Your baby’s first experiences with starting solid foods can be quite the adventure. (If you’ve ever cleaned sweet potatoes out of their ears, you feel me.) Generally those first bites are delivered directly from the high chair tray, but as their motor skills and hand-eye coordination improve, it’s time to make the big-kid transition to plates and bowls.
However, it’s not like you’re going to hand over your regular dishware and call it a day. For one thing, tiny tummies need smaller portions. But more importantly, since hurling things to the ground is a toddler’s favorite pastime, you’re going to want to invest in a collection of unbreakable toddler plates and bowls.
How to choose toddler plates and bowls
Mealtime can be stressful enough, so we’re always on the hunt for ways to make it less so. Here’s what we look for in the dishware we give our littles.
Material, durability and safety
Toddler plates and bowls come in a variety of kid (and planet!) friendly materials these days. Most of our favorite brands stick to silicone, BPA and phthalate-free plastics, stainless steel and even bamboo. Of course they’re all safe from the inevitable drop or throw, but we’ve found plastic and silicone to withstand the most abuse. Stainless steel is obviously incredibly durable as well, but you may want to wait until they’re out of the throwing phase. (The sound of it clattering to the floor can be near heart-attack inducing.) Bamboo is up to the challenge, but with the amount of washing dishes endure, we’ve had to toss one on occasion due to cracking.
When it comes to kids’ dishes, easy-to-clean is a non-negotiable. Most are designed to be dishwasher-safe, but be sure to check the brand’s washing instructions just in case. Some are top-rack only, and in the case of bamboo, need to be left out altogether. And if you go the silicone route, don’t leave food to sit in them or leave them soaking in the sink, as they can stain or take on the soapy taste.
If there’s an invention that’s prevented more mealtime messes than suction toddler plates and bowls, we can’t think of it. (Besides your basic splat mat of course!) If you’ve got a little one who likes to try to wear their bowl as a hat, or test the presence of gravity with their plate, opt for silicone with suction features. You’ll have to police the situation less and enjoy mealtime a little more.
You’ll also find a lot of dishware that features dividers. While some dietitians prefer giving toddlers undivided plates to prevent pickiness, we also know you have to pick your battles. (We’ve also served many-a-meal on divided plates to kids who’ve grown up to have impressively adventurous palates.)
And while we also don’t condone bribery, fun designs and colors they love are always a good idea. And if giving them the plate with the monkey on it means you get them to nosh on something other than puffs, it’s totally a win.
So whether you’re dealing with a picky eater or an aspiring food critic, we’ve got you covered.