup, aged one, after rejecting bottles and traditional sippy cups. The makers says the cup’s design also helps to develop chewing skills as the jaw, tongue and mouth muscles are used. Oh, and it’s dishwasher safe.

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Liewood Bamboo Cups: £17 for two, Kidly

These cups are a stylish option for parents who don’t want a cupboard-full of primary coloured, plastic crockery, and for toddlers who are already pro at drinking from open cups (or have help). Made of bamboo and melamine – which means they’re robust and feel smooth – they come in five colours and designs: panda, rabbit, cat, bear, and cat, most with matching crockery available. 

Our tester toddler and his friend loved using these cups – and the fact that they come in a matching pair eliminated arguments about "but I want that one..!" Dishwasher safe, but not for the microwave.

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Petit Collage Stainless Steel Bottle: £15, Kidly

This one had its tester toddler jumping up and down with excitement to try it. It’s a light water bottle, made of stainless-steel, so it’s recyclable and didn’t transfer a plasticky taste to the drinks. It’s also vacuum insulated so it can keep drinks cold for 12 hours when needed in summer. The flip spout is great to drink from – it does need to be very firmly clicked into place to be leak-proof, and a couple of times, our toddlers’ efforts weren’t quite enough and gave his mum a wet handbag, so double check.

It’s a good size, holding 1350ml of water, and has an integrated handle for carrying. It’s not cheap, but feels robust and long-lasting. It’s also easy to clean, comes in loads of designs, and can go in a dishwasher. Watch out for younger kids, though: for some reason the manufacturer says it’s designed for ages 3+, although our younger tester didn’t face any issues.

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Ikea Borja Training Beaker: £1.50, Ikea

With a spout and two handles, this cheap and cheerful drinking cup from Ikea does everything a young toddler needs to have a drink. It has a transparent gap so you can see how much they’re drinking, and its small size makes it light and easy to use for young tots. It doesn’t have a lid, though, so our testers just used it as an at-home beaker.

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Go Sili universal silicone sippy tops: £9 for two, Toddlerbarn

This is the kind of product that makes every parent think: I wish I’d thought of that. It’s a universal silicone top that stretches over and grips any size tumbler; air suction keeps the top in place, so you can adapt an existing cup into a sippy cup, avoiding waste. It’s also great for keeping one in your changing bag so you can stretch it onto any cup in a restaurant or at a friend’s house, for example, turning it into a tot-friendly drink. It’s easy to use and very durable, and you can also buy the matching Siliskin Cup or Glass (which are then usable as open-cup drinks as your toddler grows).

Most of our testing parents loved them, but one toddler bit through the drinking part on its first use, putting a hole in it.

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Tommee Tippee Explora Two-Stage Drinker: £5.99, Chemist

This is the one bottle our "biter" tester couldn’t break. It has two options: a soft spout to start with, then the lid can be removed to turn into an open cup. It doesn’t spill (even when it’s shaken really hard, as one toddler tried) and has a useful name slot on the bottom so you can label it if you child takes it to nursery etc. At 400ml, it’s a generous size and it comes in elephant, pirate and bird designs. The manufacturer says it’s only for two years-plus.

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Personalised water bottle, £16, My1stYears

A great gift for a toddler, these water bottles come in a range of designs, including elephant, unicorn, cloud, and bunny, and have the tot’s name written in large letters down the side of the bottle (included in the price). Our toddler tester loved seeing his name on the bottle (you can only have up to nine characters, so super-long named kids will need a nickname) and found the twist-up straw easy to drink from. The carrier bracelet is a bit flimsy, but it has a large 500ml capacity. The major downside: it’s handwash only.

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Klean Kanteen Sippy/Sports Classic, £15.96, Klean Kanteen

The well-known Klean Kanteen reusable bottle brand has branched into kids’ versions, with its classic sippy 340ml water bottle (for babies aged six months-plus to toddlers) and a sports cap version (the two lids are interchangeable and you can buy one then move on to the other).

Our testers found it lightweight and very durable – this will survive any toddler-bashing- as well as being environmentally-friendly. The sippy cap is spill proof, the sports cap isn’t, but the loop cap (again, interchangeable) is. It’s not cheap, especially if you add on the lids, which cost £5.50, but it’s very long-lasting and our toddler testers felt very grown-up using them.

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The Verdict: Best toddler cups and water bottles

All these bottles and beakers will set kids on a path to enjoying their drinks, but Skiphop’s straw bottle is good value, long-lasting and popular with parent and toddler testers alike, making it our best buy. Robust and good looking, it comes in lots of designs and is sure to be a hit. 

Eco-conscious parents will love Klean Kanteen’s stylish option, while the personalised bottle from My1stYears makes a great present and Go Sili’s universal tops are a fantastic innovation that will stop you having to buy too much more stuff.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.