I went on a search for the best reusable drinking straws for kids while transitioning my children from sippy cups to regular glassware.
It took awhile to remove the cups permanently from our home. It happened when I finally broke the habit of giving the cups to them. They are mostly spill-proof and so convenient. After years of use, they were part of their routine.
With much internal fanfare, I threw them all in the recycle bin. After using those plastics for 6+ years, I was so excited to never see another one in my house again. This was a huge accomplishment! Then I began my quest for the best straws for kids.
The great news is there are many options when it comes to straws. There are options to be environmentally-friendly. Choosing reusable straws means less waste ends up in landfills. Learn the pros and cons of straws made from bamboo, stainless steel, glass, paper, and plastic.
When possible, choose reusable straws, not throwaways. Choose straws made from food-safe and food-grade materials.
Note: With any reusable straw you choose, be sure to use a straw cleaning brush to prevent mold. They are also called straw washing brushes. Also, make sure to air dry straws thoroughly before storing them.
Wide-mouth plastic straws
Best Reusable Drinking Straws for Kids
I didn’t think transitioning to an actual glass would be so difficult. I was nervous about spills on our carpet as we often have drinks in our living room.
However, I was excited about putting the glasses in the dishwasher, guilt-free, unlike with plastic. My kids weren’t very happy about the change until I put straws in their glasses. Drinks are more fun with straws.
I remember that one of the advantages of sippy cups was that less fluid remained on the kids’ teeth. I had once read that straws did the same thing. So I started putting straws in the kids’ drinks to help their teeth. (When they have water, we don’t use straws.)
And it would make it fun for them as they transitioned to glass too.
Lots of options for straws for kids
Through the years, we’ve tried many different types of straws. For sure, some were more environmentally-friendly than others. Our top choice for the best straw for kids is bamboo straws.
Bamboo Straws for Kids
Bamboo straws are an excellent option as they are made from a renewable source. They are washable and sustainable and made from a natural material. You can reuse bamboo straws which eliminates waste.
We’ve found the bamboo straws to be one of the cleanest, safest straws for naturally inhibiting bacteria and mold.
Be sure to wash them well after each use and to let them dry out completely before storing them. For our family, bamboo straws are the best straws for kids. We love products made with sustainable, renewable bamboo.
Pros and cons of bamboo straws
Pros of bamboo straws:
- Made with renewable, eco-friendly material
- Reusable, saves money and prevents waste
- Shouldn’t break
- Each one should be a little bit different
- You can put certain brands in the dishwasher
- Shouldn’t hurt child’s teeth if straws hits tooth
- Doesn’t get really cold like stainless steel straws do
- Portable, can take with when traveling
- Unique gift idea
Cons of bamboo straws:
- Some are wider than others and may not fit in all cups with holes
- Each one is unique so you may have your children arguing to get what they perceive to be “the best straw”
- May have to wash by hand, depending on brand
Silicone Straws for Kids
Before finding bamboo straws, we loved using silicone, two-part reusable drinking straws. They were made with BPA-free silicone.
The straws I bought were a tie-dye pattern, and my kids enjoyed mixing the tops and bottoms. They are also available in blue/green and pink/green. We lost one of the tops but still were able to use the one piece.
Because these reusable drinking straws come apart, they are easy to clean. They are dishwasher-safe, however, I did not do so as I was afraid the silicone would break down.
Like all reusable drinking straws, you should rinse them out immediately after use, especially after drinking a thicker drink. These straws are wide enough for smoothies.
Cleaning silicone straws
To clean silicone straws, separate the pieces. I put them in a drinking glass to facilitate air drying. Do not put these straws — or any reusable straws — away wet. Let them air dry. Take the minimal time to separate the pieces.
You really do not want mold growing in your straws. You must clean them out – don’t just run them under water or put them in the dishwasher. Use a straw cleaner or a pipe cleaner or something, or you will have mold growing.
I thought I was washing our silicone straws well. I separated them before cleaning them. Then, I used dish soap, letting them air dry on the counter, etc. Yet, we still had mold growing in ours.
