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Kid Stuff: What the Fork?

March 10, 2010

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If you are not the parent of a young child, the topic of this post may seem inane. But truly, there are a dizzying array of cups, plates, bowls, forks, spoons and bizarre combinations of the aforementioned that new parents must wallow through in order to find ways of feeding their young eater. I used to have a zillion varieties of sippy cups, bowls of varying sizes, and every type of toddler spork imaginable, but my husband put his foot down and I was forced pare significantly. What I present here are the day in and day out workhorses of my household and I recommend them all without hesitation. To my knowledge, all of the cups, bowls and plates recommended here are plastic #5 (which contains no BPA) with the exception of the Nalgene cups which are BPA free #7.

  1. Ikea Plates and Bowls: Both come in a rainbow colored pack of six for a mere $1.99, stack like a dream and beat out every other fancy suction cupped, divided, lidded, whatever plate or bowl you can buy at target or specialty baby store and catalog. They are also, I might add, just the right size for mom’s post-bedtime ice cream. The only downside is that you need to make the trek to Ikea to pick them up, and of course, once at Ikea, you can hardly walk out with one measly stack of plates. (I was at a store with my brother last week and he referred to being drawn into their maze-like show room as being “Ikea’d” which caused me to snort with laughter.)
  2. Gerber Graduates Tossables Sippy Cups: Do not be fooled by the term “tossable” in the title. We have had ours for almost two years and the animal faces are wearing off, but the cups themselves are going strong. What I love about these cups is that they are light weight, cheap, and most importantly, have no valve to futz around with. These are what we use in the house– at the dining table (OK, I’m a terrible mom who doesn’t encourage her 4.5 year to use a grownup cup because I prefer spill-free dinners), at snack time, and during play dates. My boys like them because they don’t have to work as hard to get the liquid out and I like them because they are so easy to clean, stack compactly and are reasonable enough that I can have a horde’s worth on hand. Take Note: These ARE NOT leak free, firstly you MUST screw the lid on properly– just takes a little practice– secondly, since they have no valve, if they are left upended on the carpet or are twirled around the room, they will drip. Still, love ‘em.
  3. Plastic Popcorn Boxes: I got ours at Target in the dollar section, I’ve seen them at the Dollar Store, and through the link provided you can get a set of them online. We are a popcorn loving family and as much as I love my Ikea bowls, they just weren’t up to the task of holding a generous amount of popcorn and keeping the mess to a minimum. These guys are definitely one trick ponies, but well worth a buck. They, like everything else I own, are machine washable, because life is just too short.
  4. Nalgene Grip n’ Gulp Sippy Cups: These are in just about every respect, the perfect sippy cup. And I’m not the only person who thinks so. They are available at Whole Foods and Target for about $9, but you know me, I couldn’t pay that much. I ordered 6 of them from basegear.com for $5.98 apiece and ended up paying 5 bucks shipping, so if you are going to invest in several it’s the way to go. Sure, if your 2 year throws the cup repeatedly agains’t the floor, the valve will fall out, but so far, that’s the only negative thing I can say. Beware however, these cups are sweeping the nation so you must identify yours somehow. I bought dishwasher proof labels from identitydirect.com, but their are a lot of options out there if you just search for them.
  5. Chinese Soup Spoons and Winnie the Pooh Disposable Cutlery: Grammy got us the spoon and a family friend brought the Pooh cutlery to Tex’s 2nd birthday party so I can’t tell you where to get them now, but they are out there. The spoons (which are considerably smaller than your average chinese soup spoon) are perfect for delivering soup and macaroni and cheese to the mouth without spillage, and the supposedly disposable winnie the pooh forks and tigger are always the boys number one picks.
  6. Bumkins Bibs: We stopped using bibs months ago, but when we did, the best I found were by Bumkins. The bibs are made of a thin, lightweight waterproof fabric that keeps messes off the kids without being bulky or getting soggy. They are machine washable but the best thing about them is that you can rinse them in the sink, give them a quick shake, and then let them drip dry ready for the next meal. And Keith Haring bibs?!? We had the Dr. Seuss set, but Haring prints totally take the cake.

So, that’s our kids’ cabinet, and I’m pretty pleased with it. If you’re in the market for simplifying and streamlining your child dining situation, check these products out.

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