I have a hate/hate relationship with sippy cups.

Okay – I do love that my kid can take in liquid without creating a cleanup catastrophe worthy of an oil spill relief crew, but I mostly hate them because NO sippy cup manufacturer in the free world seems to know how to make a truly drip-free sippy cup.

I think we can all agree that when it comes to baby products, the only thing worse than The Sippy Cup Stage is The Baby Food Stage.

When Noah came Of Age, I decided to go with Nuby.  They were the only soft-tipped sippy cups I could locate in the vast aisles of brightly colored drinking implements, and Noah was having trouble grasping the concept of traversing the great divide between bottle and sippy.

I’d had trouble with Nuby cups leaking when Ali was a baby (but then again I’d had trouble with EVERY brand leaking when Ali was a baby), but Nuby’s packaging screamed throughout the cup aisle all of these flowy exclamations about “new and improved!” and “leak-proof!!”, so I decided to give them a second chance.

But most importantly, they said “Easy to clean with no valves or removable parts!!” and that really sold me.  There’s nothing more dreadful than taking apart sippy cups, getting each piece situated carefully in the dishwasher so that none of the sippy organs end their lives sizzling on the heat element, and then reassembling while simultaneously trying to keep one’s toddler from climbing into the dishwasher and chewing on the mechanisms or, if the dishwasher is freshly cleaned (which it never is), sizzling on the heat element himself.

So I bought a few.

Noah finally figured out how to use them, and being that he is quite the heavy drinker, they became the annoying photobomber of every shot I attempted.


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They worked okay and didn’t leak, so I showed my consumer confidence by investing more heavily in Nuby product.

(Because I’m a firm believer in the impossibility of having too many sippy cups or jammies – they are the sole controllers of how often you have to wash dishes or do laundry.)

Soon after my second stock up, the first ones began to drip.

Every time Noah turned the cup sideways or upside down (which was always), they’d leave a little trail on the floor.

Drip, drip, drip.

Fortunately, my OCD one year old enjoyed this, feigning horror and screaming, “MESS!!! WET WIPE!!!”, and then, upon being rewarded with the gift of a moist towelette, would laboriously clean his trail.

Unfortunately, the excitement and intrigue of cleaning his own trail only lasted approximately 4.35 days.

And then it was all about ignoring his mess and, when I wasn’t looking, giving the sippy an extra shake or two to enhance his burgeoning trail.

I began to think evil thoughts toward Nuby.

I began to allow myself to dwell in nasty daydreams about Nuby.

And, as my floor took on a permanent sticky sheen, I began to hate Nuby.

But my uncomely hatred created a window for Nuby to hate me back.

As I was unloading a dishwasher full of Nubies, I happened to look at the underside of one of the lids.



No.  No that’s not.

Is that…. mold?!?!?!

I looked closer.


The sippy cup was screaming through a megaphone for the world to hear,


Between the rubber lining and the lid (pieces that were not, according to the directions, supposed to be taken apart) – a repulsive, vomit-inducing layer of black mold had taken up residence.

And my precious baby had been spilling drinking from that cup.

I looked in another.  And another.


They all had it, in some quantity or another.

Horrified, I figured out how to remove the entire rubber lining, then put them all back through the dishwasher, now completely disassembled.

(Because nothing is worthy of hand washing, including but not limited to delicately knit sweaters, children, sequined garments, my great-great-grandmother’s heirloom tablecloth, or sippy cups with fungal parasites.)

They came out clean, so I reassembled each one with no small amount of difficulty.


The leaking reached new heights.

Now they all let loose a steady waterfall when held at the slightest of angles.  The seals were broken (previously held securely in place by fungal friends), and their ever-so-marginal good behavior was a distant memory.

In a fit of uncontainable anger and malice toward Nuby, I rashly bought great quantities of sippy stock in the first alternate sippy cup brand I could find.

And they’re already all leaking.

I hate sippy cups.

64 thoughts on “Death by Sippy Cups.