If you clean these straws properly from the start, I would highly recommend using them.
Pros and cons of silicone straws
Pros of silicone reusable drinking straws:
- Reusable, eco-friendly; keeps plastic waste out of the landfills
- Saves money unlike one-time use straws
- Easy to clean; dishwasher safe
- BPA-free silicone; non-toxic
- Good for kids who are “chewers”
- The pieces separate making them easier to clean
- Kids may think it’s fun to interchange the pieces and make different straws
- Portable, easy to take to restaurants
Cons of silicone reusable straws for kids:
- Material still a bit questionable for some
- Made in China
- I thought I was cleaning them well but had mold growth
Stainless Steel Straws
I further researched reusable drinking straws and remembered that years ago, pre-kids, I purchased some stainless steel reusable drinking straws. I remember liking them but that they weren’t ideal for very cold drinks. You can find them bent or straight.
We bought the Epica Stainless Steel Drinking Straws, Set of 4. It came with a cleaning brush. Stainless steel straws are not pliable. The ones we chose came already “bent.”
I was very excited about this option because they would be excellent for the environment as they were a one-time purchase. Over time, they would save me money from buying disposable straws. If you look for stainless steel straws, choose ones that are made from:
- Food-safe, 18/10 stainless steel
These straws won’t rust or break. They also came with a cleaning brush, which is essential when you are reusing straws. I found stainless steel drinking straws to be one of the best reusable drinking straws for kids.
My kids enjoyed these fun straws right away. They liked that the straw became cold too. Depending on your drink, if you add ice cubes or are drinking a frozen drink, you may or may not enjoy this.
An advantage to these straws is you can wash them in the dishwasher. However, I highly recommend also using a cleaning brush as well. After my experience with the silicone reusable drinking straws, (finding mold in the straws despite thinking I was cleaning them well) I would highly recommend you frequently brush the straws out in addition to running them in the dishwasher.
It’s great to not worry about toxins seeping out after multiple dishwasher runs.
I was worried about a metallic taste but my husband and I didn’t notice one.
The ones we have are not really wide enough for smoothies but you could probably find some larger ones.
Kids must be mindful while using them so they don’t bump their teeth. This is not a problem if your kids stay seated while drinking but if your kids carry their drinks around while playing you would not want them to use these straws. We use the stainless steel straws for when they are sitting and drinking at the table only.
Kids may also have a tendency to want to bite down on the stainless steel straw, especially if they used plastic or silicone straws in the past.
Pros and cons of stainless steel straws
Pros of stainless steel reusable drinking straws:
- Made from food-safe stainless steel
- Dishwasher safe
- Easy to clean with brush
- Durable, non-porous
- Not plastic; safe material to drink from
- One-time purchase will save money
- No BPA, phthalates
- Stainless steel won’t rust, scratch, chip or break
Cons of stainless steel straws:
- Must be careful not to hit teeth or bite down on them
- Difficult to clean and dry if they are bent permanently
- Might not be wide enough for smoothies
- Not ideal for very cold drinks
- Typically made in China
My sister had given us a beautiful box of paper Halloween straws that I found in my pantry. They are thicker-than-paper straws and come in really fun colors. I liked that they were biodegradable and so festive. For a low cost, they would really dress up a party.
It would be convenient and cool to put them in a straw decanter on the kitchen counter and change the colors out with the seasons as desired, especially since I rarely have holiday decorations in my kitchen. And giving the kids different straws each day would be lots of fun for them. I really thought these could be the best straws for kids.
The problem for us, while the paper straws are so cute, if my kids didn’t drink their drinks in a timely manner, the paper straws would start to come apart.
I started to only use them for small drinks at meals, not when I leave out their “between-meal” drinks. They might be fun for parties sometimes or for when friends come over but not practical as everyday drinking straws.
Using paper straws creates a lot of unnecessary waste in our landfills, even if they are made of paper.
