E is now a full-fledged toddler (19 months and counting). Looking back, I do regret a number of purchases made, especially with regards to meal time. It really is absurd the number of cups/plates/utensils we have in the house. To note, we practiced (still practicing) Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) so E has by and large been feeding herself since the very beginning (6 months of age).
Here’s what stood the test of time or is currently working out for us:
We don’t use the typical sippy cups as they aren’t great for your child’s development. Read this to find out more. As such, E has only used either straw cups or cups.
(1) Straw cups (with valve): After trying a whole bunch, we always came back to the Playtex Sipsters Stage 2 Straw Cups. I think they were called the Lil’ Grippers in the past. Keeping your cups clean and free of mold is really important and the Playtex cups have an easy to remove clear valve (so you can see if there is any mold or dirt) and is easy to assemble and disassemble. They are also reasonably priced.
(2) Straw cups (no valve): We use the OXO Tot Twist Lip Straw Cup. I initially bought this cup because it had no valve and would be great for teaching a child how to drink from a straw. Then we used the Playtex cups for a while because it’s more leak-proof. We have now moved back to using this cup as our primary cup for E. I like how it has measurements at the side so I know how much liquid E has drunk. It is also easy to clean except for the lid. However, they have a special brush for it you can buy. We don’t have that brush so we only put water in the cup. It does leak a little when placed in certain directions (or tossed around), but in general it does not leak (easily). The interchangeable lids on the OXO Tot cups also allow you to turn this into a training cup. E likes the training cup too. Handles are also available for this cup.
(3) Cup (with valve): Munchkin 360 Miracle Cup. We have two of these. These are great and can be taken on the go because they don’t leak easily. I usually fill this with milk in the morning and E drinks from it throughout the day (it is kept in the fridge when not in use). It is also easy to clean.
(4) Cup (no valve): OXO Tot Training Cup. As mentioned above, it is interchangeable with the straw cup. It has no valve so baby/toddler does not need to suck on it. E likes to drink from this cup. At the same time, because it has no valve, it’s easier for her to “play” with the liquid in it. So that just means more spills.
Cup (yes, just a cup): E also likes to drink from a shot glass. I think she feels very “grown-up” when she gets to drink from a glass. It also teaches her how to control how much liquid goes into her mouth each time. We only do this at home of course since we don’t carry shot glasses around with us. IKEA has a number of cheap and good options. We use the small Pokal glasses.
(1) With suction: Tommee Tippee Stickee Bowl is the bowl that really sticks. Unfortunately, you can’t get it in the US but have to order it from elsewhere. It’s sold in Australia and New Zealand. I got mine from a family member who went to Australia. Unless the surface is not even and smooth, the bowl sticks very, very well due to its design.
(2) With no suction: OXO Tot Divided Plate with Removable Training Ring and Dipping Center. I recently decided to get a divided plate for E so that her food wouldn’t get easily mixed together. Previously we would just put everything in one bowl but E would use her spoon/fork and mix it all up (she thinks she’s cooking…). The divided plate also helps me decide how much of each type of food E should eat (portion control). This plate is sturdy enough and the training ring helps E scoop up her food easier. It is also easy to wash.
We also have a (3) plate and bowl from IKEA. They work well but need to be placed on a level surface to prevent it from rocking. Unfortunately, our high chair tray (a second-hand one) is not 100% level. As such, the Stickee Bowl and IKEA plate and bowl doesn’t work well on it.
We used to let E eat from a porcelain child-sized bowl and plate. You can get these from IKEA or Montessori stores. However, we have (temporarily) stopped using them because E broke one of them. We will probably transition her back to them after she develops more table manners. 🙂
Fork and Spoon: I’ve tried a number of utensils and recently purchased the OXO Tot Training Fork and Spoon Set. I find that these have been the best. Although we have tried many times to “correct” her, E still insists on holding her utensils at the end of the handle. The OXO Tot ones have a large chunky handle that she can hold on to. They are also sturdy and the fork and spoon part are made of metal. This is important especially for the fork as E needs to pierce through food to pick it up. The utensils are also angled in such a way that it helps kids scoop up food (well most of it).
On the go:
Gerber Meal Mat: We love this mat for on-the-go mealtimes. The mat comes with its own plastic case (I can also put her Bumkins bib in there) and is easy to clean. We have been using this for almost a year and have been very happy with this purchase. It doesn’t stick to all surfaces but we have taught E not to lift it up and play with it during meal times.
(1) Baby Bjorn Bib: E hated this bib for a period of time but now is okay with it. This is the best bib for “catching food” and kids can’t lift it up easily. It is also easy to wash and you don’t have to wait for it to dry (just wipe it down).
(2) Silicon Bibs: E was gifted a silicon bib from Modern Twist. It is very comfortable to wear and we used it for the period of time E refused to wear the Baby Bjorn bib. However, E can easily lift up the bib causing the contents in the “catcher” to fall out. It also doesn’t seem to “catch” as much food as the Baby Bjorn bib. However, it is more travel friendly as it can be rolled up. There are a number of silicon bib options. Here’s one I have been recommending to friends.
(3) Bumkins Bib: We use this bib for on-the-go meals. It can be folded up and placed in her meal mat case. It is easy to wash but takes time to dry. Also, it’s important to ensure the bib is completely dry before storing it as mildew and mold can grow on it. The “catcher” isn’t great but it does a decent job.
What are some meal time products you use for your toddler?