  1. I agree with you on the sippy cups. I tried all kinds. Including the Nuby ones when Ava was little. Even buying the expensive ones too. They all leak. I love the idea of not having a giant spill, but the little drips and puddles everywhere were just as annoying. I was so glad when Ava transitioned into the cups I could keep a lid on and just use a plastic throw away straw and she would keep them on the table or counter. Ewww on the mold. I hated how that would grow on the cups. Ava used to use the Dr. Brown bottles as a baby and it came with this tiny little brush so I used those to clean all the little pieces, but I know there were places that little brush couldn’t get. You should send those pictures to Nuby and let them know about their product.

  2. Yep, hate them, too. I’ve been introducing “big girl cups,” but that comes with its own set of problems. And after years of taking sippy cups into every room, Willow doesn’t understand why she can’t just carry her cup of juice or milk around the house. I’ve tried giving her water bottles instead (the kid-friendly kind with a pop-top), but they are impossible to clean if they have anything besides water in them.

  3. UGH! I absolute despise sippy cups! My favorites at that stage by far were the playtex ones, but I wouldn’t even recommend THEM. I will, however, recommend the most costly of suppy cups. The kids nalgene. My 6 year old and 2 year old LOVE these cups, and they never leak. If you are brave to try another, research those. (We’ve tried the camelbak version and they have too many pieces. We also REALLY love the thermos ones – star wars to be exact, but the child has to open and close it himself.)



  4. We use the same cups, and you are supposed to separate the clear rubbery part from the lid. Of course, even with doing that it can get gross inside , so I try to use them only for water. We make a point to only have milk in the highchair. It’s hard to judge the point where kids no longer need constant access to hydration, so they don’t need to carry around a cup all the time. Good luck with your quest against leaking!

  5. The directions say that you aren’t supposed to take them apart? I guess I didn’t read the directions. My problem isn’t the leakiness, but rather that my daughter likes to get a mouthful of liquid and then squirt it out instead of swallowing. Though she does occasionally engage in the “turn upside down and shake it all out” action.

  6. Oh wow!!! I found some mold in one of Anderson’s bottle parts this week & freaked & promptly threw it in the trash can! Dr. Brown bottle has like a bajillion parts! But they’re pretty good about not leaking, not that you’re in the market ;-)

    Anyways, I’ve heard great things about the Tommy Tippy (sp?) brand sold at target & might actually go get some this week. Maybe those would work better? I have no real clue since I’m at the very, very early beginning of my 1st sippy cup phase! Happy Drinking, Noah!

  7. I’m a mother of the year, too! I hate sippy cups. I went to fix my son some juice in one, and just happened to lay the top on the side, which caused me to see the mold. After I almost vomited, I went through a major cleaning spree and scrubbed ALL of his sippy cups, by hand, in water that was almost too hot for me to stick my hand in.

    With that being said, these are my favorite sippy cups.


    They don’t leak if they’re closed properly, and the only have one part to remove to clean, which is easy to put back in place. They’re not too much of a pain, in my opinion. :)

    1. Thanks for the tip! I’ll try Playtex next – those always worked for Ali, but I hate those valves. But it’s worth it to escape the leaking and mold!

  8. Ugh, the mold! SO gross. You’d think they’d come up with a design where that wouldn’t happen, considering their products go in children’s mouths. I’ve gotten very adept at taking sippy cups apart for cleaning and reassembling them leak-free. Don’t ask how I do it. I have no idea. My husband can’t even do it. So I’m the one on Sippy Cup Duty. Hey, he changes all the poopy diapers when he’s home, so I figure we’re even. :-)

  9. I second the playtex ones! I start with the nubies since they have the soft spout, but after they get the hang of the sippy, I switch to the hard spout playtex ones. I never read the directions on the nubies, and always took them apart. I learned with AK that you have to pay very close attention when putting them back together to make sure there is a good seal. Otherwise they leak like a sieve. AK is on to the straw version of the nuby and the playtex ones that have more of a “sip like a regular cup” spout and regular cups if we are at the table. This too shall pass all too soon :)

  10. Oh. I forgot to mention…we use the basket thingies (the one for utensils and the one for baby stuff) so we don’t lose the parts to the dishwasher.