The great news though is the kind of paper straws we tried are biodegradable and made with safe food dyes. They are definitely worth a try; however, in an effort to use less consumables, we don’t buy them.
Pros and cons of paper straws
Pros of paper straws for kids:
- Can be made from biodegradable paper
- Made with safe food dyes
- Won’t hurt teeth if bumped or if they chew them
- Fun, festive for parties; adds to the decor
- Available in many colors
Cons of paper straws:
- Unnecessary waste in our landfills
- Not sustainable
- Come apart in drink if left too long
- Ours were made in China
Plastic Straws for Kids
By now my kids were mostly transitioned to glassware and were really enjoying using straws. I am embarrassed to admit, the second kid-friendly straws we tried were those inexpensive, plastic straws.
Plastic! The very thing I was trying to stop using. But they are so cheap (100 for $1!) and easy and disposable. My kids loved these straws.
One of the problems was that I found myself giving them a new straw for each drink because they were inexpensive. I thought, “They are so cheap. Why waste time and water cleaning them, trying to remember who had which color, when I can just throw them away?”
When I realized this could be 5 – 8 straws a day, per child, I felt sick about filling up our landfills unnecessarily and contributing to demand.
I started giving each child a certain color for the day and rinsing them off to reuse them for that day. After a few days of this, it still wasn’t sitting right with me. What was I doing?
These are made of plastic, the very material I am trying to get away from. I am having my children put these straws in their mouths. And, they are made from plastic made in China! We used the rest of the straws for crafts, and I never bought another disposable plastic straw again.
Update: Years later, and I still haven’t bought these straws. Not only that, when we go to restaurants, I try to remember to bring our reusable straws from home. Or (more often) we just drink from the glass.
Pros and cons of plastic straws
Pros of supermarket plastic straws:
- Found in many stores
- Won’t hurt kids’ teeth
Cons of supermarket plastic straws:
- Filling up landfills; generates unnecessary waste
- Made of plastic
- Not sustainable
- Made in China
While the Hummingbird Glass Reusable Drinking Straws option seemed to be the best, safest choice from a health vantage, I was just too worried about the kids breaking them, biting them, or banging their teeth with them, so at first I didn’t buy them.
But I eventually did buy them, and I like them a lot.
I have let my kids use them but only while seated at the table, when they aren’t messing around. I think they are the best overall option, just not the best reusable drinking straws for kids because of the safety issue.
However, there are a lot of positives: You don’t have to worry about toxins leaching into your system. Glass straws are usually wider than plastic straws which makes it easier to drink thick smoothies, etc. from.
I love that these straws are made from glass and not plastic and that they are made in the United States. They are also a lot easier to clean as you can see through them.
Pros and cons of glass straws
Pros of reusable glass straws:
- Easy to clean
- Dishwasher safe
- Can see through them making them easier to clean
- Wide-mouth for thick drinks
- Safe material to drink from
- Reusable; may save money in long run
- Made in the USA (Hummingbird Straws brand)
Cons of using glass straws for kids:
- Danger of breaking
- Not portable
- You want to be sure your kids don’t bite down on them
Best straws for kids
Really, who knew finding safe reusable drinking straws would be so fun? After spending a few weeks which then lead into months and years trying everything from glass straws, bamboo straws, and stainless steel straws, I am happy to have found the best reusable drinking straws for kids. They are also the best for adults as well.
The eco-friendly bamboo reusable drinking straws have been working for our family and are the straws we use when we use straws. Now that my kids are older, we don’t use them as often. We habitually decline straws in restaurants instead of using plastic straws..
By choosing reusable straws, you are not contributing to the demand for plastic materials and are also keeping them out of the landfill.
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We don’t use straws as often as we used to but when we do, I feel good about using something safe and reusable that also helps to keep the juice and milk off my children’s teeth.
I’m also thrilled we are no longer using plastic straws then throwing them away, which fill up our landfills. We are successfully eliminating the plastic in our kitchen and are happy with these bamboo straws, the best reusable drinking straws for kids. Bamboo straws are great straws for kids, adults, and families.