Between the picky eaters, mess makers and kids who can't sit still, mealtime can be a struggle for some families. But like most things in life, having the right tools can help. Take the headache out of mealtime at your house with these products that prevent spills, encourage choosy kids and reduce prep time. Now if only someone would invent a tool that makes broccoli more appealing…
ezpz Mini Play Mat
Big-ups to this placemat (with a suction feature) that can be used at mealtime as easily as it can during playtime. Fill the outside cups with fresh-cut veggies and make hummus the centerpiece, or surround a nut butter with sweet and savory dippables, like apple slices, pretzels and celery. Use it as a self-serve yogurt bar during breakfast or a snack tray during family movie night. And when all is said and done, wash the 100% silicone placemat in the dishwasher and fill it with paints or beads for craft time.
Cost: $19.99 on amazon.com
Munchkin Miracle 360 Cup
Being a toddler parent means navigating the world of spills, especially in the sippy cup realm. Or does it? This appropriately named Munchkin cup really is a miracle. Toddlers can take a sip from anywhere along the rim when thirst strikes, and no matter how or where they tip this cup, whatever’s inside stays put. Its three, dishwasher-safe pieces come apart for easy cleaning, and the absence of straws and other crannies means no place for bacteria and other yuckies to hide.
Cost: $10.28 on amazon.com
Sandwich Cutter Set for Kids
Whether you’re two or 92, food is always more appealing when it’s plated with panache. We’re not saying it has to be Pinterest perfect, but with this 20-piece cutting set, parents can invite their toddlers to sit down to whimsical sandwiches and fancy fruit in no time. After all, who can resist a good-ol’ PB&J when it’s shaped like a dinosaur?
Cost: $12.99 on amazon.com
OXO Tot Grape Cutter
We love tools that cut prep time for busy parents. And this OXO chopper tops our list. It takes a delish choking hazard and cuts it into fourths with a quick push of the plunger, so you’ve got toddler-safe grapes for your kiddo in a flash. No cutting board or paring knife necessary—and that means fewer dishes, too.
Cost: $9.99 on amazon.com
Constructive Eating Dinosaur Plate & Utensil Set
Forget the traditional fork, spoon and knife set-up when it comes to toddler eating. Go with a fork, spoon and pusher instead to help kids develop fine motor skills and learn to use utensils in a snap. We love this dinosaur-themed set that comes with a sectioned plate so food stays put while kids fork it up or use the pusher to get it onto the spoon. It’s BPA- and phthalate-free and will capture your kiddo’s imagination the minute you set it on the table, with or without food. It also comes in construction and garden fairy designs.
Cost: $37.95 on amazon.com
Silicone Baking Cups
Maybe it’s because these baking cups remind kids of cupcakes. Or maybe it’s that they give off that party vibe. Whatever the case, there’s something about these colorful liners that make them ultra appealing to toddlers. We love using them to set out colorful arrangements of finger foods at snack time. Fill each one with fresh fruit, veggies or crackers that match by color. They also make playdates that much easier. Let kiddos fill them with their choice of snacks, chunked cheeses or sandwich bites for an easy lunch break.
Cost: $6.38 on amazon.com
Munchkin Stay Put Suction Bowls
When our kiddos are just learning how to eat, sometimes their greatest obstacle is getting plates and bowls to stay put. That’s why we're fans of this set of stay-put suction bowls that come in three different sizes and colors. Kids can spoon cereal, yogurt, ice cream and more out of each without having it slide across the table and inevitably end up on the floor. Now if only our kiddos would stay put as easily during mealtime.
Cost: $7.99 on amazon.com
Amusement Meal Placemat
Because playing with food never goes out of style, this fantastic placemat by Marcus & Marcus is sure to be a hit. Kiddos will love rolling their blueberries down the elephant slide and making broccoli stalks climb up the stairs to dive into the pool. The nearby life preservers and sandcastle make the perfect nesting spot for non-solids, like syrups, yogurts or hummus. Choose from an array of bright colors, including red, pink, purple or yellow.
Cost: $16.99 on amazon.com
OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter
There’s nothing quite like a fresh bowl of cherries in August. But prepping them so your toddler can eat them safely… who has the time? With this OXO cherry pitter, everyone does. Pull off the stem, load in the cherry and watch the pit fly out the chute after you press it out, hole-punch-style. It’s super practical and incredibly entertaining for your tots too. At some point, they’ll be able to use it without help. Hooray for independence!
Cost: $13.95 on amazon.com