You might be surprised to see EnviroBecca touting the virtues of anything disposable. After all, I’m all about cloth diapers and hankies and reusable menstrual gear and real dishes even at picnics and just generally reusing everything!
Notice I said semi-disposable. The sippy cups we prefer are lightweight polypropylene similar to those Gladware and Ziploc containers for storing leftovers–you can wash and reuse them for years, but they’re so inexpensive (<$1 each) that you can treat them as disposable when the situation warrants it: give them away along with the contents, give up on retrieving one that’s rolled under someone else’s parked car, or discard one after something goes moldy in it. And when you do discard them, they’re recyclable!
Recent conversations have led me to realize that some parents are unaware of this affordable, convenient option in sippy cups, so here’s a picture to help you recognize them in your local drugstore, supermarket, or discount store, and here are some more reasons why they work for us:
- They’re easier to clean. Most of the expensive sippy cups have a valve and some interior grooves that are prone to mildew. The semi-disposable type have a smooth interior and a one-part spout, and they’re transparent so you can see if there’s any gunk remaining. If milk or juice gets stuck in the tiny holes of the spout, a 10-minute soak in hydrogen peroxide usually will remove it.
- They don’t lead to breastfeeding problems (if used to give pumped milk to a baby who won’t take a bottle when away from mom) because the one-part spout with small holes requires more suction than a valved spout, so the baby doesn’t become a lazy sucker.
- They don’t contain bisphenol A or vinyl, both of which were common in expensive sippy cups until recent publicity about the health risks. Polypropylene (#5 plastic) has no known risks.
- Because the lids snap on rather than screw on, the cup has a smooth rim that’s comfortable for your mouth if you want to drink without the lid. Consequently, we often use these cups for the whole family when we’re away from home, putting on a sippy lid only when our 4-year-old requests one. Only the keenest observer will notice that your solid-colored plastic cup has a widdle doggy with checkered ears embossed on it!
- They’re really pretty durable. We’ve bought a total of 12 in 4 years, and we’ve still got most of them. They do get damaged if your child decides to chew on them. Oh, and if a semi-disposable sippy cup is very full and is hurled with great force at a hard surface, it can explode like a bomb–we learned that the exciting way!
- They’re so thin that they stack very nicely, so a large supply takes up only a small space in the cabinet. It’s nice to have enough for all the guests at a toddler’s birthday party–and if you buy a pack with a variety of colors, you can mix cup and lid colors so that each child has a unique-looking cup.
The only bad thing I’ve heard about them is that some babies (particularly those who are bottle-fed) are unwilling or unable to suck hard enough to use this type of spout . . . but they generally outgrow that after a few months.
We never encouraged our kid to walk around with a sippy cup all the time (may be bad for dental development; might turn him into one of those adults who can’t survive without a bottle of water at all times) but they sure are handy for long car trips, picnics on uneven territory, and transporting beverages from place to place!