THE COMPLETE BUYER'S GUIDE TO KIDS TABLEWARE
December 08, 2021
Written by Chandler Karadsheh, a struggling parent.
The Right Toddler Feeding Set is a Step Toward Normalcy
Picking the right kids tableware matters because eating meals together feels to many like a lost practice, especially during the delirium of early parenthood when late nights and take out food becomes the new normal. On one occasion, a good friend of mine texted me late at night: “there’s a pile of groceries on your back porch.” My wife and I reveled in chocolate almonds and popcorn for weeks. However, as you slowly recover the ability to sleep and eat together around the dining table, you’ll start wondering exactly which kids tableware and toddler feeding sets are best, and which ones you should buy.
There are so many lists, guides, books, and opinions from friends and family that this topic can quickly feel overwhelming. Let’s slow down and sort it out together. We’re going to cover it all in this article. From making the transition to a sippy cup to an honest review of the best forks and spoons, we’ll leave nothing off the table (pun fully intended).
Close the 30 tabs of Amazon reviews that you opened in a panic earlier and let’s get started.
What Kids Tableware is Best, by Age?
When your kids are still in the infant stage you’ll be pining for the days when bottle cleaning is a thing of the past. During those early months you won’t have to give much thought to plates, forks, bowls, and all of the other children’s dishes that will follow later on.
Even cups aren’t needed during the first few months because toddlers usually don’t drink water before they are a year old, and the transition to a sippy won’t happen for a short while. If you’re like me you’ve probably felt apprehensive about your infant and toddlers getting dehydrated. As it turns out, they get all of the water they need from breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
Your child’s limited development and reliance on mom or a bottle for formula means that you can leave that toddler feeding set in basement storage a little bit longer.
Some parents are concerned that their kids will want a bottle forever, and they dread the transition to a sippy cup. Don’t fret - making the switch isn’t always hard. You’ll likely find that bringing a low key attitude to the whole ordeal makes your child more likely to at least experiment with the sippy cup. Simply giving them the sippy cup to play with will make them feel more comfortable and increase the chances that they figure it out on their own.
At this age your little one might just be starting to explore different soft foods that are still fairly soupy in texture (e.g., rice cereal or mashed bananas). You’re going to want plenty of no-frills bowls that are dishwasher safe as you attempt endless recipes for a palette that’s pickier than Gordon Ramsey. Microwave safety is another key - you’ll be reheating time and time again.
Snacks also start to abound around 9 months to 1-year old, depending on your child’s level of interest. Convenient snack holders make it so much easier to pack a variety of crackers, fruit, leftovers, and any other food that you want available on the go. Because kids are so prone to accidents (it’s just a fact of life), using snack containers even when your child is seated at the table in their high chair will keep many goldfish off of the floor, no matter how badly your dog wants to clean things up.
12 Months and Beyond
By the time your child reaches one year of age (and likely before), you’re probably ready to embrace more normal mealtimes. If your child is an adventurous eater you might already be slicing and dicing bits of your own dinner to introduce different flavors and textures. At this point, it’s time to start bringing out the plates, cups, and other utensils that will help your child develop fully independent eating capabilities.
There are a number of milestones that signal your child is ready to take the wheel on self-feeding. Weaning from formula and breastfeeding is a big one, but others will include growing interest in grabbing what’s on your plate.
Our Picks for the Best Kids Tableware
Now that you’ve got some idea of what kids tableware you’re going to want and when, let’s dive into a detailed guide for the best options in each tableware category. As a side note, Nini and Loli sells each of the items listed below and takes pride in delivering top notch service for every customer.
- Re-Play makes a stable, sturdy everyday bowl that’s perfect for kids of all ages. These colorful bowls are made from recycled milk jugs and are dishwasher and microwave safe (in 20-second intervals).
- The Din Din Smart Dinner bowl from Innobaby is a temperature-controlled dish with a handle, making it easier for your toddler to keep the bowl in front of them while working on those critical motor skills.
- Here’s a bowl and placement combination from ezpz that’s perfect for younger, messy eaters who have less motor skills but need to keep their portion all in one place. If you’re worried about clanking silverware and food ending up on the floor, this is your bowl.
- This silicone bowl from Chewbeads Baby is great for those first learning self feeders that might dump their bowl on the floor. Though it doesn’t stick to the table, this set of two bowls is as durable as they come.
- A solid bowl that sticks to your table and doubles as a storage container, this innovative sealable bowl is wonderfully easy to use. This stainless steel bowl set from Avanchy is the toughest of our kids tableware options.
- Lastly, it’s always smart to have a bowl with built-in dividers to keep the mashed potatoes away from the deli meat that won’t be touched. This bowl option from Elegant Baby has the added feature of a suction on the bottom that helps it stick in place.
- This simply styled plate from Re-Play is one of the most classic designs for children’s dishes. With 3 different sections that have deep, curved sides for easier scooping, these plates are incredibly easy to wash and are almost unbreakable.
- For a slightly different take on the 3-section plate, but with added flexibility, this brightly colored set from Chewbeads Baby is virtually unbreakable and made to withstand even the most rigorous use.
- The Stick and Stay plate from OXO lets you keep the plate on the table with a special suction cup and, if your kids are anything like mine, they might want a little dipping sauce or ketchup with many of their meals.
- For something whimsical that your kid will actually ask for meal after meal, look no further than the fun zoo themes that Skip Hop has added to their durable, dishwasher-safe plates.
- For longer utensils with a natural wood appeal, Miniware makes an attractive spoon and fork set with tines that are safe for young children through the toddler stage.
- For another wooden utensils set that has a little bit more imagination, take a look at this option from Petits et Maman. These options are a little bit sharper, so they’re great for kids that have developed great motor control and want to get their food on the first stab.
- Metal utensils are great for everyday meals even from a young age. This shorter silverware set with plastic handles and tines that aren’t too sharp is excellent for even the smallest hands.
- One of my friends has introduced their children to an authentic tradition of eating Asian foods even from a very early age. A pair of kids chopsticks has helped them get comfortable with these utensils and develop great hand-eye coordination.
- For a simple, uncomplicated cup with a short straw (great for kids around 1 year of age) check out the Ezpz silicone mini cup and straw training set.
- When transitioning from a straw to a real sippy cup, there are some new styles of cups that are essentially spill proof and allow for “360-degree” drinking. The handles on the side are an added bonus of the Wow baby transition cup.
Toddler Feeding Set
- When your little one is ready for a full toddler feeding set and a little more independent, get everything you need in one comprehensive kit that looks as good as it works.