The following piece was originally featured on Four To Adore, a personal blog by Twiniversity and contributor Amber Shawver. Amber is mom to quadruplets (2 boys, 2 girls) and you should really check out more of her work here.
About a year ago my husband George and I rejoiced as we said farewell to bottles forever. After the babies were born, bottles consumed our lives. During their NICU stay we fretted over each milliliter the babies drank hoping they would learn to eat and come home. Once they were at home we found ourselves running a milk bank of our own as we whipped up gallons of formula to fill up to 32 bottles daily. Oh, and the bottle washing was the worst. Bottles invaded our dishwasher so we succumbed to hand washing a gazillion bottle parts daily. It was laborious.
Little did we know that ditching bottles meant searching for The Holy Grail: a sippy cup that doesn’t leak. No one mentions this, but toddler cups, be they sippy or straw, are a nightmare.
Some of you may be wondering why we don’t just switch to open cups. After all, open cups are supposed to be introduced around 15 months. The quads are all capable of drinking from open cups and practice routinely during snack time outside or during bath tea parties. They are not ready for open cups at every meal. They are sloppy eaters and a few of them have no qualms about chucking a cup 20 feet across the kitchen. To teach them responsibility, they clean up their messes, but they are barely two. I still have to go behind them to keep milk from souring on the tile. I’m tired. Always. When they prove themselves capable of the self-restraint to drink from open cups we will go there for all meals. In the meantime I FINALLY have a sippy cup we like for milk and another for water. It took a year to find these gems, people. A year.
In order to transition from bottles of formula to cups with cow’s milk we began with trainer cups. We tried a variety of brands and styles that I can’t even recall now. We found success with Nuby trainer cups with handles. They were similar enough to bottles with soft spouts the babies didn’t protest them. The handles helped their little hands manage a cup and learn to tip it.
As the babies grew, I wanted them to learn how to use straws. After all, the trainer cups were strikingly similar to bottles. Whereas straws are socially acceptable for any age. In fact, I love straws! I even sip coffee from a straw to keep my teeth from being coffee coated and yellowing. The babies weren’t ready for regular straws so we began using Nuby silicone straw cups. The babies took to them easily. They struggled, however, to switch between using sippy cups that should be tipped up to straw cups that needed to stay vertical. Thus, we made a total switch to straw cups.
We loved the Nuby silicone straw cups until the fateful day when Harper learned to unscrew the lid and dump his milk. We then switched to similar cups, Munchkin click ‘n’ lock silicone straw cups. These were THE cups for several months. Harper could not open them, the straws worked just like the other cups, and they were spill proof. Until they weren’t. Eventually the quads gnawed the straws and sometimes they poked their forks through the straws, which created leaks. It wasn’t long before we started having a problem with fluid funneling up through the top and making a huge mess. These were inexpensive cups so we planned to just buy new ones. Except they were impossible to find. George found Nuby’s click and lock straw cups, which seemed quite similar. We liked Nuby before so why not? Oh my! These cups were awful…leaking from the sides, bitten straws, funneling. The works. We were exasperated.
I polled moms of multiples about their favorites, and wondered IF the Holy Grail existed. Many grumbled that ALL sippy and straw cups leak.
BEHOLD, the HOLY GRAIL at last…..
My quad mama pal, Krista, and another mom of triplets both swore by the Contigo Kids Cups for water. I was hesitant to purchase them since they retail for about $10 each. Just getting one cup per kid was a $40 investment. In the meantime, I experimented with a variety of cups. All failures. I finally bit the bullet and bought a set of Contigo Kids cups.
I was easily swayed when I noticed they came in the quads “assigned” colors: pink, blue, purple, and green. The first night we had them, George attempted to dash my hopes of finding THE cup. He taunted proclaiming these were too expensive for just another cup. He practiced slinging them on the tile, turning them, and tilting them. He could not make them leak! YIPPEE!!! We used our first set for a month or two before I found them in three packs at Costco at a discounted price. I bought two packs for ourselves (spares aren’t bad) and bought a set for a triplet birthday party.
The Contigo cups are by far the best we’ve ever tried for water. However, due to the flip top valve, I think it would be rather difficult to fully clean for milk. We still needed a leak proof milk cup.
Another of my quad mama friends, Amber, suggested the Tommee Tippee cups. These were a little less expensive in two packs for $10. Again, these cups came in the “assigned colors” so I snagged one for each of the quads. I was admittedly hesitant to believe in these cups.
Rylin refused to drink from hers for well over a month because I couldn’t put a straw in it. Just recently she agreed to give it a go when I told her the Bell quads used them (peer pressure at it’s finest). One day I thought it was over, Sydney’s cup leaked. I was ready to throw in the towel on this set too. That was until another mom of quads told me she called Tommee Tippee to complain that their “leak proof” cups indeed leak. They informed her of an instructional video to properly attach the valve. I thought I knew how to work a sippy cup and tossed my directions. Low and behold if you properly attach the valve the cup does NOT leak, even when tossed by a toddler. Another perk? These cups are insulated, which is fabulous for milk.
In addition to my two favorite milk and water cups, I like to use Take ‘n’ Toss cups when I make milkshakes, applesauce drink, or smoothies. The quads cannot be trusted to drink from them regularly because they have a blast tipping them upside down to watch drips of fluid fall to the ground or table. However, they work really well for thick liquids, particularly ones I don’t want gumming up my Holy Grail cups.
Alas, all of our favorite cups in harmony at the dinner table!
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Amber Shawver began writing Four to Adore shortly after discovering she and her husband, George, were expecting quadruplets. The blog began as a means to keep family and friends updated regarding a high risk pregnancy, but writing quickly became a passion for Amber. She continues to share the journey raising girl, boy, girl, boy quadruplets (born in 2012) as it unfolds. At Four to Adore, you’ll find heartwarming and humorous anecdotes from daily life with quads, DIY projects, tips for parenting multiples, product reviews, recipes, and kid approved activities. If you can’t get enough, you’ll also find Four to Adore on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!