Family mealtimes can be tricky. Yes, we know, you’ve tried everything: introducing veggies early, shunning sweets, singing and making goofy faces, and even promising a big fat dessert if they just eat three more bites. If you’ve run out of mealtime antics, don’t hang up your apron just yet; we have baby and toddler mealtime tools, utensils and products to make meals more fun.
Plastic-Free Dinner Set from Repurpose
If you're looking to reduce your use of plastic, this dinner set from Repurpose looks, feels and is as durable as plastic, but it's made from plants (specifically, renewable corn and plant-based starches such as cassava, sugarcane, beets and bamboo). In addition to being non-toxic and safe for your kids (no BPA, phthalates, PVC or PBDE here), it's also safe for dishwasher and microwave. Comes in four kid-friendly colors.
Available at repurpose.com, $29.99.
EZPZ Tiny Cup & Spoon
EZPZ has announced the newest addition to their collection—the tiny cup and spoon. It can be a challenge for babies to make the transition to big kid eating gear, and this expertly designed set of spoons and cup offer all kinds of perks: things like a slight arc in the spoon to help with developing lip closure and a weighted base on the cup to help with sensory awareness. Choose from seven fun colors.
Available at ezpzfun.com, $9.99 for the cup and $14.99 for a two-packs of spoons.
This semi-circle food cubby is a picky eater's dream. Made out of food grade silicone, the suction action allows for food to be completely separated on a plate. It also allows for easy scooping, which is perfect for little ones learning how to use utensils.
Available at amazon.com, $14.99 for a 2-pack.
The Cup for Your Big Kid
Your tot wants to do it all herself, and drinking from a big kid cup is no exception. The new 9 oz. sippy cup from Skip Hop will help make it happen. It’s got a no-roll square base (see ya, temper tantrum toss!), and two different settings for fast and slow flow. Simply lock the lid while on-the-go and when she’s ready to drink without a top, simply twist off the cap to make it a standard sipper. It’s translucent so you can see how much fluid is left, is dishwasher-safe, and comes kitted out in Skip Hop’s adorable zoo collection.
Available at skiphop.com, $10.
Dine with a Dino
How fun are these dinosaur egg cups? The set of three includes an orange T-Rex, a white Triceratops, and a green Diplodocus. Made from porcelain, painted and glossed for easy cleaning (hand-wash only), these fun breakfast accessories are best for your oldest kiddos.
Available at notonthehighstreet.com, $13.61 for a set of three.
STAYnEAT® Helping Plate
Created by a mother-father team, the STAYnEAT® Helping Plate has a sloped angle, which allows food to stay separated. It's also got a non-skid rim and a suction cup feature on the bottom, which helps reduce spillage. We also like the side scoop wall, the "spill guard" double-raised edge and the ability to swap out the three-divider design at any time.
Available at stayneatplace.com, $14.99 & up.
Let Them Play with Their Food
Giving kids not only permission but also the tools to play with their food? Why didn’t we think of this? Noshi Food Paint comes in real tubes, just like a paint set, and contains organic, edible paint made from fruit puree: red strawberry, yellow peach, and blueberry. Kids can spread on hot cereal, on pancakes, bread, fruit, ice cream and more!
Available at amazon.com, $14.99 for three tubes.
Stack 'Em Up
The new stackable bowl set from Cheeky Baby is a good fit when you want to prep food ahead of time. Each bowl is made with a no-slip bottom, has high sides that help kids scoop up food, and the leak-proof lid means nothing will get mixed up. We especially love the adorable animal designs: choose from giraffes, lions, alligators, monkeys and more. Plus, for every item purchased, a child in need will get a meal through the company’s partnership with No Kid Hungry. We’re sold!
Available at target.com, $5.50 for a set of two.
Engineer Mealtime Fun
Your tot can chew, chew, chew his way to a clean plate with this adorable train meal set. The six-piece set comes with an engine that’s a cup, a conductor’s house that’s a bowl, a train platform that’s a plate, and coupling rods that transform into a fork and spoon. It's made from polypropylene plastic and it's dishwasher safe—mealtime never looked so good!
Available at uncommongoods.com, $20.
One Plate to Hold It All
We love the simple genius behind the Great Plate. This round plate has a spot in the middle that’s perfect for sippy cups, juice boxes, or even water bottles. Your littles can make it from the grill straight to their picnic table in one trip. Plus, they won't be calling out for drinks. Score!
Available at amazon.com, $14.99 for a set of four.
If you’re past the sippy cup stage but have kids that still need a little help, the O-Sip silicon lid and straw combo from Mod Family could be the answer to your mealtime drama. It fits over any cup or glass, there are no valves, no crevices, and is easy to clean. You can use it at home, at restaurants, or any place where kid-friendly gear might not be handy. Each one is made from food-safe silicone, can be thrown in the dishwasher, and folds up for easy transport and storage.
Available at amazon.com, $12.99 for a pack of three.
Blast Off! Bites
This space-themed set of four plates is made of renewable, sustainable bamboo material. Each plate has a cute image, an adorable saying (Dream Big, Shoot for the Moon, Up, Up and Away!), and can be tossed in the dishwasher.
Available at bamboozle.com, $15 for a set of four.
