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Having discovered the Vital Baby brand through positive Dooyoo reviews, I have gone on to purchase several different items from their range of baby and toddler weaning products. One of my first purchases was this three stage Toddler Weaning cup which consists of a plastic beaker with three interchangeable lids, designed to support the transition from a spout to an open cup.
I was fortunate enough to find these on Amazon on offer for just £2.99, which seemed like excellent value at the time for a cup containing three different lids, each designed to manage the transition towards independent drinking. As it happened, I actually received a twinpack of cups for the price I paid which was a pleasant surprise and made the set seem a real bargain. I must admit, the fact that I paid so little for two of these training sets does make me far more inclined to be positive about them. Had I paid the full RRP of £3.99 for each set, I would feel far less inclined to be so positive as the reality is that there is only really one lid out of the set of three that has proven to be really useful and innovative. That lid alone is, however, a good enough reason to buy this set.
The first stage of this three step system is a standard sippy style lid with a soft spout. This first lid is actually identical to that provided with Vital Baby's tumbler and also includes a removable valve to give the cup the option of being used as either a non-spill or a free flow cup. As with the tumbler design, my son really struggled to use this successfully with the valve in place as it seems to involve a certain sucking technique to actually get any liquid out at all. I'm not sure whether it made any difference that my son was purely breast fed and had never used any types of bottles or teats before trying this cup but the non spill method was not a success for us.
Luckily, the rubbery valve can be removed very easily and this transforms instantly into a free flowing cup. I did find the flow from this spout to be too generous which is probably because the soft rubbery spout has three quite large holes. I've previously used the popular Tommee Tippee first cups which provide a similar free flowing spout but this Vital Baby cup seems to allow even more liquid through, probably due to the additional hole. One advantage that this version does have over the Tommee Tippee cup, however, is that the spout is much softer, making it more comfortable for younger babies, in particular. I found that liquid came out of these holes incredibly quickly, although the fact that this trainer cup has two slim angled handles on either side did help my son to learn to manage the flow much easier than he could with the handleless tumbler design.
The second stage is a rather strange looking lid, which is essentially a flat lid with a raised rim and no spout at all. Instead, the lid has two small gaps at one edge next to a slight lip. This lid is designed to encourage toddlers to learn how to sip from a rim, rather than suck as they would from a spout. When tilted slightly, the liquid slowly starts to escape through the two holes and starts to pool on the top of the lid. I introduced this lid to my youngest son when he was around eighteen months old, telling him that this was a 'big boy's cup.' My toddler absolutely loved this new development and began to refuse all other styles of cup, demanding his 'big boy' instead! He very quickly grasped that the liquid would start to come out whenever he tilted the cup and was able to drink the contents quite easily without being overpowered by the flow.
One major advantage to this style of cup over a simple open cup is that the contents don't immediately pour out if the cup is tipped up too far or knocked over. It is, however, quite easy to make a mess with this cup and it often involves a complete change of clothes for my son. Although the liquid filters through the two holes fairly slowly and evenly, it will cause spillages if tipped or held upside down for longer periods. My little one is also irritatingly fond of tipping the cup and shaking its contents over his dinner so I no longer use this type of lid at meal times, just to make life slightly easier! The other obvious drawback to this stage is that it doesn't include any cover at all so this lid is not suitable for travel or use outside of the home.
The third and final stage is intended to be the last step before drinking completely from a lidless cup. This 'lid' is actually just a raised plastic rim which simply twists on to the edge of the same cup, leaving the main body of the cup completely open. In all honesty, I don't really see much benefit in this rim at all as it doesn't help to reduce the flow or limit spillages or accidents at all. I don't really see why this rim is any better than simply moving straight on to a small lidless beaker, particularly as the capacity of this cup is pretty generous, making spills all the more inevitable (and messier!) Needless to say, I only used this rim the once and, after changing my son's entire outfit and mopping the kitchen floor, I haven't bothered with it since!
The cup itself is a high quality product and, as you'd expect, is dishwasher safe , BPA free and suitable for all forms of sterilisation and available in a range of bright colours to suit both sexes. Ours has been used on a regular basis for a year or son and is showing no sign of discolouration or any other deterioration, despite regular cleaning in a dishwasher. This set is described as being suitable for babies from nine months old upwards although I see no reason why this shouldn't be used sooner, particularly as the first lid is the same as that used in baby's first tumbler, aimed at babies from six months.
Despite my ambivalence towards the third and final stages of this set, I do feel that it is a worthy contender in a parent's weaning kit purely for the second lid which is a concept that I haven't come across elsewhere. This lid allows an increasingly independent toddler the opportunity to drink from a rim, without quite as many spills and tears as a completely lidless cup produces. I would recommend shopping around for a decent price, considering that one or maybe two of the stages may not be effectively used, but I still think this offers a level of versatility that other styles of drinking cup don't provide.
