Never Clean a Sippy Cup Again

Tom, 9 months

Did you know sippy cups are optional?

One of the easiest ways to clean a sippy cup is to use the dishwasher, but easier than that is not using one.

Our kids learned to drink from small glasses. We start by giving them a little water. If it all dribbles down their chin, it’s no worry. It doesn’t take long for babies to figure out how a cup works.

I like that I never discover a three-day-old sippy cup on the floor of the car with milk gunking up the straw.

If you’re worried about glass over a tile or concrete floor, you can use a plastic medicine cup instead.

And our broken glass count? Kids: 1 Me: 100.

Lane, 14 months

One thing that helps us is our household rule to keep food and drinks at the table. The kids don’t wander around our home carrying their drinks.

It’s easier to go places when my kids can drink from a regular cup or water bottle. (There is a small amount of confusion at friends’ houses or the church nursery. All the kids are given sippy cups, and my kid didn’t know how to use them.)

I just wanted to mention it, because my mom had to tell me this for our first baby. I didn’t know babies could learn to drink from a cup!

What baby advice have you been glad to know?

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Jackie@Lilolu says:

    If I could go back in time I would not have wasted my money on sippy cups.

  2. This is what we did with our second child and it has made life so much easier. I think we really do not expect enough out of our children – both in ability and behavior. Which might explain the downward spiral of morals and behavior over the past 30 years.

    How did I go from sippy cups to that? :)

    Shannon´s last post…Fats to Eat- Fats to Avoid… or Why We Eat Butter

    • As a teacher, I couldn’t agree with you more. I can’t believe the way I see some student behave with their parents. Things they would never do at school. Its really a matter of how much we, as adults, will tolerate.

  3. We didn’t use “sippy cups” but used the ones with straws.

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  4. my liberation came with the knowledge that my babies (i have triplets) could drink cold bottles. no need to go through all that hassle of warming them. some of the older women from church who helped me with the babies had a hissy about it at first, but i finally proved it wouldn’t harm the littles.

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    • After a few weeks, I figured that out too. Our oldest got bottles infrequently, but when he did take one, he didn’t care if it was cold or warm. My mother was horrified. :)

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      • Christine says:

        My son not only tolerated the cold bottles, he preferred them. He wanted my pumped milk straight from the fridge. Turns out their was a medical reason and this was a clue, but it was also a huge timesaver. I think even kids without issues can tolerate tepid bottles (although, other than my son, I’ve not seen a kid who preferred his chilled like a tequila bottle!).

    • I had a similar experience with another new mom telling me how “lucky” I was that my child would take a cold bottle. I said I never really gave my child another option. Then I asked what she did when they were in the car? And she had purchased a bottle warmer that attached to the lighter! I’d never even heard of such a thing!

  5. TRUE! It’s so hard to believe when everyone around us has their 2+yr olds on bottles still and sippy cups for 5yr olds. My daughters switched to sippy cups at 12m and were drinking out of “big girl cups” by 18m. We have water bottles for when we’re out and about, but at home and meal times we stick to open cups.

    I recommend the IKEA plastic cups (plates and bowls too). They’re the perfect size for little hands.

  6. My children are now in their mid-thirties. I don’t think there was such a thing as a sippy cup when my sons were babies! It really was an odd statement for you to say that it was your mother who said that a sippy cup was not necessary — of course she would know that, she probably didn’t use such a thing when you were a child! It is amazing what children can and do learn if we just let them explore their world on their own. I enjoyed being a mother when my children needed me, but I enjoy more being their friend and sometime mentor now that they don’t need me…

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  7. I think I will try this for our little bundle that’s on the way. For Anna, our three-year-old, she drank out of a sippy, but she could only drink it at the table. Now she drinks from an open cup. She did learn to drink out of a small cup a lot earlier than most of the kids her age. I could definitely see starting my second child earlier.

    What do you do for long car trips? We travel hours to see grandparents a couple of times each year and usually eat in the car during those long trips.

    • For long car trips we use a water bottle with a flip-up straw or sometimes an apple juice box.

  8. I just got some Klean Kanteen bottles with the sippy adapters to start with my LO. I like that I can keep using them beyond the sippy cup stage. And he sees me drinking out of my KK all the time, so I’m hoping that he will be able to copy the behavior. But we use a daycare during the day, and cups aren’t so compatible with that setup.

  9. I’ll never forget seeing Lane drink with ease from a water bottle at a very young age. I was intrigued when you told me your no sippies method. However, we tried it with Libby. At 2, she is an absolute pro at drinking from a cup and has been for some time. We still use straw Thermoses when we’re on the go, but at home, we only use cups. I second the recommendation for the Ikea cups. They are just the right size.

