When it was time for my baby to drink on his own, I was at a loss. I simply did not want him to drink from plastic. I wanted to find a plastic-free sippy cup. Many plastic products marketed today boast they are “BPA-free” but this is of little consolation and raises many questions – what are they using instead of BPA?
The good news is that BPA (bisphenol-A) and other bisphenol chemicals are used only in polycarbonate plastic (recycle code #7) to make it clear and stiff. The bad news is that we do not know how safe the ingredients are in other types of plastic. Plus, plastic is a major environmental pollutant. Anyway, whenever possible (without driving myself insane), I prefer to avoid plastic.
There are not too many choices for plastic-free sippy cups. We are limited to glass or stainless steel. Even a glass bottle with a protective silicone sleeve would not withstand a powerful throw from my son. (I broke a supposedly unbreakable water bottle myself last year, and didn’t want to give my son the opportunity to equal my feat.)
So I was left with stainless steel for a plastic-free sippy cup. What is stainless steel? Stainless steel is defined as an iron-based alloy containing at least 10.5% chromium and a maximum of 1.2% carbon. There are many studies done to assess the potential toxicity of stainless steel and I have not found any study that raised serious concerns. The 2010 study done the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that under certain conditions such as heat, contact with acidic food may cause metals, including chromium, nickel, and iron to become released into food. However, the measured releases were very low compared to normal dietary intakes of these metals. After I read 87 pages of this study and other articles I was able to find on the Internet, I confirmed my original belief that stainless steel is a safer material than plastic – unless you are allergic to nickel.
Klean Kanteen Plastic-Free Sippy Cup
Materials: This Klean Kanteen plastic-free sippy cup is made from 18/8 stainless steel, which means that it is comprised of 18% chromium and 8% nickel, which also means that it does not need any additional aluminum lining (which might be potentially toxic) because the mixture of these metals provides anti-corrosive properties. (This is the same grade of stainless steel that is used in high-end professional cookware.)
The sippy cup cap is made of the safest plastic (polypropylene, recycle code #5). Any use of plastic is not ideal but given its small amount and the fact that at the time I had not seen better alternatives, I found it acceptable.
Performance: My son loves his Kleen Kanteen sippy cup. He is 4 now and still uses it from time to time. It has withstood quite a beating!
When he was a baby, he was terribly persistent, and sometimes turned the cup upside down and shook it really hard. I was impressed that when he did it, only small amounts of liquid would come out. But otherwise this plastic-free zippy cup is almost perfectly spill proof. If you buy a painted sippy cup, keep in mind that the paint does come off over time.
Where to buy and cost:
Mighty Nest, $17.95, stainless steel and 4 colored, free shipping over $50
From $14.16 – up to $16.95 on certain colors
Amazon: starting at $14.48 depending on color (I recommend paint-free one to avoid paint chipping)
And by the way, we liked these so much for our son, that we also bought a set of five pint tumblers for ourselves, and my husband LOVES this insulated tumbler:
PURA Plastic-Free Sippy Cup
Materials: The Pura plastic-free sippy cup is made of 18/8 stainless steel as well. As described above, this means that it is comprised of 18% chromium and 8% nickel, which also means that it does not need any additional aluminum lining (which might be potentially toxic) because the mixture of these metals provides anti-corrosive properties. (This is the same grade of stainless steel that is used in high-end professional cookware.)
The difference between the Klean Kanteen and the PURA is that the PURA’s top, including the sip spout, is made of silicone. Silicone seems to be safer than plastic. I say, “seems to be,” because I have not seen much in the literature on silicone leaching toxic chemicals. However, not being on the news might mean one of two things – it is a safe material or it has not been adequately studied yet. So I dug deeper and I found a few studies that indicate that silicone may also leach substances into food (see here and here).
Thus, as always, we should not assume that any silicone is absolutely safe. However, according to PURA, the silicon they use is certified to the strict European Standard 14350. That standard addresses the migration of certain elements such as antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead, mercury, etc. and the release of N-nitrosamines and N-nitrosatables as well as volatile compounds content. PURA sent me the test report.
According to the report, the silicone used in the nipples and spouts have no detectable levels of nitrosamines, nitrosatable substances, lead, antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, mercury, or selenium. The content of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is low, under the limit of European Standard 14350.
PURA emphasizes that they did not have to go through the testing, as it is not required by the US government, but did so voluntarily because they are proud of their product.
Performance: My son liked this plastic-free sippy cup initially but eventually reverted back to his Klean Kanteen – maybe because that’s what he got started with. But everybody is different. The paint on the bottle does come off also, so it is better to buy unpainted ones. And lastly, it was not easy to keep it closed. As the cap is not attached, it came off and at some point, it got lost.
Where to buy and cost:
Check out Amazon. By the way, you can use the same bottle with different extensions, including a straw. Straws are a good option for lot of kids, and are even recommended by some occupational therapists, although this is well out of my area.
Planet Box Plastic-Free Sippy Cup
I wish this plastic-free sippy cup existed when my son transitioned to a sippy cup. Planet Box (we love and use its lunch box!) recently came out with a plastic-free sippy cup. It is also made of 18/8 stainless steel and the parts that come in contact with liquid are made of silicone!
Performance: We have not used it but my friends do and they love them. The plastic-free sippy cup is absolutely leak proof. I love that the closing cap is attached and closes tightly keeping the spout clean. The latch is easy to operate by toddlers. And there is no paint so it won’t come off.
I hope this is helpful and clarifies your options for a plastic-free sippy cup. Do you have a plastic-free sippy cup favorite? Share it in the comments.