Pros: No spill, no leak straw cup
Cons: No drink cup too
My Needs are So Simple they are Difficult to Meet
Part of getting ready for our next vacation required finding the ultimate travel cups for my three children: straw cups, sans valve, with twist on lids. I've been spending a small fortune looking for one that might be acceptable. First up was the Nuby Flip-It Vari-Flo Straw Cup.
Attempting to Reengineer a Cup
I went into the purchase know that it was unlikely to work as manufactured. We do not use cups with valves at home, and they always seem to stymie my children. While it would be easy enough to pop the valve out of most non-straw cups, those just aren't dignified enough for my 5 1/2 year old. She would rather dehydrate than drink from a covered cup using anything but a straw. My only hope was to purchase a cup where I could just pop out the valve and be done with it.
I pulled apart and washed the five piece design; already I was not liking this cup. There was the 12 oz insulated cup, the screw-on lid with sliding straw protector, the rigid plastic straw in the cup, the silicone valve and the soft silicone drinking portion. From the design it was obvious that I could not eliminate the valve, but I decided to give it a go with my kids anyway since I had already opened it.
Not One, but Two Obstacles
Not only do my children have to suck incredibly hard to overcome the pressure of the valve, they also have to figure out how to manipulate the opening of the straw. The drinking end of the straw is not your typical open straw, it is covered with an almost solid membrane of silicone with three vertical slits cut in the surface. By compressing the soft silicone straw the slits open up to allow children to suck up whatever is in their cup. .
My 5 1/2 old was the first to try, "I think you put it together wrong, Mommy. It doesn't work." My almost four year old whined, "I can't drink!" but I think my 2 year old summed it up best when he tried to take a drink, looked at the cup and dropped in the floor. I am happy to say that no milk spilled out; of course none of my kids were able to drink from it either. I gave it a try and could understand their frustration. Not only do you need to apply sucking power usually reserved for a super-thick milk shake, you also need to gently press down on just the tip of the straw with your lips to open up the flow. It is all very dainty but most people I know, including my kids, take a straw into their mouths and past their teeth to drink; I don't know anyone who keeps the very 1/4" end of the straw just on their lips.
The best thing I can say about this design, is that the drinking end of the straw is oblong so you can only assemble the straw so the slots are aligned to drink in the normal orientation. But I never claimed my kids were normal. My two year old doesn't recognize the "proper" orientation of the cup, and attempts to drink from the side. If he could actually suck long enough to get up his milk and then gently compress the tip of the straw, drinking from the side as he likes to try actually ends up further compressing the slits making it nearly impossible to drink from the cup.
All The Rest
So if for some reason you really want to make your children work for their milk, here are a few more things to know about this Nuby. The straw protector is fairly easy for children to operate but since this is a spill proof and drip proof cup that should not be an issue; the easier to open the better as far as I am concerned. I can't say that I noticed this cup keeping milk colder than our non insulated cups, but I did let the girls take the cup outside so that probably wasn't a fair test. But this cup is a single layer of plastic. My brief testing showed that the hourglass design fit in the couple of cup holders I had for testing as well as making it easy for the kids to hold. All five pieces washed up fine in the dishwasher and Nuby claims replacement straw units are available.
I cannot think of any good reason to purchase this cup. Nuby simply made it too difficult for children to actually drink from their Flip-It Vari-Flo Straw Cup. Sure, it isn't going to spill, but I wouldn't want to find one of these in a desert oasis either.