Saturday, January 27, 2007

Klean Kanteen Sippy Cup Review

Last year, GreenDaddy’s parents considered retiring early and becoming entrepreneurs: they wanted to manufacture an invention – they hadn’t decided on it yet – in their native India, and then sell in the states. Around this time GreenDaddy and I discovered that there was no such thing as a sippy cup made out of stainless steel, and we thought: that’s it! Mom and Dad can make sippy cups in India, the land of stainless steel innovations!

Why did we care so much about stainless sippy cups? It wasn’t so much they had to be stainless steel, we just didn’t want them to be made out of plastics that leach hormone disruptors into food – we’ve written a lot about this here, and here and here. Our family doesn’t eat off of any plastic substance: all BabyG’s bottles were glass, her high chair is wooden, we store leftovers in glass containers.

When it came to be sippy cup time there was no such thing as a non-plastic one. At first, we opted to teach BabyG to sip from a normal cup, which is fine at the kitchen table, but on long stroller or car rides, she wants a little something to sip, you know? Ergo our dream of getting rich on stainless sippees.

Of course, neither of us were good enough capitalists to do more than email a stainless steel manufacturer in his home state in India. Meanwhile, I regularly googled “non-plastic” sippy cups, and eventually hit up on discussions on the mothering.com forums and Berkley Parents Network announcing rumors of Klean Kanteen’s product. We bought it as soon as it was available.

The Klean Kanteen Sippy Cup costs a pretty penny – around $15 on sale. You can buy a matching, Built NY insulated sleeve and spend $20 on everything. We didn’t buy the sleeve, as $15 is already a hefty price for a sippy cup, but people who did buy it love that it keeps drinks at the temperature you want them, and say it makes them easy to attatch to strollers, etc. I wish I’d gotten one because when it gets hot here, cold water stays cold for about two seconds.

The body of the Klean Kanteen is made from recycled stainless steel, and it doesn’t have an epoxy coating inside. It features an adaptor that changes it from a kid-sized, stainless steel water carrier into a sippy cup. The actual drinking spout is the regular Avent toddler spout, and though we haven’t tried it, I have read that any Avent spout or bottle nipple can be used. I have read a few reviews from customers complaining that the spouts leak, but if they switch to a different Avent spout, that problem goes away. Ours doesn’t leak, though.

Design-wise, I am not the number one fan of the Klean Kanteen. When BabyG first tried to use it, at 9 months old, it was awkward for her to lift the 7 and a quarter inch long canister high enough. At 13 months, it is still awkward. The container is fat at the bottom – regular, adult sized, water bottle fat – and a little thinner at the top, where kids are supposed to grasp it. This means that the greatest weight of the liquid rests in the fat part, and the baby has to pivot that weight around, more or less, from the thin part. I mean, if you had a giant object that was wide and heavy on one side and skinny on the other, you would have troubles picking up the skinny side, too. It's physics.

Moreover, the baby has to tip the bottle extra high to make the water spill from the fat part of the canister “up” into the thinner part. All and all, it just doesn’t make much physical sense. Better if the whole bottle were thin, or there was an easy to grasp part in the middle.

Another feature I don’t like, is how the adaptor that converts the Klean Kanteen from a basic stainless steel water bottle into a sippy cup, is made from #5 polypropylene, as is the actual sippy spout part (which is an ordinary Avent sippy spout top).

Of course, if you’re going to use plastic, #5 is “an okay one” -- meaning it isn’t “known” to leach, but that it is hazardous to make. Bisphenol-A, that hormone disruptor scientists noticed leaching out of plastics #7 (which many baby bottles and sippy cups are made out of!), has not been caught leaching out of polypropylene. At it doesn’t contain the carginogens like plastic # 3 (the plastic pre-wrapped sandwiches, etc) or #6 (Styrofoam) is suspected of carrying.

As somebody who believed all plastics were healthy as no-sugar apple pie until just a couple years back, and who has read that no matter the safety rating, one should never put plastic in their mouth or heat food in plastic, I admit I’m not completely sold on the safety of plastics not “known” to be hazardous.

Still: if you don’t want your baby drinking water or juice or milk or whatever it is you feed her out of materials that are either “not known to be” or “known” to be made out of carcinogens or hormone disruptors, and you really need a sippy cup, none of my complaining matters a single iota: The Klean Kanteen is the ONLY sippy cup that is mostly made out of a non-plastic material.

If water sits in your car on a hot day, it will be touching the stainless steel, not the plastic. And Klean Kanteen never develops that plastic taste, even if you leave the same water in there for a couple days.

I think Klean Kanteen saw the need for the stainless sippy cup, and they converted a product they already had to answer a growing consumer demand. They’re a good company, and I’m grateful they’ve created this product. I think many of the design “flaws” are more results of not actually having designed their “kids cup” to be a “sippy cup” for babies.

However, I’ve been reading around the web, and here and there people have mentioned the existence of stainless steel sippy cups at expos, etc, that are actually designed for toddlers. I bet by the time BabyG is a few years old, there will at least a couple better options. Heck, maybe GreenDaddy and I will visit a stainless steel plant when we visit Gujurat, this summer, and actually become stainless steel sippy moguls ourselves.

