Having never had babies that took bottles before, I turned to fellow moms of multiples to give me some tips on what to do for the Cub Twins when they were done with bottles.
I have sincerely and truly (perhaps annoyingly to some) loved breastfeeding, but pumping milk and mixing formula in bottles was really not my favourite thing. On the one hand, I’m grateful the twins took bottles because it meant other people could help me feed. On the other hand, pumping was an exhausting and soul (milk) sucking experience, and formula is shockingly expensive. I wasn’t exactly keen to keep bottles around indefinitely …
My twin-mom-mentor (who also turns to me for help since I have experience with kids older than her twins) told me one of the best things she did was wean her kids off of bottles by a year old. At 9 months, the Cub Twins were taking four bottles a day: typically one bottle of formula and three bottles of expressed milk. At night time they nursed. I stopped formula and switched to whole milk (dietitians recommend starting whole milk as early as 9 months as long as baby is eating an iron-rich diet) around that time, and I started serving that whole milk in a straw cup. If I had enough breastmilk for that feeding, I also offered it in the straw cup, which I introduced with water when they started babyled weaning at 7 months.
Why straw cups?
Most parents think that the sippy cup is the natural next step after the bottle or breast. I certainly did! My first and second children were exclusively breastfed, and when they started solids I gave them water in sippies. When they weaned from breastfeeding around age 2.5, they were mainly taking water and cow’s milk from Munchkin Miracle Cups and from “sport top” type water bottles, which they still both do.
Using sippy cups in moderation is certainly not a parenting sin, but skipping the sippies and going straight for an open cup or straw cup can help prevent tooth decay and oral motor delays.
You can absolutely teach infants and toddlers to drink from an open cup, by the way. I just cannot handle this responsibility with my twins. Straw cups are something they can use independently, and as is likely the reality of most sets of twins with older siblings, left so often to fend for themselves, they’ll be independent and moving out by age 11, straw cups in hand. (I’ve tried to get them to use the Miracle Cups without success thus far; my older kids didn’t start using them till closer to age 2.)
Which straw cups did we try?
- Zoli BOT Weighted Straw Cup ($17)
- Munchkin Click Lock Weighted Flexi-Straw Cup ($6.39)
- Philips Avent My Bendy Straw Cup ($11.99 for a 2-pack)
- Pura Kiki Stainless Steel Straw Bottle ($35)
Which cup was our favourite?
Well, it’s not as simple as that. I can say for sure that the Munchkin Click Locks were not a success—I returned them. However, we have two Zoli BOTs, two Avent Bendy Straws and two Pura Kikis in heavy rotation.
Zoli BOT: baby’s first straw cup
The Zoli BOT straw cup was the first drinking vessel besides a bottle that I introduced to the twins.
During mealtime I would give them their Zoli BOTs with water, but they didn’t immediately start using them. They got tossed around a lot, but I persisted. Honestly, my best advice for getting baby to take a straw cup is do not give up and do not stress if the first week they ignore it or swipe it off their tray. I have experienced a great deal more “parenting wins” with the twins because I’ve, by necessity, become less of a control freak. I didn’t have time to sit in front of a twin and try to force him to sip from a straw.
At each mealtime, I’d suck the water up so it was at the tip of the straw and offer it to them, and they’d take it or leave it until they figured it out on their own. By paying very little attention to the process of them learning to sip from straws, it seemed to happen quite easily. (As compared to the hours I remember trying to teach my firstborn to drink water from various sippy cups.)
I eventually replaced the twins’ afternoon bottles with afternoon Zoli BOTs filled with whole milk or my expressed milk. The Zoli BOT straw has an x-shaped opening at the very tip that prevents liquid from escaping even when tipped upside down. But this cup is not spill proof: drop it from the high chair at the right angle, and you will get leaks from the lid or the straw.
The trouble with straws is that the straw has to be submerged in the beverage in order to really suck. Babies aren’t very good at tipping their cups and repositioning their straws as needed, so the weight attached to the bottom of the Zoli Bot straw ensures the straw is always wherever the liquid is.
The downfall of the Zoli BOT is that its straw is very hard to clean. No standard straw brush fits in the skinny silicone straw, so to clean it, you definitely need the Zoli BOT straw brush, and even with that brush it’s difficult to clean. I prefer to use it only for water for this reason. That said, the Zoli BOT straw seems to be the best option for introducing a straw to young babies because it is skinny, soft and flexible and, in my experience, much more leak-resistant than the Munchkin weighted straw cup.
You can purchase replacement straws and straw weights.
Avent My Bendy Straw Cup: affordable & easy to clean
I was skeptical about the Avent My Bendy Straw Cups because of my experience with the Munchkin cups at the same price point. The good news is that the Avent cups work great, are easy to clean, are leak-resistant and, of course, affordable. The straws are wider and can be cleaned with a regular straw brush, but may be a bit too wide to be baby’s first straw like the Zoli.
Because the straw is wider, you can use this cup to serve smoothies. The straw isn’t weighted, but, as the name implies, it is bendy! It sits in the cup at a slight angle so it stays submerged in liquid till there’s almost none left. The flip-up cover on this cup tends to get knocked off easily so I usually just leave it off.
You can purchase replacement straws and spouts.
Pura Kiki: a long-term investment
The Pura Kiki is an entirely plastic-free bottle that grows with your child: you can use it with a bottle nipple, soft silicone sippy spout, a straw spout, sport spout or just a lid. This cup is an investment, but it’s made to last and made to be used from infancy to adulthood. It didn’t take the twins long to figure out the soft silicone straw spout, but in order of difficulty for them, it was the one that took the longest. It has a no-spill valve at the top, so like the Zoli and Avent, it needs to be dropped or thrown at just the right (wrong?) angle to start leaking.
The Pura Kiki is easy to clean with a regular straw brush, and since it’s 100% food-grade stainless steel and medical grade silicone, I put it in the dishwasher too. The silicone sleeve on the outside is the only thing I don’t love—you need to remove it once a week to clean underneath it, and I don’t always remember, so some of the metal underneath the sleeve has discoloured.
Because my twins take great pleasure in dropping their bottles on the floor from their high chairs, being made of metal, this is not awesome for our floors. Unfortunately, they have managed to drop them onto our tile floor at the perfect angle to separate the metal base from the bottles.
You can purchase replacement straws and spouts, plus upgrade to different tops as your child grows.
Why the Munchkin Click Lock didn’t make the cut
After using our Zoli BOTs every day for water and breastmilk, I realized we needed a second set of cups for my sanity. Tempted by the fact that the Munchkin Click Lock was almost a third of the price, I decided to take a chance on them. Unfortunately, I found them super leaky. The valve on the Munchkin straw is about a centimetre from the tip of the straw, so when the babies would let go of the straw, the tip would still be full of milk which they would spill on themselves. I decided to return them. Luckily, the Avent cups are the same price and work much better.
There’s No Last Straw (Cup)
I wish I could tell you that one of our three types of straw cups was the be-all and end-all of straw cups. Alas, I like all three and not one of them is perfect. The Zoli is a pain to clean, but was the easiest for the twins to learn with; the Avent straw isn’t weighted and the cap doesn’t stay put; the Pura Kiki is sustainable and plastic-free but its sustainability (or that of your floor) can be limited if your child delights in chucking it from the heights of their high chair.
I tend to use the Zoli for water at home, the Avent for milk and smoothies at home (since it’s easier to clean) and the Pura Kikis for water when we’re on the go since it’s insulated and holds more liquid.
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