When our oldest weaned off bottles and starting eating table food, discovering what types of kid-friendly plates, cups, and utensils to buy was a total guessing game. I reached out to some friends with kids slightly older than ours to get their opinions and read some reviews of people I followed online. As a now slightly more experienced parent, here’s what worked and didn’t work for us.
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Once you’re done with bottles, a large, confusing world of drinking options is in front of you. Speech therapists will tell you to use an open cup or straw cup, but definitely not a hard-spout sippy cup. But let’s be honest, a six-month-old, one-year-old, or even an 18-month-old with an open cup is just a nightmare. I don’t actually remember when things changed with our oldest but it was just clear one day that he could handle an open cup. It took practice, of course, but he got there without eating every meal with an open cup, so I don’t stress about that with our second. We did buy this little silicone cup (pictured on the far left above) to practice with our second and we use it when we feel ambitious. Mostly our three-year-old thinks it’s fun to drink out of and asks to use it sometimes.
What else have we tried? We bought a couple sippy cups (not linked, not recommended), 360 cups, munchkin weighted straw cups, this Thermos water bottle (Mickey for Grant, Grogu for Harris), and finally some Re-Play cups (all pictured above in that order). Our oldest had a hard time figuring out the straw so we did 360 cups for a while. They spill when dropped, but otherwise are decent. You can buy these lids for them to make them leakproof, which helps in the lunchbox but doesn’t help when they’re tossed from the high chair. Our second had a hilariously difficult time with the 360 cups (I need to share this video!!) but picked up the straw quickly, so we found this straw cap for the 360 cup and that’s what we still use for pretty much every meal. It can spill but it’s easier to clean than the weighted straw cup. We typically send the weighted straw cup to daycare with milk. If you want to try just one thing, I’d buy this combo set with a 360 lid, leakproof cover, and a straw lid.
Once they can drink out of a straw I highly recommend the Thermos water bottle. We had another first but the stainless steel keeps the water colder, it doesn’t leak, and is easy for little hands to open and close. They sell replacement straws as well. Those water bottles go everywhere with us, can’t say enough good things!
We started with these EZPZ silicone smile plates. They are great because they stick to the highchair tray or table pretty well and divide up the food for kids who don’t want their food to touch. The downside we found is that they start to smell like chemicals if you run them through the dishwasher, and that starts to make the food taste off. When that happened we bought a couple new ones and only washed them by hand and that seemed to keep them like new. They’re great but we haven’t used them much with our second kid because we’ve found plates we like more. Plus, our second kid is a serious food-thrower, so we tend to keep his plate off his high chair and give him a few pieces of food at a time.
When it was time to move on from the silicone plates I was really stumped. There is so much out there! A friend recommended the Re-Play brand and we decided to start there. We have been totally happy with these plates! We started with one three-pack of RE-Play plates (and chose mermaid colors because Grant’s favorite color at the time was purple). I love the color combos that are available. Since then we’ve bought an additional pack of three in more colors. The boys love getting to pick out their plate color each mealtime. Currently the pink plate is both boys’ favorite. These plates are hard, durable, and hold up great in the dishwasher with no funny smell. I even cut their food up on them with real knives and that hasn’t been an issue.
Starting out with both boys we used these suction bottom bowls, our little guy still mostly uses those. One set of three proved to be enough. They don’t stay suctioned to the high chair indefinitely so you need to keep making sure it’s stuck, but it’s better than no suction at all! They’re a good size for little stomachs as well. We added a set of Re-Play bowls when we felt like we needed more bowls. Like all the Re-Play stuff, they’re holding up great.
By far our most used and favorite utensils have been our Ikea flatware. The last time we were at Ikea, however, they were all out and somehow ours keep disappearing to the land of daycare. So, we decided to try out our new favorite brand’s flatware and we bought this set to match the plates and bowls we already had. Harris is happy to use them, Grant is set in his ways and will only use the Ikea flatware.
We bought this construction set when my oldest went through his “suddenly I don’t eat food phase” and we were desperate. He still likes it but it’s expensive and in reality didn’t get him to eat any more food than he wanted to. Lesson learned, let the toddler be your guide!
If you’re looking for lunchboxes and what we put in them, check out my post on packing toddler lunches. I need to do a follow-up post on the lunch bags themselves, but I’m waiting until I find some I like!
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