  10. Kariann says:

    We have a six year old son and a 5 month old daughter. We didn’t use sippy cups for our son and don’t plan on using them with our daughter either. Our main consideration for skipping sippy cups (and most kids dinnerware) was the plastic factor. We found that we were spending so much time searching for safe plastics when we had plenty of safe glass cups in our cupboard already. We were willing to take the risk of a broken glass or occasional spills over the unknown risks of plastics. By the way, I don’t recall a single glass that my son has broken in his 5 years of using them and spills are minor.

    We also use the occasional juice box on long car rides, but sometimes it is good to skip those too. They only lead to more bathroom stops :).

  11. Jennifer says:

    My baby (now 11) drank out of a cup at the ripe age of three days. I was so engorged he couldn’t nurse, so the lactation consultant that lived across the street came to help. We filled a medicine cup with milk, and he sipped from it. My adopted grandma thought it was so cute she bought him a little silver cup.

  12. We, too, pretty much skipped sippy cups with our youngest. We have one or two we use when we’re going to the park, on a plane, or to an environment that requires sippy cups (our VBS last year, for example). But he’s pretty much always used a cup otherwise. Some people think it’s weird. :) I’m just glad not to have to clean out all of those spouts and valves anymore.

  13. I was/am a clueless first time mother. I had a load of weight lifted off of me when I finally decided to take someone’s advice and let my baby wake me up to nurse. I went from waking her every 3 hours, to her sleeping 8 hours a night at 4 weeks old.

    I can’t even tell you what it felt like to wake up after 8 hrs of sleep that first time.

    • Mom of 2 under 2 says:

      aNGIE, that is such a huge problem with ‘old school’ advice. That happened to me with my second baby in the hospital (after a homebirth with my first). I had just got out of the delivery room, settled down to sleep, and since it was 3 hours since my baby had done a 2-hour nursing marathon, the nurse woke me and told me to nurse her. Far different from my midwives’ advice with my first; they said the baby will wake up when its hungry (as long as its not bunny wrapped too snug).

  14. Funny. I was just thinking last night—“what did babies drink from before the sippy cup?” However, for car travel, at the park, beach, etc., it’s sure handy to have a non-spill cup full of water to readily give instead of carting a jug of water and pouring into a cup—especially when driving!

  15. It’s so true! We’ve never used sippy cups and the few times they landed in our hands they ended up moldy in the bottom of our car. blech.

    We use small glasses we buy through the Small Hands catalog. We also have two enamel mini-mugs which they love. (and yes, shot glasses do come in handy!)

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  16. This is funny to me. I am 31 and I don’t think sippy cups even existed then. My parents’ car, living room, etc stayed clean because there was no drinking or eating allowed in the car or anywhere at home but the dining table. I laugh inside when I go to baby showers and see all the unnecessary crap parents think they need nowadays (if the item didn’t exist 50, 30, or 10 years ago – it’s not necessary. It might be a convenience, but by the time you wash special parts, replace batteries, it may not be). Long live consumerism…

    • So true with the unnecessary crap! With my 11 year old, I rushed around buying the most “child-friendly” crap… Now, with my 5 mo. I can’t believe all the stuff that I am giving away from the first (out of 4 total) boys! Now, SIMPLICITY is the key word for babies! I think I tossed/gave away around 10 30gal black trash bags of extra baby “crap”! Once it was all together, I couldn’t believe my hoarding capabilities! Thank you Lord for the Simple Life!

  17. Just thinking about sippy cups makes me cringe. Love the idea of shot glasses. I used little empty jam jars with my babies.

  18. I’m a speech pathologist and this is a pet peeve of mine. I encourage transitioning from bottle/breast to open cup or the flip straw if you are concerned with spills. There is a school of thought that zippy cup usage can interfere with normal speech development.

  19. We have tried to use regular cups because I was told it would be soooo easy to convert. It didn’t work for us. Instead my kids used sippy cups without the valve in it. It limits the spillover, but cuts down on the nursing urge. Or so I thought… of course my kids still suck their thumbs. Well, what can you do.

  20. Denise C. says:

    Best baby advice I got, which was actually via the internet, was that babies don’t need a ton of stuff. They don’t need $100 Exersaucers, or a bassinet & a crib etc.

