Buying Guide: Best Toddler Cups, Plates and Utensils
Parents seeking the best cups, plates, and utensils for toddlers can count on this expert advice. From spill-proof sippy cups to non-slip, strong-grip plates and bowls to the most manageable spoons and forks for little fingers, these recommended items are great for 1-4 year-olds.
Medically reviewed and co-written by Lauren Braaten, Pediatric Occupational Therapist (OT).
Toddler Cups, Plates & Utensils
Are you looking to transition your baby’s eating gear into bigger toddler sizes, but not sure where to start?
Then this is the guide for you!
As babies turn into toddlers, the way they get their nutrition changes dramatically. It’s too soon for adult-size cups, plates, bowls, spoons, and forks, so items crafted for small children are ideal as they go from purees and small finger foods to “big kid” meals.
Both age- and ability-appropriate, these recommendations are perfect for 1-4 year-olds as they mature and reach new mealtime milestones. There are so many exciting toddler products to choose from, so selecting what’s best can be confusing. Here you will find useful guidance and favorite go-to cups, plates, bowls, and utensils for toddlers. They’re as fun as they are functional, making eating a whole lot easier.
Transitioning your toddler to a “big kid” cup is an exciting milestone, but with all the products available, it can also be overwhelming! We’ll discuss some of the most important aspects we look for in toddler cups to help you choose options that best fit your little one. Read on to see our top picks for toddler cups that are durable, easy to clean, and supportive of oral motor development.
How to Make the Transition from a Bottle to a Cup
- A planned and gradual transition is best – most toddlers DO NOT do well with cutting out all bottles at once. Especially if your little one is not yet consuming a fair volume and variety of solid foods, removing a large source of their calories and nutrients in their preferred method of drinking is not recommended. It’s best to start by cutting out one bottle at a time and replacing that bottle with practice using a cup. Most parents find it’s easiest to start by cutting out midday and afternoon bottles and leave morning or nighttime bottles as the last to be eliminated. After you’ve successfully cut out one bottle, wait a few days to a week before you replace the next bottle.
- Offer a cup at meals and snacks – for instance, if you plan to start by cutting out the bottle closest to lunch time, you can offer solids foods as you normally would, and then present the cup towards the end of the meal to encourage your little one to eat food first. It may also help to offer the cup towards the end of the meal for the first several trials as the novelty may be somewhat distracting!
- A hands-on approach is key – for the first MANY times you offer a cup, it’s normal for your toddler to turn it over, dump out the liquid, or throw the cup. Get in the habit of holding onto the cup to help bring it to you little one’s mouth. If needed, take the cup off your toddler’s high chair tray when you are not practicing with it, so there’s no worry about throwing it.
- Give simple, consistent cues with each cup practice – such as “lift it up, sip, put it down.” Have your cup nearby on the table so that you can also model drinking for your little one.
- Which cup to introduce first – you could introduce a straw cup first, or you could start with an open cup (but we prefer to avoid hard spouted sippy cups, which we’ll discuss below). Sometimes starting with a straw cup can be easier, since your little one likely already had practice sucking pureed food off their fingers or eating a puree off of a spoon. However, all toddlers are different. Just consider sticking to one type of cup at a time for a couple weeks or so, in order to avoid confusion.
- Start small – both in size of the cup and amount of liquid. The options we’ve recommended below for open and straw cups and are all great sizes for little hands. And although you may do your best to help your toddler bring the cup up to their mouth, some independent learners just want to do it by themselves! Since this can make controlling the flow of liquid more challenging, make sure to start with a smaller amount of water, especially in an open cup. If your toddler continues to refuse help and still seems overwhelmed by the amount of liquid (frequent coughing may be a sign), you may want to try switching to a straw cup to see if they can handle the flow of liquid better.
- Straw length – when using a straw cup, the tip of the straw should just reach the tip of the tongue to encourage a mature swallow pattern to develop. The suggested straw cups below have straws that are a good fit for baby and toddler. If adding a straw to another cup you already have or if replacing a straw, you can also cut the straw down so that less than an inch sticks out of the cup.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can start introducing your little one to an open cup or straw cup at roughly the same time you start introducing solid foods (around 6 months of age). This DOES NOT mean that you need to stop using a bottle or breastfeeding once you start introducing a cup; the cup is simply another means for your little one to start practicing another method to consume liquids. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends weaning your baby from the bottle completely before they are 18 months of age, although pediatricians and pediatric dentists often encourage bottle weaning to start closer to 12 months of age. This is because prolonged use of a bottle may encourage toddlers to fill up on mostly liquids, which can decrease their appetite for nutrients from solid foods.
Most likely not. Handles can be helpful but are by no means necessary. If your toddler was already starting to hold his or her bottle on their own, they most likely will be able to grasp the concept of holding onto an open cup or straw cup in the same way. Cups that come with the ability to keep handles on or remove them as needed, such as the Oxo Tot cup, may be a good fit if you like having this option.