Fred & Friends Dinner Winner Plate
Everyone wins at dinnertime with Fred & Friends Dinner Winner Plate. Your tiny diners will love eating their way to the finish line, and you'll love that it's a natural silencer to the question "How many more bites do I have to take?" Want to give the little ones even more motivation to make it to the finish line? Try putting a chocolate kiss on the last partition of the game board and watch them plow through supper.
Available online at amazon.com, $18.27.
Constructive Eating Construction Utensils
Toddlers will really dig meal times with a set of Constructive Eating’s Construction Utensils. They’ll lift more than french fries to their mouths with the Fork Lift Fork, slurp all the soup you can send their way with the Front Loader Spoon, and be begging for more butter beans to shovel around in the Bull Dozer Pusher. With these awesome utensils, you might finally be able to skip wearing your hard hat to the table.
Available online at amazon.com, $17.49 for a set of 3.
Modern Twist Mark-Mat
We’ve all been there: you finally get the kids to the table and then realize dinner isn't quite ready, or you forgot to pour the drinks, or you really, really need to run to the restroom because it’s been since before noon that you last had the chance. Instead of letting the littles scatter to the wind, keep them happy (and seated) with a Modern Twist Mark Mat. We especially love their city collection. And the best news? They rinse off and can be used again, and again.
Available online at amazon.com, $25 for a mat and four markers.
When you’re on the go, there’s no better helper than the Yumbox to keep your nutrition boxes checked, your car clean, and your little lunch date happy. You’ll love that this waterproof bento box comes with a removable divided tray serving as a helpful reminder to offer up balanced meals (not that we’ve ever fed our kids Goldfish for lunch when our errand list runs long, or anything). Your toddlers will love the fun box colors and tray themes--be sure to check out the Pirate and Princess designs.
Available online at amazon.com, $26.99 for a complete box and tray set.
Fred & Friends Chimpsticks
We know you’re out there, you foodie parents who secretly roll your eyes(while smiling, of course!) at your toddler’s inability to eat adeptly with chopsticks when you go out for dim sum. Or maybe you’re just one of the lucky ones whose kiddos clamor for the chance to eat with “little swords.” Whatever the case may be, you can dine with ease using Fred & Friends Chimpsticks, the perfect antidote to chopstick chaos at the dinner table.
Available at amazon.com, $7.44.
OXO Tot Nest Booster Seat
We all know how hard it is for a toddler to sit still, especially when they’re at a table they can barely see across with food they can hardly reach. Why not give their meal times a boost with the OXO Tot Nest Booster Seat? It grips kitchen chairs and helps keep your kiddos in one place, with a sleek and modern design, to boot. Braving a meal out with the minis? The Tot Nest has a built-in handle and a compartment for storing straps while you're on the go.
Available online at amazon.com
$54.99. Photo: Oxo
oogaa® Silicone Bowl
When you're learning to feed yourself, could there be anything harder than chasing a pea across a flat plate with a spoon? Give the kid a break and stock up on Oogaa's brightly-colored silicone bowls, with shallow sides that make chasing slippery suppers a breeze. The best part? These bowls are dishwasher, microwave, freezer and oven safe, which makes them a parent's best friend, too. And, while we're bananas for their bowls, we also love their entire mealtime sets, which come with a bowl plus matching plane and train spoons.
Available online at amazon.com
$9.99 for a single bowl, $29.97 for a mealtime set. Photo: oogaa®
EZPZ Happy Mat
Instead of figuring out how to get the plate to stay on the placemat, the folks at EZPZ have designed a plate that is part of the placemat. Why didn't we think of that? Not only does the silicone of the Happy Mat grip the table and make it difficult to upturn for all those dramatic eaters out there, but it also has three compartments for picky eaters who are left cold at the mere thought of swirled peas. And did you get a gander at the design of the compartmental trays on this thing? Yes, indeed, it does in fact, form a smiley face. Brilliant.
Available online at amazon.com, $24.99.
Sometimes the farthest distance between point A and point B is on a toddler’s spoon. Give them a hand with Boon’s bendable spoons, so no matter what their course, they’re pointed in the right direction. Our favorite thing about these flexible feeders? You can bend them over and over to adjust for your toddler’s improving hand-mouth coordination.
Available online at amazon.com, $4.49.
Tommee Tippee Spill-Free Cups
Sippy cup? Who? Me? Forget it, dad! Just when you think you've got the transition from bottle to cup covered, it's time to lose the lid. Instead of buying a billion different cups and lids for each of your growing toddler's needs, pick up a set of Tommee Tippee's new line of transition cups, which come with interchangeable bases and lids for every stage from ages 4 months to over a year. Cupboards and cabinets, rejoice!
Available online at amazon.com, $18.25 for a set of 2.
mOmma Warm Plate
Sometimes dinner just takes a while (building mashed potato snowmen takes time, after all). For whatever the reason, you can count on the mOmma Warm Plate to keep food appealing for the duration of the meal. Sturdy construction and food divisions makes this plate perfect for toddlers new to noshing on their own, and the hidden warm water well keeps their mac-and-cheese gooey and their toast toasty. Did someone mention snack time? Fill the well with cold water to keep those cheese slices cool!
Available online at amazon.com, $9.52
Build with LEGO, Eat with LEGO
Don't leave your LEGO bricks at home. Keep the building fun going on your picnic with these fun utensils that stack one on top of another.
Available at Amazon for $15.
—Gabby Cullen and Shelley Massey