  11. We got the Klean Kanteen which is metal for durability, it’s BPA-free-ness, and above all, because everything else leaked for us. We’ve now had it for at least a year and still absolutely no leaking! It’s expensive though so we have just one and use it for only water. Ours is just the silver color but they do sell painted versions if colors are important. You can cheaply buy new spouts (it can use Phillips Advent hard spouts) which I did just to easily switch out if I needed to clean it quickly but didn’t have time to fiddle with the little parts at the moment (actually the spout piece is only 2 parts). Anyway, I highly recommend it.


  12. Benjamin refused a bottle at 5.5 months (we were on vacation + had to throw out pumped milk = tragedy on all fronts) so we moved to a sippy cup earlier than I expected. He didn’t understand holding it up so he never really drank from them either. However, we found an AMAZING one and if we laid him on his back he could drink from it (hello, gravity!). They are only 4oz which makes them perfect for little hands and are Babies R Us brand. He has them in yellow/green and blue/green (they also had pink/red) and when he would walk around with his new “toy” it NEVER leaked! …Except when he shook it too hard and the valve fell out and then they poured like a faucet. Our pediatrician encouraged us to move to straws so we have tried numerous straw cups. We began with Avent (we have everything Avent….bottles, pacifiers, sterilizer, etc.) and have stuck with them because they’re the best so far but even they leak. The leak I hate the most is the pressure one where the liquid (milk or water, doesn’t matter) seeps up the straw silently and puddles wherever it has been left, in addition to of course dripping when shaken. We tried Nuby’s straw cups and they failed. I have a CamelBak but have had water creep up the straw in that as well (plus it molded BAD one time) so I haven’t tried that one for Benjamin. I am looking forward to seeing what others have had good luck with to limit my sippy cup shopping binges! =)

  13. I agree about the Nuby. I loved the soft spout for transitioning from nursing to cup, but once my girls started getting teeth, they started chewing on it, and it would leak. The two brands of sippy cups that have NEVER leaked for us (that we’ve been using for 4 years now) are The Learning Curve– http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3955973&CAWELAID=480496064&pla=plab&cagpspn=pla and Gerber Graduates Sip & Smile– http://www.walmart.com/ip/Gerber-Graduates-Sip-Smile-Soft-Spout-Spill-Proof-7-Ounce-Cups-2ct/16780048.

  14. I’ve never had a problem w/nuby but I only use them for water so drips don’t get sticky and make me notice them I guess. My kids only get milk in those take and toss cups with the lid and straw and they only get it at meals so the cups never leave the table. I never give them juice. Poor deprived children. :)

    1. A battery-powered bottom?? I haven’t seen those. But they sound annoying.

      And it sounds like Playtex is definitely the winner among readers – I’ll have to go back to them.

  15. You need a new strategy. Here’s mine. 1) Nuk (with the removable valves). They only minimally leak. Worth the valve assembly effort IMO. 2) N
    ever reassemble right out of the dishwasher. Laziness and procrastination are key. I reload all the cups in the cabinet and throw all the lids and valves in a plastic bin that lives on top of my microwave. I reassemble as needed when they’re whining for drinks at my feet. 3) soak all lids and valves in bleach water about once a month to kill any mold or mildew (or as needed when it appears). Then run through dishwasher. Voila. I agree they’re a total pain, though…

  16. Also a true hater of spills and sippee cups in general I switched to the tommee tippee explora cups. They are awesome. With twin girls we have had minimal leakage issue with these cups and have had the same 4 for over 6 months now. There have been occasional drips but I have found that it was caused mostly by a dislodged valve due to the fact that twin A insists on throwing her cup on the floor whenever possible. Never had a mold issue and I always run through the dishwasher. Good luck!


      1. I own my own daycare business. Purchased Tommee
        Tippee cups as one of my kids was using them and they seemed nice. After about one month of use, I thought I would check them, and sure enough there was mold growing in the valve. Mentioned it to the mother of the child and she checked hers and they all had mold also.
        I have had Playtex sippee cups for many years that haven’t shown even the slightest hint of mold EVER!