    Rachel, your children are beautiful. :)

  21. Sainte Genevieve says:

    My husband’s grandmother gave all our kids a silver cup with their name engraved on it. My husband wanted to use them rather than just store them as knick-knacks in the china cabinet. His own mother had an old collection of his and his siblings’ silver cups and they were not in mint condition; on the contrary, they looked well-used and well-loved.
    I have heard that silver has anti-bacterial properties–and no chance of broken glass.
    Best baby advice for me? The book “The Baby Whisperer” which was about understanding a baby’s cries. It teaches a sensitivity to your baby’s needs without it turning into a life that revolves around those needs.

  22. My best advice has to do with feeding your baby something other than the baby food in a jar.

    Just blend up whatever you had for dinner. It’s that simple.


  23. Hear, hear!! I have the worst time convincing waiters at restaurants not to bring the disposable plastic cup with the lid and bendy straw–my 17 month old is perfectly capable of managing a glass!

  24. I know that my kids had the ability to drink from it- but they are 6, 4, and 10 months and I still sometimes make the older ones use sippy cups simply because they are so clumsy!! They like to talk and laugh at the table and they often use their hands to talk, and I can’t tell you how many times I have to make them clean up their mess (and then go behind them to finish cleaning it up!) and change their clothes because they’ve accidentally knocked their cup over. I don’t even fill the cups all the way- usually less than halfway. Don’t know if I have the patience to give up sippy cups- are my kids just super uncoordinated?

  25. This is great! My pediatrician couldn’t believe it the other day when I told her my 20-month-old son drinks from a cup and never used a sippy cup. He disdained them because he saw the rest of the family drinking from glasses. As far as I’m concerned it’s the way to go, and I don’t mind cleaning up the occasional mess. Kids are capable of much more than society and marketers give them credit for.

    Wendy´s last post…this moment

    • Oh, and just seeing Jasi’s comment above, we won’t use a high chair w/ the next baby as our son eats either on our laps or in a booster seat.

      Wendy´s last post…this moment

  26. They have to stay at the table to eat and drink and we have carpet under our table so glass breaking isn’t so much of an issue. We are usually drinking water so spilling isn’t too scary either. I gave emergen-c to my youngest a few weeks back (in the Klean Kanteen with sippy adapter) and he left a trail of it from the kitchen to our bedroom. I’m still working on getting that out of the carpet. I should have stuck with glass, in the kitchen, while I was watching.

    We are cup users – as well as Klean Kanteen when we are out and about. I confess that I usually let my boys share a drink and often when we are out…like today at the park…we all drink from my large Klean Kanteen. I have wondered lately that I’m probably breaking some sort of Mommy Law by having them share the same cup but I don’t care. At least in this season it works for us…

    Which is probably how I would sum up what I have learned in the short time I have been a parent. I’m going on #3 now and something in me has sort of clicked lately. There are some hard rules that I think all parents should obey (things like “don’t abuse your children”) but when it comes to the everyday…there’s not a whole lot that can or should be hard and fast rules. Being a mom of a 3 year old and almost 2 year old and soon a newborn, having all boys, having no family around to help, and having a very tight budget…these circumstances have been great teachers of this particular lesson. I can’t compare where I’m at or what I do or HOW I’m doing as a mom to the people around me because we’re all in such different places. I’m never going to achieve perfection and “doing well” looks different in different seasons and may be very different for me compared to another mom. I’m doing well right now to get us out of our city apartment several times a week, eat fairly healthy, and *maybe* get the laundry folded AND put away. And I only get one cup at meals for the two of them. My goodness…they’re practically twins. It works right now.

    Soon it will likely ALL change and everything will be different. We’re having a baby after all!

    I think for me there has been a lot of growing up lately…I’m learning to stand confident in the choices we have made as a couple in regard to our marriage, our boys, our finances, moving to the city, living in an apartment…even when others disagree, do something entirely different, or don’t understand.

    We don’t eat all organic. We CAN’T. We shop garage sales and thrift stores. Because we have to! We live in 926 sq feet. And it’s plenty. I’m okay with that, even if everyone else isn’t. And I am certainly seeing where I can’t hold other people to my “standards”. It can be tricky…living in community and being around people who don’t live like you or agree with you or do things like you do…but it really grows you up fast and gives a you huge desire for grace in these areas that don’t determine our salvation. Being a good mom doesn’t do a thing for me eternally. I have nothing I can boast about. I don’t have it all figured out. Three years ago I think I thought I was close…

    Wow. I haven’t been blogging for months and I haven’t been actively reading all my usual favorites and so I think I have left a super long comment. Please forgive, Rachel…I’ll to contain myself next time.

