It’s an exciting, yet nerve-wracking, time for parents as their toddler gets off the bottle/ sippy cups and starts eating solid food. Most frequently, parents start out with kids divided plates because they’re super easy to portion control and to assort different food groups.
We know how our young-lings like to test the outer boundaries of their drinkware as we’ve discussed in our previous post on sippy cups.
The same generally applies to the new plates, utensils, and bowls your child will be graduating into.
For the sake of this post, we’ll review in detail these section plates for toddlers.
Toddler portion plates are usually made from plastic due to its ease of manufacturing.
It’s very easy to churn out all kinds of wacky, fun kids divided plates using plastic molds in the factory.
This makes it cheaper than many other materials out there. Although cheaper, does that mean better?
If you glance at our previous article on plastic safety, you’ll probably start to think otherwise about choosing plastic for your kids.
That’s exactly what I’m going to discuss next.
What materials and features are the best for kids divided plates?
We will dive into plastic, glass, bamboo plates and silicone toddler divided plates to find which one seems to be the best for a parent of young children.
First up, let’s just tackle the elephant in the room already and talk about plastic plates.
Kids Plastic Plates
As mentioned above, we know plastic is generally the dominant material used in kids divided plates. This is due to its versatility and ease of manufacturing. Divided kids plastic plates are in basically any home goods store and all over the internet, at very attractive prices.
But for the parents who want the best for their children, and are concerned about plastic chemicals, these are not the best option.
The problem with plastic plates usually is not immediate, but rather after continued use over time.
As plastic plates are exposed to more and more stressors (hot food, microwaving, dishwasher cycles, etc.) they can become very unsafe.
In one of our previous posts, we discussed how to identify the most unsafe plastics and also how these plastic chemicals can leach into your foods and drinks.
Over time, the above-mentioned stressors can wear away at your child’s divided plate and cause a higher likelihood of chemical leaching.
Even scratches in the plastic plate can release chemicals into food when heated.
Let’s not ignore the fact that there are “BPA-free” labeled plastic products out there, especially kid’s products.
But unfortunately, studies have shown that these might not be any safer.
Researchers tested hundreds of plastic products, many labeled BPA-free, and found that almost all the products tested leached EA chemicals.
This is most likely due to the different additives in the plastic.
“EA chemicals” are chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body, which have been linked to all kinds of health issues like negative effects on the heart, brain, and child developmental problems.
With all things considered, and all of the wonderful plastic-free kid’s dishes out on the market, it’s easy to steer clear of these risks!
While kids plastic plates are still a fine and acceptable option when used responsibly and not for extended periods of time, there are better options out there for the long run.
I’m going to discuss some safer alternatives now in the upcoming sections.
Kids Bamboo Plates
The next children’s plates we’ll discuss now are kids bamboo plates! These are great for so many reasons, the first and most obvious is that there’s NO PLASTIC!
The plates are made from 100% bamboo and do not risk imparting chemicals into your child’s food.
Because kids bamboo plates are made of natural bamboo, they can easily be microwaved or thrown in the dishwasher without worrying about wearing away the surface like plastic kids plates.
Over time as they become slightly worn, they will not lose their safety because there are no chemicals hidden away in the wood.
There’s nothing to hide.
For people who are very conscious of the environment, bamboo plates for toddlers are also biodegradable.
Bamboo is a plant, a natural organic material.
This material is 100% biodegradable and will break down in our Eco-system, so they won’t end up taking up space in landfills for hundreds of years like some other materials can!
Some bamboo kids plates come painted and usually, this is with a safe form of dye.
However, you never truly know if the paints used are safe or not.
So my best recommendation for going the bamboo route is to just choose the natural-looking, non-painted wooden baby plates.
Plus the natural look is way nicer in my opinion!
When it comes to kids divided plates, these are certainly a popular and trendy item!
Stainless Steel Divided Plate
The stainless steel divided plate is another great, Eco-friendly option for kids!
Stainless steel has become more and more popular lately for dinner plates because of its high corrosion resistance, cleanliness, and durability to last decades.
This makes them a highly economical choice for kids divided plates, especially in large families with lots of use!
Kids can be rough with their plates as we’ve mentioned and stainless steel does an incredible job withstanding abuse.
Even plastic and bamboo plates (although way less likely than glass) can still crack and break. The steel dinner plates, however, will not.
Stainless steel plates do not readily harbor germs, unlike wood or plastic.
It’s a very clean material due to it’s hard and smooth, non-porous surface. This is one reason why it’s commonly used by surgeons!
You can also easily see if it’s not been properly cleaned due to its mirror-like finish, therefore it is more hygienic to use.
This is very beneficial for young toddlers, whose immune systems aren’t yet at full strength.
Because of this hard smooth surface and durability, stainless steel dinner plates need very little care.
Just some mild detergent and a light scrubbing will polish them like new, or just throw them in the dishwasher!
Lastly, stainless steel divided plates are 100% recyclable.
Unlike plastic, which is not a green choice because of its lack of biodegradability and the energy-wasteful way it is produced, stainless steel is recyclable, long-lasting, and greener to make.
Stainless steel kids plates are the ultimate option when searching for a plate that can handle anything from throws across the room to the outdoors and camping trips.
As discussed above and in previous articles, studies show that BPA substitutes in plastics may be just as, or even more, hazardous to our health than BPA. The bottom line is that for parents who want to minimize chemical exposure for their children, plastic is not a great choice – but silicone plates are!
Silicone plates are rapidly becoming the main non-toxic replacement to plastic.
Glass and stainless steel are great for bottles and cups for children, but when it comes to plates, and mealtime travel gear, it becomes hard to resist the ease of shatterproof plastic.
But silicone is rapidly becoming the new wave for Eco-friendly kids divided plates.
While not a “100% natural” material like rubber, food-grade silicone is a non-toxic polymer mostly made from silica (sand).
It can withstand heating and freezing without leaching or off-gassing, hazardous chemicals – unlike plastics, which contaminate food in these environments.
It is also odor and stain-resistant, hypoallergenic, and because of its smooth surface, very easy to clean.
For these reasons, and because it is soft like rubber and does not break, it is the perfect material for non-toxic baby products.
Silicone plates are also highly mold-able in production.
Like plastic, it’s very easy to make all kinds of different designs.
For example, the baby blue plate pictured above on the bottom left is a silicone suction plate which prevents children from lifting it off the table!
Conclusion – Which to choose?
If you made it this far in the article, you should have a more thorough understanding of toddler plates and the materials used.
When choosing your kid’s divided plate, a few main features seem to be most desirable…
One of which is that they’re plastic-free.
We don’t want to expose our kids by using those cheap kids plastic plates, known to cause chemical leeching under stress (heating, sunlight, scratches, etc).
We also do not want anything breakable.
Kids dinner plates made from glass are clean and free of plastic yes, but can easily be shattered.
We want plates that can be thrown without a single worry (because let’s face it, that’s inevitable)
These make very nice plates for toddlers, however, they are still susceptible to cracking and should be used by more careful/ older children.
The winners seem to be both stainless steel plates and silicone plates for toddlers due to their cleanliness and durability!
They have the highest ability to remain sanitary, they can both be microwaved and put in the dishwasher, and even sanitized in boiling water.
Best of all they’re free of plastic and won’t break!
Disclosure: The products mentioned in this post were researched and discovered to be some of the best in their market. I did this as a resource for you in case you wanted to further explore that particular product/ brand, without doing the tedious research. I may receive a small commission if you purchase through those links at no cost to you.