  17. We have a product called Milton, its a sterilizer for bottles dummies etc that I never used until we had sippy cups, just wash as usual then soak in the solution for a couple of hours and all nasties are gone. It comes in liquid or as tablets I use the tablets and make it up a little stronger for things like mouldy sippy cups or the silicone spoons that get mould in them as well!

  18. I would agree with the consensus that the Playtex cups are great! They leak a little bit, but I was sold on the fact that there are only three parts to wash and put together (after using Avent bottles, it made these cups seem so simple!). :)

  19. i feel your pain. we have playtex as well and they do pretty well. there is still some leaking, but not like you’ve been talking about. and oh, once i lost one of noah’s sippy cups and didn’t even realize it until weeks (maybe over a month?) later when i was cleaning around his toys. the milk had completely curdled and nastified. i quickly emptied it and began rinsing it out before i realized – there is NO way i’m giving this back to him! then i correctly threw it out :)

  20. Ugh. I remember using sippy cups with my oldest daughter… and the dreading drips everywhere. When my son was born, we decided to do something totally un-American – we skipped the sippy cups! At five months old, I held a regular, tiny cup to his mouth and let him practice drinking. We did this every time we gave him solids, and he got good at it within a month or two. He is 16 months now, and we are sooo glad that we don’t have sippy cups to take apart or bring everywhere that we go. I did receive a free one in the mail, and when he got the flu last month I attempted to give it to him in hopes that he would take in more fluids. He looked at me like I was crazy, so I held the spout to his mouth and he did nothing. LOL poor baby didn’t try to drink at all. Oh well. He can use a straw, too, so that is handy when we go out. My 3-month-old will probably start solids in a few months, and we plan to skip the sippy cups with her, too.

  21. In case you need one more positive vote for playtex, here’s mine! Thought Nuby was perfect until all of the sudden it wasn’t, but like someone else mentioned, it was a great way to transition from bottle to sippy. Even after switching from Nuby to Playtex, we had a little bit of a hard time as playtex requires high suction. And playtex isn’t perfect, we’ve still had a couple of leaks. I think I’m with Rachel…next time, there will be no sippy stage if I can help it.

  22. I have a 2 year old niece who loves to drink out of sippy cups. When I knew that I was going to be an aunt I asked my aid from school which ones I should buy when we went shopping with my school. She said that she used Nuk for her 2 kids when they were little. They are the best sippy cups because they never and I mean never leak no matter what position my niece holds it in. So maybe you should try going with Nuk as well.

  23. Um I have those same Nuby sippy cups and you ARE supposed to take them apart or of course this is going to happen.

    1. That’s exactly what I was thinking, I take my son’s out every single time I wash his cups! How can u not notice that??

  24. I’m sorry but those clear silicone mouth pieces are meant to be taken out and cleaned, and if you haven’t noticed the mold before now, they haven’t been being cleaned properly. I take my son’s spouts out every single time I wash his cups, to avoid this issue.

    1. I agree completely with Tara my two year old cups don’t look anything like that and it’s because I take out that plastic piece and also make sure it’s dry beforehand

  25. I didn’t read that you aren’t supposed to take them apart either and I try to make sure they are completely dry but my still leak and it because my son likes to stick his fingertips into the rubber nipple which makes the hole bigger or he bites it I tried hi on the hard plastic ones and he looked at it like what am I supposed to do with this!?!… lol

  26. You are supposed to remove the silicone spout from the lids when you’re washing them! Washed and dried correctly mould WILL NOT form!

  27. I know I am a few yrs late cementing about the sippy cups but tomee tippy ones get mold.too. the best cup I have found thru yrs of babysitting, my own child who now has 4 babies and thru experiences with my.grandchildren are NUK.. I have used every cup they have ever made. they come.apart for cleaning, the cups themselves are just one piece, the kids are usually 2 pieces. I have alot of the NUK cups. they do not leak. the NUK 360 magic is the absolute BEST! DOESNT LEAK AT ALL, comes apart for proper cleaning. It is even shake proof! Just my.opinion on the whole sippy cup battle.

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