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After being harassed by my health visitor to wean my now 18month old twins off their bottles I searched high and low for suitable cups and beakers. As any parent probably knows buying beakers and cups is quite a daunting experience. To stand in a shop opposite a shelf full of toddler cups staring back at you is quite frightening to say the least. So many styles, ages and colours to choose from, more often than not you would probably be better off closing your eyes and launching your hand in for the kill and hoping for the best. It feels like I've done this many times as out of about 10 beakers I've bought, 9 of them have either been no good, disliked, broke within seconds or leaked. This time though one thing and one thing only caught my eye - Thomas The Tank! From some of my previous Thomas product reviews you can see I am a Thomas mad freak - for my sons of course. I didn't check anything out about this particular beaker at the time apart from the age it was reccomended for which was 12 months plus. Bingo! It was a few months ago I purchased this beaker and although my boys were just over 12months, they didn't think too much of them at the time so I threw them in the back of the cupboard and forgot about them. It's only been the past month or so they have been using them, I'll explain why in a bit but let me explain the cup itself. These are not your typical toddler beakers, in simple terms these are cups with a screw top lid and a pop up straw. The cup itself is a tall, sturdy, clear plastic cup, slightly narrow at the bottom and gradually becoming wider towards the top. On the front of the cup it says Thomas & Friends in a smoke bubble, underneath we have the three main engines Thomas, James and Henry on train tracks, smiling at you. Behind this is a background picture of blue sky, clouds and grass. A very boyish and attractive design - would be a massive hit with any Thomas mad child or parent. The lid is red and screws on tightly the way a bottle cap would. The top of the lid is rounded into a hill. Think of an ice cream scoop upside down and thats exactly what it looks like. On top of this upside down ice cream scoop is another plastic add on, it's blue this time, it almost looks like like a pair of lips with a tongue poking out. This tongue is what allows you to pull it up to let the straw pop out. When finished drinking the blue 'tongue' can be pulled back down to hide the straw once more. Now as I said my boys have only just started using them, this is because the other week I took them up my nans. My nan unfortunately struggles to hold cups etc so she has a small beaker with a hole in it for a straw - this enables her to lean over to her side table and take sips from her straw. Both of my boys found this extremely fascinating and within an hour had mastered the art of sucking through a straw. A bright light shone - ahh yes I have Thomas - Straw - Beakers hiding and gathering dust in my cupboard. I took them out of the cupboard gave them a quick clean and filled them up with their ever faithful milk. Their faces were a picture and they were soon sucking with glee - no exaggeration! I am so far VERY impressed with these beakers, apart from when my darling boys decide it's funny to shake them upside down, as this of course causes leaks - apart from this slight mishap they suit their needs perfectly - and mine as I have had no lectures from the health visitor since. They have been sturdy and strong enough to withhold knocks, being thrown inside the house and out. Not only have they lasted through knocks, throws and bumps but the lid hasn't been knocked off either which has happend with many other trial and error beakers I have bought. Being only 18months now they havn't worked out - and personally I don't think they are strong enough anyway - to lift the straw door up and down - which is good as this means no leaks until I am prepared to lift the 'door' up and deal with them. Although the straw itself feels and looks a bit flimsier than I expected it has lasted well over a month a now. This I am extremely impressed with as with many of my boys bottles they have ripped their teats to shreds by biting and chewing them - and even then their teats to me have felt fairly strong. Last but not least although when buying this cup it says it's for children aged 12months plus I feel it will last alot longer. It could make an interestingly fun way to cup train - without using the lid and straw. I bought these cups in Boots for just under £4, giving me a few extra points on my advantage card too but I have seen these cups in Mothercare in this design and others including Roary the Racing Car and Bob The Builder - but I never took any notice of the price. Definitely a full 5 stars from me, although maybe the reccomended age could be a little higher - purely for children under 16 months maybe who don't fully understand about the messes they make when tipping drinks upside down and a straw I wouldn't say is common for a child aged one to drink from. Again the older the child gets the more they will begin to understand, even if not talking themselves children can still begin to understand some of what you say and you can help them learn to suck through the staw - even by doing it yourself as we all know children like to copy. I definitely reccomend these to anybody who is going through that trial and error phase of beakers as I have found them to be brilliant.