Until then, I do recommend the Klean Kanteen, and we will continue to use ours. When I lost the first one, I shelled out the excessive moolah, and bought another. I believe the Klean Kanteen is safer for my baby than the other options available. I'd like it to be more steely. I'd like it to cost less. And yes, it’s awkward -- but, hey, at least in this aspect it’s giving BabyG an early lesson in adapting to the imperfections of the world.

14 comments:

Henitsirk said...

Sounds like a great product, a few years too late for my kids though.

I've wondered about getting glass containers for refrigerator storage, but I've always been stopped by the idea that they won't seal and will spill. Any thoughts or experience with that?

*angie* said...

I love you're review. I, too, store everything in glass. I'm in the process of reading Living Green by Greg Horn and just realized that I'm giving our 2 year old a plastic sippy which water sits in all day. Terrible. I stumbled across your blog when I googled "glass sippy cup." Please keep me updated if you manufacture a great stainless one. Thanks! www.hydrangeablossoms.blogspot.com

Von said...

Great article! I actually just ordered 2 klean kanteens for my son as well. As i was researching, i came across a new line by Thermos, which supposedly keeps beverages cold up to 6 hours. It does have plastic accents though--and it's no cheaper than a KK.
http://www.thermos.com/Product_detail.aspx?CatCode=Foog&SubcategoryID=43&ProductID=734

MaGreen said...

thanks for the heads up, von. i have emailed the Thermos sippy cup maker to find out more about the product...

magreen

Sonia said...

Thank for featuring reviews such as these on your blog. I come here often and really appreciate your offering greener solutions to the everyday products one uses especially those for baby. I had sought your help while choosing cloth diapers and once again commend you for this post. It has been very helpful since my son will use nothing else but the avent spout, so I'm glad this will work for him.

Raloon said...

Does anyone know a good alternative to freezing breastmilk in breastmilk storage plastic bags? I'm trying to get plastic out of my baby's life and here I am freezing his milk in plastic! Help...

To the previous message regarding glass 'tupperware': We use the pyrex storage containers with plastic blue lids. Yes, the lids are plastic but the food doesn't normally have much contact and the glass bottoms are very convenient for reheating in the microwave. We have found that they definitely don't leak- even carried sideways in lunch bags- but the lids start to rip and get old after a year or two.

Anonymous said...

You can make your own glass and silicone sippy cups out of a Smuckers jelly or Smuckers ice cream topping jar and a Nuby sippy cup top. Buy extra Nuby sippy nipples (come in two packs) and cut one down so that it is just a silicone washer. Stuff the silicone washer into the Nuby cap and screw it onto the smuckers bottle. If you want to protect the glass from drops that might shatter the glass, buy a neophrene beer bottle cozy (try a drugstore) and cut the top off.

Leah's Mom- Kristl Tyler

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

I've been using the Klean Kanteen cups for about 18mos, starting when my kids were 2 & 3 yrs. old each. I used the avent (sippy) tops-- but I think it was hard to suck the drink out of for the kids---

We switched to the sport top-- and ever since then they are just the best cups ever. I wish I would have started with the sport top originally--

Also, just an fyi-
The cups are very cold to hold so we always have them in a little huggie/coolie type thing...
We love these cups!

Great blog-- I'm going to go read more of it now!

Anonymous said...

I really liked the comment about using the Smuckers jars and nuby lids. It works great! I don't even think you need the extra washer especially if you use the sport sipper top of the nuby cups (but they both work for me without leaks as long as I screw them on properly). I actually like it better than the kleen kanteen and wish I had tried it first before ordering one but I found out that you can use the nuby top with the kleen kanteen as well if you use the adapter but not the lid with spout-it just screws right now where the black cap and avent sipper top would go. Just the sippy part will not fit but the whole lid will.

Anonymous said...

Making your own sippy cups: Thanks for the great idea however I am not sure what you mean by a Nuby cap or a Nuby nipple and where do I get a silicone washer? Sorry but I am very new at all of this but am excited to make a sippy cup! Thanks

Nicole said...

After all the stuff in the news about BPA, I switched my toddler to stainless steel sippys from Klean Kanteen. He really likes it and I love how easy it is to wash and the fact that I feel totally safe letting him drink from it.

Right now, they're available on ReusableBags.com for 45% off with a special coupon good thru Feb 1. Here's the code: SALE20.

So I'm going to pick up a couple more!

Anonymous said...

Could someone please honestly tell me: Is it okay or not to put acidic beverages such as apple or orange juice into these (stainless steel containers)? I bought a bunch of sippys for my baby (instead of plastic) but now this is a concern.

Lisa said...

I just found out kleen kanteen bottles are the kind of stainless steel that has a lot of (carcinogenic) nickel in them: 18/8 stainless (instead of 18/0) which has less nickel.

Does anyone know of stainless steel in the better grade of stianless?

Lunaemica said...

I just ordered one so I can't speak to the quality yet but this site:
http://stores.greenvirginproducts.com
Has stainless sippy cups that are supposedly made in the same place as the Klean Kanteens and take the same covers. They're about half the price of the Klean Kanteens. Figured I'd pass the info on in case anyone wanted to give them a try.
:)