Offering food to your baby (other than breast milk straight from the source) means the introduction of lots of food and drink related plastic baby/kid accessories: sippy cups, straw cups, net feeders, plastic bowls and plates, spoons and forks. All these items can be purchased at an ordinary grocery store or children’s department stores.
As cute as they can be when brand new, all these products quickly become disgusting and potentially hazardous when they are being used around the clock and every day of the week. The solution is always to just buy a whole new set and I hate having to replace items constantly just to keep them usable. My kids are now 2 and 4 years old so we have outgrown the need for these items.
Therefore, here is my list of five plastic items for kids I’m happy to ditch!
1. Sippy cups and straw cups:
These are nice because they are generally spill-proof. The problem is they always have ridiculous, unreachable crevices which quickly become a haven for gunk and even mold. Did your toddler leave a sippy cup of juice or milk into the corner of the room and you found it a day or two later? The cup has become a petri dish of mold and ick that often needs to be thrown out due to those uncleanable crevices.
Alternative: After doing the sippy cup fiasco with Big Bro, I skipped using them with Lil Sis. Instead I gave her a tiny cup (it actually came out of our toy kitchen set) and let her drink from that. Small glasses (such as shot glasses) made from thick glass can also be a safe alternative. Lil Sis mastered drinking from a cup very quickly. As she grew bigger she graduated to bigger cups. The few sippy cups I kept were only for drinking water upstairs, which helped keep them cleaner.
Netfeeders are actually pretty great in a way. You can give your 6 month old some chunks of fruit or other soft-ish foods without fear of them choking, and your baby gets the satisfaction of sinking their gums (or perhaps teeth) into something with substance. The problem is the nets themselves because just like sippy cups they are hard to wash so get moldy and yucky pretty easily. Companies do sell net refills, but that still requires buying more product just to keep the product usable. Alternative: Perhaps read up on Baby led weaning. Kathleen did a great post about BLW including a link to a video on how to perform infant CPR just in case.
3. Plastic Bowls and Plates:
These are handy because they don’t break when your child knocks it off the table. Still, they are plastic so they start breaking down and looking cloudy after frequent washings. The plastic doesn’t always wash well in the dishwasher (at least not in my dishwasher), and if you ever cut your child’s meat or other large food on the plastic plate with a real knife the knife cuts the plate as well as the food. This then leaves cracks that can collect stains and other residue. Once again, the solution is to simply buy replacement plates. Did I mention I don’t like being required to always buy more plastic stuff?
Alternative: Use a durable ceramic or glass plate and bowl. Corning Ware is pretty amazing on durability.
4. Plastic Forks and Spoons:
These are made to fit well into little mouths and are presumably gentler than metal utensils. Once again the plastic breaks down and starts looking cloudy and in generally poor shape. They also have a knack for getting into my garbage disposal and then coming out a chewed up mess. Once again the solution is to simply buy more. Not to mention that plastic forks can be frustrating for kids once they start feeding themselves with utensils. Ever try stabbing a slippery noodle with a plastic baby fork?
Alternative: When Lil Sis was 1.5 she saw an Elmo spoon and fork set at Kids City and loved it because she loved Elmo. We spent the money and got it. She used it for a few months and then around her second birthday transitioned to using our regular dessert spoons and forks.
5. The highchair/booster seat:
The booster seat makes it possible for your tiny human to sit at the table with the rest of the family, which is great. Yet, kids are amazing at getting food anywhere and everywhere. It requires constant cleaning between mealtimes and snacks and, like child dishes, has plenty of places for food to get into and hide: in the seat, under the seat cushion, in between the booster and the chair, etc. Now that we’re done with it, the only one who misses it is the dog.
Alternative: I don’t think there is one. Keep cleaning and remember this too shall pass.