Again, most likely not. Weighted straw cups were designed so that your baby or toddler can “drink from any angle” (presumably even while they are lying down) which is not necessarily the type of position we want to encourage consuming liquids anyway. Drinking from a more upright position is best, and as long as your toddler is holding a cup properly and there’s enough liquid inside, they should be able to drink from it, without needing a weighted straw inside. Another downside of these kinds of straw cups is that they can be difficult to clean thoroughly.
Although sippy cups aren’t necessarily “wrong” when used for a short period of time to help transition off of the bottle, they really aren’t needed when you consider all the other options available. Prolonged use of hard spouted sippy cups may actually cause delays in developing a mature swallowing pattern with the tongue, which may also cause difficulties with chewing and swallowing new foods.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with “no spill” cups either (a common one being the Munchkin Miracle 360 cup) but to be honest, no cup is completely spill-proof. Often the biggest concern with these types of cups is that parents can accidentally get in the habit of allowing a toddler to walk around, sipping from them throughout the day (which is an even bigger concern if they are sipping on milk or juice). These types of cups are fine for short periods of time or when you’re away from home with your toddler, but make sure your little one is getting practice with drinking out of more than one type of cup, so they can learn how to place their cup gently without spilling.
Best Toddler Open Cups
Open toddler cups are most like the “real thing,” yet they’re designed with little hands in mind for fewer splashes and spills.
A non-slip grip and angled interior make drinking from an open cup doable for even the youngest toddlers.
- Small size is a great fit for toddler hands (holds 4 ounces, which is a nice step up from the ezpz Tiny cup of 2 ounces)
- Silicone material is gentle on toddler’s teeth and gums
- Slightly weighted bottom provides toddler with feedback to limit spills
Eco- and kid-friendly, these dishwasher-safe toddler cups are perfect for drinking practice.
- Still a great size for toddlers hands, but with a little more holding capacity (6 ounces)
- Made from durable and sustainable bamboo
- Comes in 4-pack of fun colors
Best Toddler Convertible Cups
Convertible cups or training cups are cups that can be used in multiple ways to grow with your baby and toddler. These cups can be used as a straw cup, spoutless sippy cup, or an open cup.
Made of soft silicone for sensitive teeth and easy sipping. Can be used for cold, warm, or thick smoothie beverages.
- Wide weighted base provides stability
- Translucent cup helps see how much liquid is left inside
- Easy to read indicators allow measuring for mixing and portioning
- Straw designed with small ridge to help prevent it from being pulled out of cup
This colorful batch of sippy cups are mess-free, with easy lid removal once toddlers have mastered the art of drinking.
- Sturdy and easy to clean
- Opening in lid can also fit a straw (make sure to trim the straw to keep it short!)
- Great value at $10.99 for 4 cups and lids
This petite pair of tumblers are tot-friendly with screw top lids for extra security.
- Durable double-wall, vacuum insulated stainless steel
- 8 oz size is small enough for toddler hands and light weight
- Custom silicone straw has molded-in stopper
Best Toddler Straw Cups
Straw cups for toddlers make the most of a sippy cup with a bit more maneuvering as toddlers refine their motor skills.
The 2-straw option allows for variety in drinking options, giving your tot more control and convenience.
- Easy to disassemble and clean
- Short silicone straw encourages mature oral motor development
- Flip-cap locks to prevent spills and allows toddler independence with opening and closing
- Great price compared to similar products!
Comfortable to hold and convertible, this cute cup is created for toddlers’ sipping steps and stages.
- Option to keep handles on or take them off if you choose
- Easy to clean straw and lid
- Comes in 6 oz and 9 oz for growing toddlers
Best Toddler Water Bottles for On-the-Go
For drinking outside regular dining hours, on-the-go water bottles are convenient for carrying around. Toddlers and parents alike love their vibrant colors and creative shapes.
With a handle to hold on to and that classic shape, this thermos is not only toddler-appropriate but useful for kids of all ages.
- Insulation keeps drinks cold in hot weather
- Short silicone straw encourages mature oral motor development
- Durable stainless steel interior and exterior
- Comes in a varitey of colors and patterns
The fun designs (they have a ton of patterns) and ideal size give this water bottle two thumbs up from toddlers. Safe and simple, making sipping a cinch.
- Spill-proof water bottle for on-the-go hydration
- Easy to see how much liquid is left due to clear design
- Easy to open drinking valve for toddler hands
- Comes in a stainless steel version as well
- Has a ton of different colors and patterns
12 oz. capacity means fewer refills and more refreshments. Spill-proof, sturdy, and see-through, so you can see how much liquid is left.
- Made of durable Tritan material to withstand drops and throws
- Easy to clean and carry
- Less expensive than some other options for water bottles on-the-go
Toddler Plates & Bowls
Similar to cups, there are tons of great options for toddler plates and bowls. While you may have certain factors you want to look for, such as designs, budget, and materials used (plastic, silicone, bamboo, stainless steel, etc.), here are some top tips for features to consider.