    Good question though. I obviously had something to say. :-)

  27. we use our 2 sippies and 2 nalgene travelers. never bottles or plastic dinner ware, we went straight to glass only and only at the table. we didn’t really need sippies for the first but just personality- we definitely need it for our wild little second. he’s just more physical.

    amazing realizations? we don’t need 90% of the junk they said we did. sling, dipes, clothes, tube of A&D, 3 second rectal thermometer, carseat. honestly!!! i wish we knew before we bought the crib they never slept in, the high chair we never used.. etc.

    second realization- no one has it “right”. get in touch, parent intuitively and you’ll all be alright. good times.

  28. Epiphany! I have worked as a nanny with so many kids that tote around a sippy cup with a straw that is impossible to clean out well…won’t be going down that road with my own!

    Kait Palmer´s last post…The Vision

  29. Purplejamie says:

    My three month prem baby was cup fed in hospital when I couldn’t be there. He was intial fed through a tube. When he was able he was able was put to the breast, but continued to have tube feeds when I was not in the hospital. The nurses found that he was becoming increasing upset when I wasn’t there and felt he would take comfort from a feed going down the proper way! For babies who were intended to be breast fed they did not use bottles, to avoid nipple confusion, and so used a very small cup for the babies to drink from. This was 15 years ago – not sure what happens now.

  30. Hi just wanted to let you know I have been subscribing to your blog for a while now and love it. I would of never thought of shot glasses for kids. Very smart!

    I am giving you a gift to say thank you for all your work on your blog. So come by my blog to read about your award the One Lovely Blog and pick up your award to post it on your blog!


  31. I have a stash of different varieties of sippy cups etc in my Tupperware cupboard that i’m holding on to, not quite sure why! I’m not going to give Ella (6 months) a sippy cup choice, she is going straight from bottle to cup!

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  32. Oh my gosh! Thank you so much!!! I have been working with my son on drinking from a regular cup, but have had such a hard time finding one small enough for him to really try to use…even some small sippy cups seem daunting to him (he is 11 months). I would NEVER have thought to use a shot glass, but it makes perfect-wonderful-amazing sense!

    I was just thinking tonight that I need to be more consistent in trying to get him to use a cup and I will start this tomorrow! Thanks so much!

  33. My kids used sippy cups, but I do love this idea.

    Funny story: I remember when my nephew was born. He wouldn’t nurse for a bit, so they gave hims formula from a cup. My sister’s MIL said, “Oh my goodness, look at that. He can drink from a cup. He’s the smartest baby EVER!!!”

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  34. The same thing happened to me. I thought sippy is what we HAD to use until my mother in law handed her a cup at 13 mo and away she went. She uses both now, but the next is going to use a cup only. (I mean seriously, sometimes we forget these baby items have only recently existed…there were no sippys 500 years ago!)

  35. we are well past that stage but I wish I had read this 11 years ago. I always hated sippy cups. Even the name.

  36. Rachel,

    You always have great no-nonsense suggestions and ideas! Thank you.

    In India, babies always drunk from cups or small glasses. I somehow had forgotten it by being here so long, thank you for reminding me, I am going to try more with my younger one, who is 15 months.

  37. I hate sippy cups. I know some other parents have mentioned that they contain messes in the car, on the go, etc…but I think that giving kids drinks in the car as soon as they squawk only fosters the entitlement that most kids of the “get it now” generation feel. Ever notice that most older kids now expect to get what they want as soon as they utter that they want it? I honestly feel that it starts at a very young age and I am trying to very hard to make sure my children don’t have that attitude…. That being said, to each their own.

  38. I was born with a cleft palate that couldn’t be corrected until I was 18 months old. I drank from a whiskey shot glass from birth. I couldn’t suck, so shot glasses were the only option. Mom spent all day helping a newborn drink from a cup rather than a sippy or a bottle.

    Didn’t hurt me any… if an infant can do it, why not an older baby?


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  39. I appreciate your choice not to let your children run around from room to room eating and drinking.I bet your mom and other older moms have a lot more common sense advice to treat you with.

    Everyone marveled at how clean the inside of our station wagon stayed with five young children. Simple. No eating in the car.

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  40. right on! It’s a testament to the power of marketing that we think babies NEED sippy cups! Amazing. I do use some sippy cups for water when we’re on the go, but I also carry my water bottle around and share it with the kids.
    It also amuses me to see my second born, when he was less than 2 years old, insisting on having his own knife and napkin besides the spoon and fork I gave him for dinner.