A few weeks after I started weaning Logan last year, I decided to introduce him to a cup. He would never take more than a sip or two of water from the bottle and health professionals recommend that babies should be completely weaned from bottles by the age of one, to prevent damage to their growing mouths and new teeth from the sucking motion needed to drink from teats.
Choosing the perfect cup though was difficult. Cups with spouts, or 'sippy' cups are very common, there are so many to choose from, most of which have built in or removable valves to stop them from dripping when your child drops it or leaves it upside down on your carpet. The problem with sippy cups is that your child still needs to suck to get the drink out, with or without the valve. Also, as in my younger brothers case, he drank sugar free ribena and watered down fruit juice in his free flow sippy cup which made his new teeth rot. He had to have them removed aged four.
There are 'proper' cups for sale, made of light weight plastic and of course plastic beakers. There are also cups such as the Doidy, which is much like a proper cup, but slanted to help your toddler to manage the cup better. The problem with these type of cups is obvious, no kind of lid to the cup at all, means many, many spillages, as I found with my eldest son! This style of cup is ideally what we want our toddler to be drinking from, but what I wanted was a cup to get him to this stage without too much mess.
In May my husband took me to the Baby show at the NEC and it was here we came across the Vitalbaby stand. They had plenty of baby feeding products on display, bottles, dishes, cutlery, cups and most items were in lovely, bright, eyecatching pinks, blues, oranges and yellows. Whilst browsing, I found a solution to my problem - the 3 Stage Trainer Cup.
The cup looks like many others on the market, meaning it is made of brightly coloured plastic and has two handles. The handles are quite thin in relation to many cups and measure approx 1.3cm wide and only about 4mm thick. They are made of a flexible rubber type material and shaped to make them easier to grip. The same material can be found in a thin ring around the base of the cup (giving it a bit of friction and helping it grip to surfaces) and then comes up into a kind of curvy triangular design in the front centre. There is also a measuring guide in mls and ozs on the back. The rest of the cup is made of clear plastic which is BPA, latex and PVC free. Logans cup is a gorgeous blue colour with the rubbery material being slightly darker. It is quite an attractive looking cup! My only concern was that the recommended age was 9 months plus, but they sell the sippy cup, which is the same as this cup plus the first lid with a spout aged at 6 months plus, so I decided to give it a go anyway.
There are three different lids included in the very competitive price of £3.99:
Lid 1: A screw on top with a spout in the same rubber material as the handles. The spout also has a removable non drip valve. This makes it a normal sippy cup which isn't really what we wanted but very useful in the early stages when you want to take a cup to baby group or when visiting. There is also a thin, hard plastic cover to protect the spout and keep it clean. The non drip valve is one of the best I've come across.
Lid 2: This one has a rim all the way around with a little lip to drink from. The middle is flat plastic with two little gaps where the lip is which is the only place the water can escape and controls the flow.
Lid 3: The last lid is actually just a rim, it's wide around the area that screws on but tapers toward the top which gives a smooth drinking edge. Again, there is a little lip to drink from.
We started Logan on the spouted lid (1) with a valve as he was used to having to suck to get drinks out, but it was only about a week later when I removed the valve. We had a few spluttering and coughing moments, as he was drawing more water through, but he soon was used to it, although with hindsight, we probably never needed the valve at all.
Just out of interest we tried him a couple of weeks later with the second lid, but he really didn't like it, we presumed it was because it didn't have a spout and kept trying him as we wanted him to get used to it. Obviously this lid leaks quite well if tipped up, but we found Logan managed to place it on the table easily and the rubber circle around the bottom of the cup stopped it from toppling if bumped.
This second lid was quite a short lived affair though, as impressed with himself and his new drinking abilities, he took a shine to drinking from Oakleys plastic beakers and in all fairness, he managed quite well, but we had a few mishaps as they were too big for his little hands, he coped much better with his cup as it has handles. We started him on the last lid and he got a lot of use from it, although he did seem to prefer drinking from it the wrong way around as he didn't like the little lip.
I would recommend this cup, Logan was drinking 'properly' by 9 months, which was much sooner than my eldest and my worries about him not managing a proper cup were short lived, he quickly learnt to pick it up and put it down properly. The handles are nice and thin, so really easy for little ones to grip. It's dishwasher proof, and still looking good over a year later even though it does have a few little scratches around the base. I think the price is excellent for three different cups, it will save both money and cupboard space and I will definitely be buying another one in the gorgeous pink for Ruby.