Plate & Bowl Tips
- Deeper walls – plates that have raised edges or deeper walls are helpful for toddlers who are learning to scoop with a spoon.
- Thoughts on suction plates – suction bases on plates and bowls may be helpful to prevent spills or throwing, but are by no means necessary. Keep in mind that even the “strongest” of suction plates still seem to be removeable at some point. Throwing is a phase that will pass (sometimes it just doesn’t feel like it will pass soon enough!).
- Divided or sectioned plates can be helpful – when serving meals with multiple components or when serving purees with an entrée, such as applesauce, divided plates can help. Divided plates can also help with toddlers who may have strong sensory preferences related to foods touching. However, if you have been feeding your toddler for quite some time and haven’t had the need to use divided plates, that’s perfectly fine! We’ve seen issues arise more often (and by “issues”, we mean tantrums) when toddlers have been used to using ONLY divided plates and then are asked to use a regular plate where foods might touch. Which leads to our next tip…
- Keep a mix of plates in your rotation – as your toddler gets older and starts to assert more of their independence, it’s helpful to get used to having more than just one kind of plate. This will help your little one to not get “stuck” when their favorite plate is not available at grandma’s house or when dining out.
- Consider cleaning options – are you going to want ones that are dishwasher and microwave safe? Keep in mind that silicone can absorb scents, which is why many recommend cleaning these types of plates with unscented, natural detergents.
Best Toddler Plates
Sturdy and strong are must for toddler plates. Suction plates are ideal for preventing mishaps, and dividers and edges keep food from falling off the plate.
Convenient and compact, this partitioned toddler plate is just the right size for mini-meals. Comes in a variety of shapes and colors for mealtime variety.
- Sturdy, strong suction base
- Raised edges help with scooping
- Microwave and top-rack dishwasher safe
Stackable and safe, these plates are long-lasting and everyday useful. The pretty colors are eye-catching for attracting an appetite.
- Made from eco-friendly heavyweight recycled plastic
- Dishwasher and microwave safe
- Also available in larger divided trays
The circular shape and creative compartments are ideal for snacks, sides, and meat time fun. This plate has 3 sections for perfect portions and 1 bonus section for a sweet treat, new foods, or a dipping sauce.
- Strong suction and non-slip base
- Dishwasher and microwave safe
- Three sections for dividing up food, plus a fourth section in the middle that works well for dipping sauces or desserts.
Best Toddler Bowls
Bowls for toddlers must be simple and steady. Cool colors are always an asset, and avoiding spills comes second to none.
These colorful indoor/outdoor bowls are textured for better gripping and stackable for stowing away.
- Durable, light-weight, no-fuss bowls
- Dishwasher and microwave safe
- Made from eco-friendly heavyweight recycled milk jugs
- Available in a large variety of colors
Modern and made to stay in place, this toddler bowl trio is too precious to pass up.
- Includes 3 different sized bowls
- Top-rack dishwasher and microwave safe
When choosing toddler utensils look for easy to grasp, wider handles and a size that is made for little mouths. Spoons or forks that are too wide, long or heavy make it challenging not only to get the food from the plate onto their utensil but also make it challenging to get the food into their mouth! And toddlers who feel more independent with self-feeding are often more willing to try new foods.
- Be patient with your toddler – it can take a lot of practice to learn to use utensils with ease. Self-feeding using both fingers and utensils at meals is common until your toddler becomes very efficient with a fork and spoon.
- Consider pre-loading utensils – if your toddler seems to be getting frustrated with unsuccessful attempts at using a fork or spoon, consider pre-loading the utensil for them and setting it on their plate. Offer a second utensil for your little one to keep practicing with during the meal, as you alternate a pre-loaded utensil in between their attempts.
- Start slowly practicing knife skills -although using a fork and knife together isn’t expected until 6-7 years old, you can start building in opportunities to use a toddler-sized knife to cut soft foods with your help, such as a banana or avocado.
Best Toddler Utensils
A good grip and small-sized selections are important for toddlers as they learn the literal ins and outs of eating with utensils.
These toddler forks, spoons, and knives are comfortable to hold and come in two colors. Just the right size for eating with ease.
- Ergonomic handles for easy gripping
- Stainless steel tips are sturdy enough to poke and scoop foods compared to some plastic ones
This 8-pack of colorful toddler spoons and forks are space-saving when stacked and indestructible come mealtime. Microwave and dishwasher safe.
- Good fit for older toddlers due to slightly wider spoon and fork
- Made from BPA-free eco-friendly recycled milk jugs
- Great bargain at $6.99 for a set of 4 spoons and 4 forks
The detailed design of this fun fork and spoon set makes for an easy grip due to their textured silicone handles.
- Textures silicone handles make it easy to grip
- Fork tines are angled and rounded to help poke foods safely