You’ll notice your baby start to take an interest in “real” food at around six months old. After a lifetime of mostly liquids, your baby may begin to watch you when you eat, observing what you and others are enjoying and how you’re approaching food. It’s a natural developmental stage that tells you when it’s time to introduce more solid foods into your baby’s regimen. And with that comes the need for baby feeding supplies.
Since it’s not recommended to let your little one handle traditional cups, plates, and other accessories until they’re at least three years old, you’ll need to stock up on some age-appropriate supplies your baby can comfortably use and learn to eat with. With so much to choose from when it comes to feeding accessories for babies, here’s the simplified version of what you need to know, as well as our top product picks.
When shopping for your baby, it’s easy to get caught up in cute products, but what do you actually need to transition your baby to eating solid food? The best baby feeding supplies to prioritize include:
- Unbreakable bowls, plates, and cups
- Age-appropriate spoons and forks
- Easy-to-clean bibs
- A highchair that works with your space and routine
While you can go all out with other accessories, these are the main items to focus on. It’s a good idea to have on hand multiples of each item (aside from highchairs) so you’re not constantly washing dishes ahead of every mealtime. Make sure the items are age-appropriate in that your baby can easily grasp and control them well enough to manage the task. Also ensure everything you buy is safe to use—avoid anything that can break or have pieces that could be swallowed. Lastly, for your sake, choose items and materials that are easy to clean and reuse time and time again.
Speaking of materials, which is best when it comes to baby feeding accessories? Most often, baby feeding supplies are made from either plastic, bamboo, stainless steel, or silicone. Let’s look at what each of those materials has to offer.
Plastic is a super common material used in baby and toddler dining ware. It’s cost-effective and not likely to break if dropped. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding plastic when possible due to how frequently it may contain harmful chemicals like BPA and phthalates, which can leach into food if heat is introduced. While many plastic manufacturers have taken steps to eliminate these chemicals, it is best to opt for a different material as much as possible.
Bamboo is well-liked because it’s made without chemical processing and is easy to keep clean. It’s also a more sustainable, eco-friendly choice. The downsides to bamboo, though, are that it’s not dishwasher or microwave safe and may be mixed with melamine as a binder, so it’s important to check bamboo ingredients. As every parent knows, obstacles like this can be a big setback when you’re taking care of little ones.
The AAP recommends stainless steel as a good recommendation to plastic. Your baby isn’t going to break it. It’s relatively easy to clean. And like bamboo, it’s an option that’s sustainable. The negatives to stainless steel baby products (that are still being evaluated) are the possibility of heavy metals like nickel and chromium leaching into food. To what extent this happens isn’t fully known, but it is a possibility. There’s also the issue that stainless steel can’t be microwaved, can dent if dropped or thrown by your toddler, and isn’t see-through, which makes measuring difficult.
A superior option is silicone. Silicone is not only budget-friendly, it doesn’t react with hot foods or liquids, it’s stain resistant and non-stick, and it’s easy to throw in the dishwasher or microwave. It’s also durable and unlikely to break, making it great to use with new eaters.
Materials to Stay Away From
Now for a few materials to always avoid:
- PFAS Chemicals: This family of chemicals is commonly found in stain- or water- repellent treatments and is known to cause developmental delays.
- Phthalates: These are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been associated with asthma, ADHD, cancer, obesity, diabetes, neurodevelopmental issues, autism, and fertility issues.
- BPA/BPS: Linked to serious environmental and health problems such as endocrine disruption and an increased susceptibility to certain kinds of cancers.
- Heavy Metals: Exposure to lead and other metals is thought to cause learning and behavioral problems, reproductive damage, brain damage, and nerve damage
Take a look at the ingredients in any baby feeding supplies before purchasing to ensure safety and quality.
Now that you know what to look for and what to avoid, let’s look at some of our favorite feeding products for babies and toddlers. Here are our recommendations for the best baby feeding supplies in each category.
Bowls & Plates: Chicco Silicone Bowls & Plates
Aside from a safe material, the keys to picking the right bowls and plates for tiny eaters is how easy they are to use and clean. Many Chicco baby feeding supplies are made from silicone, so they definitely meet the criteria for safety and cleanability. And as we covered above, they can go in the dishwasher or microwave without worrying about damage or leaching. Chicco has options for suction plates and bowls to keep them fixed to your highchair or table and off the floor. Divided plates come with separate food sections to make it easier for babies to identify and make decisions about food.
Cups: Austin Baby Silicone Collapsible Cup
Once your baby is ready to hold their own cup, the Austin Baby collapsible silicone cup is great for many reasons. For one, it has a secure lid to prevent spills and leaks, as well as handles for easy gripping and control. Plus, it comes with a snack lid, so you can convert the cup to be more than just a drinking cup. And since it’s collapsible, you can easily throw it in your bag or cabinet without taking up much space.
If your baby is ready for a lidless option, the Ono tiny cup is perfect. It’s silicone as well, and since it’s so small, there won’t be much liquid to worry about if there’s a spill. It’s a great cup for little ones to practice sipping with.
Spoons & Forks: Bumkins Utensil Set
The Bumkins baby fork and spoon set is ideal for new eaters. They’re made from silicone, so they’re easy to clean, and you won’t have to worry about your baby poking themselves with sharp fork prongs. They’re designed to be easy to grasp for tiny hands, and the spoon has added sensory bumps in its design to stimulate teething gums. To also help with teething, both the fork and spoon are chewable.
NumNum’s GOOtensils are also a great pick. While they don’t include prongs for stabbing food, they’re designed to teach babies how to scoop and control food and can be held in a variety of ways.
Bibs: Babylist Roll-up Bib Pack
This two-pack of Babylist fabric/silicone bibs make life easier thanks to their ability to roll up and be easily tossed in a diaper bag. Made with fabric on top for comfort, the silicone scoop catches food to make cleanup a breeze. And not only does the silicone part wipe right off, the entire bib can be thrown in the washing machine.
Highchairs: Chicco Polly Collection
Chicco highchairs are a parent favorite, and the versatility of the Polly line allows caregivers to find the right highchair for their home and baby. The line features highchairs in different configurations and price points and with a variety of available accessories depending on your preferences. The seat materials are comfortable for little ones and easy to clean for caregivers. And if you need options for travel or going out to restaurants, Chicco also offers hook-on chairs and boosters.
Transitioning into eating solid foods is an exciting milestone for your baby, but it can be a bit messy and stressful for parents and caregivers. Make the process easier with baby feeding accessories that work with you instead of against you. Remember, look for safe, healthy materials and items that are easy to clean, as well as baby feeding supplies your little one can reasonably use and grow with. The best baby feeding products are the ones that help your baby learn how to take on this important step toward independence.
See more feeding and soothing products from Chicco to help your baby through a variety of stages.