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  41. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Too many people let their kids be babies without encouraging them to do grownup things. I guess they don’t realize that kids LOVE trying to be like grownups! I was actually thinking about throwing out my sippy cups earlier today, as my daughter doesn’t use them. haha.

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  42. Tracy-lynne says:

    My little guy just turned one, I had a sippy cup that he drank from on occasion that my MIL bought-the dog chewed it this wkd and I am not going to replace it. He likes to drink from a straw or a cup. There are a few thing things that as a first time mom I am glad I had. 1)for bathtime someone gave us a bath ring that sticks to the bottom of the tub. It has made bathtime so much easier and I can play with my little guy in the tub longer and not have to try and hold him with one hand and wash him with the other. 2) the boppy pillow, I used it to nurse all the time and my little guy used it when he was learning to sit up and play on the floor 3) the boppy chair-my husband bought this so that he could watch our little guy and get ready in the morning-made for some super cute pics when our little guy was a baby.
    Never/hardly used-crib-scared me to put my little guy in there especially when he started rolling around. Wasted alot of $ on matching bedding, padding, mobile.

  43. AnnMarie says:

    I hate sippy cups too. But Nutmeg couldn’t get the hang of a cup for a very longtime. She had trouble drinking even with our help So we used sippy cups WITHOUT the stopper thingy. She neede the spout i guess We had to hold that for her for quite a while too.

    Took her a while to get how to use a straw later on too.

  44. I think it’s an awesome idea and makes lots of sense. . . but what do you do if you have multiples and Daddy’s busy helping with the other children in the family as they eat? Not all mothers are born with 8 arms, LOL!

  45. Espresso cups or mugs would also work well.

  46. It’s also better for speech development. “No spill” cups are the worst. They are just glorified bottles that they have to suck on…I would say, as a Speech Language Pathologist…if you are going to let them drink from a sippy cup- take out the no spill portion so they are not just sucking from a different kind of nipple on a more grown up looking device.

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  47. Our daughter is 6 months and we are starting to help her drink from a cup. I’m looking into getting a little cup for her to use but for now we give her sips out of our cup. She loves to “pretend” to drink because she watches us drink from cups and feels proud when we let her try. We’re the same way with beverages only at the table so we’re not worried about things getting spilled. I never saw the point of letting a kid drag their sippy around the house; always drove me crazy while babysitting. I’ve also baby sat 1 too many toddler juice addicts. I don’t really see the point of juice nutrition-wise so I’m going to attempt to give my daughter either water or milk with jucie very rarely until she’s like 3 years old. She’ll eat plenty of fruit without juice and won’t have the added sugars either and then hopefully I won’t have to deal with the kid banging on the refrigerator demanding: doosh? doosh? for juice. I watched a 1 year old who went after juice like it was crack and threw a tantrum if his mom didn’t let him have it. Yikes.

    Using real cups and real silverware is a very “montessori” thing to do.

  48. I’m a nurse and when I worked in the nursery we would feed breastfed babies out of little medicine cups to avoid nipple confusion (in a situation where mom was temp. unable to breastfeed). If a newborn can drink from a cup a toddler certainly can.

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  49. You are the smartest girl I know.

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  50. Jennifer says:

    I love the idea, however, we live in a small home and do not have a dining table (we eat at our coffee table in the living room), so I am a little shy about using open cups with my son. However he is almost 3, so I guess I need to “bite the bullet” and start with them. I have several shot glass sized tupperware cups that should be perfect.

  51. I love the shot glass idea! And the pictures of your babies are so cute. I love the name Lane. :)

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  52. we use little cups just like that from ikea. my little one is 18 months…tupperware has a great little cup set too (that comes with a tiny pitcher) if you want plastic.

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  53. Our son learned how to drink from a cup before age 1. He saw us doing it, and he wanted to do it. We even taught him to drink from a straw; people were amazed! Love the photo of the baby with a shot glass, lol.

    They can learn very young to drink from a small cup or glass.

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  54. My kids all gave up the bottle around 6-7 months old. Problem was that I moved them from a bottle to a sippy cup. I currently have a 2 yr old (as of saturday), 3 and 4 year old. The 4 year old will drink from whatever. He’s been off a sippy for a long time. The baby uses a sippy in bed at night. I want to rid him of this habit. My biggest issue is my 3 year old. He is addicted to the sippy for all intents and purposes. It isn’t so much the drinking as it is the chewing on the spout. He never took a pacifier but, found comfort in the cup spout. It’s time for him and the 2 year old to give up the cup at night. My 3 year old is 99% potty trained. No need to take in liquid in the night.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!!!