Toddler mealtime is challenging enough… But, well-designed, kids’ non-toxic dinnerware can simplify it. Yet, non-toxic is key.
Typically, kids’ dishes are plastic. It’s lightweight and shatterproof, unlike “grown-up” ceramic. But does plastic really make the best plates for kids? Consider this:
Plastic dinnerware contains toxic chemicals which may lead to early puberty, low sperm count, hyperactivity, and aggressiveness – to name a few. Even worse – trusting which “kid-friendly dinnerware materials” are truly safe proves more difficult than believing a toxic lover’s excuses.
So, what to do? What are the best kids’ dinnerware sets available today – and the safest?
That’s what you’ll find here!
Below we review the best dinnerware for kids… All 11 picks are lightweight and more durable than plastic. Yet, 100% non-toxic like glass, without the breakage.
But that’s not all we’ll cover. You’ll also find out which other dinneware materials to avoid – and why, pros and cons of the three best kids tableware materials – with pros and cons for each, and tips on avoiding the riskiest plastics.
As a bonus, I’ll share my favorite hack to find the safest dinnerware online moving forward. (And never get misled by shoddy brands again).
- Top Dinnerware Picks: Quick Links
- Dishware to Avoid
- Safest Kids Dinnerware Materials
- 7 Buying Considerations
- 11 Best Non-Toxic Dinnerware Items for Kids
- Health Concerns (& Impacts) of Unsafe Dinnerware
- Tips to Avoid the Worst Plastic
- How to Find the Safest Dinnerware When Shopping
11 Best & Safest Dinnerware Picks for Kids – Quick View
You can click these Quick View links to jump ahead to each product’s review:
- Silikong’s Silicone Kids Plates | Best Plates for Kids Overall
- Avanchy’s Bamboo Kids Plates | Best Suction Plates for Toddlers
- WeeSprout Silicone Toddler Plates | Best Divided Plates for Toddlers
- HaWare’s Dish Set | Best Stainless Steel Plates for Kids
- Avanchy Suction Bowl | Best Toddler Bowl
- Bobo & Boo Plant-Based | Best Kids Dinnerware Set
- Stainless Steel Kids Cups with Lids | Best Kid’s Cups
- Chewbeads | Best Non-Toxic Flatware for 12 months +
- Exzact | Best Toddler Silverware for 24 Months +
- Avanchy Spoon Set | Best Bamboo Baby Spoons for 6 Months +
- Lunchbots Medium Trio II | Best Toddler Snack Container
Which Kids Dishware Should I Avoid?
Children’s tableware is under constant assault. Hence why—as mentioned—glass and ceramic plates aren’t ideal.
Breakable, sure, but cumbersome too.
We know plastic isn’t a great choice either. When taking a deeper look at the research, a grim discovery awaits.
The truth is, most plastics inject hormone-disrupting chemicals into your body… BPA is one of them.
But is BPA the only material in children’s dinnerware to avoid?
What else to avoid:
Along with BPA in plastic, here are some other troubling materials to avoid:
- BPS (found in BPA-free toddler plates)
- Lead & Cadmium
- PFAS (includes Teflon)
- Melamine (both melamine plastic & melamine bamboo)
Near the end, we’ll dive deeper into each—covering their health and environmental impacts.
You can click here to jump down to that section.
But for now, let’s dive straight into the best kid’s dinnerware materials. Each is safer, lasts longer, and performs better than plastic!
Safest Materials for Kids Plates, Cups, & Cutlery
Non-toxic dinnerware, and especially kid-safe dinnerware, needs to fit certain criteria:
- No plastic
- & No nasty chemical leaching.
But we don’t stop there.
For example, we’re also considering the material’s softness to prevent injury. Plus, the biodegradability and recyclability of eco-friendly kids’ dinnerware.
So, here are the three best kids dinnerware materials that follow these criteria:
Let’s explore the pros and cons of all three to help guide your choice. Then, browse our top picks!
- Extra-rugged: Stainless steel tableware won’t break, even if hurled across the room like a rag doll.
- Versatile & low-maintenance: Dishwasher, oven, fridge, & freezer-safe.
- Steel’s hygienic surface will not corrode, rust, or stain. Plus, never absorb odors or bacteria – so it stays like-new for many years! An actual one-time dinnerware buy that saves you cash!
- Eco-friendly & 100% recyclable.
- Not microwave-safe
- Can leach nickel and chromium. (This is safe unless your child is allergic.)
Many believe silicone = plastic. But this is a common misconception.
Instead, this non-toxic, chemically-stable material is more of a rubber hybrid. Silicone doesn’t come from crude oil distillation. Petroplastics do.
To produce silicone, manufacturers combine oxygen and silicon (or silica, aka beach sand).
- Non-toxic & non-reactive material. Silicone won’t leach or off-gas chemicals when heated as plastic does.
- Oven, microwave, dishwasher, & freezer-safe.
- Flexible, soft texture that prevents injury or damage if bitten, dropped, or thrown. It’s unbreakable, too.
- Available in limitless fun designs & color options, like the suction plates below!
- Recyclable (but check with your local recycling center).
- Silicone bends, so take caution when handling food.
- At times, silicone children’s dishes may absorb the smell or flavor of dish soap. Yet, this is common. Drop the silicone dish into boiling water for 15 minutes to rid the odor.
This includes bamboo, corn starch, sugarcane, and other organic materials.
- All-natural, non-toxic, & antimicrobial, making it a healthy choice for non-toxic baby feeding products.
- Lighter-weight than stainless steel & silicone, yet durable & shatterproof.
- Sustainable & eco-friendly. Plant-based dinnerware renews rapidly, especially bamboo… Some species grow 36″ in 24 hours! These non-plastic kid’s plates are biodegradable, too.
- Limit using the dishwasher. High heat & moisture can eventually swell/ crack the plate.
- Excessive drops on hard floors can split the bamboo.
- *Melamine-bonded bamboo dinnerware cannot go in the microwave.
*Important: Most colorful bamboo kid’s plates use melamine binders, which can leach when heated. Always try to avoid these.
(More on melamine in our final section, plus how to check if a dish contains it).
Also, make sure any coloring is lead-free. The melamine-free plant-based set below used mineral-based pigments.
7 Buying Considerations for Your Family
I recommend grabbing dinnerware that fits your family’s specific needs.
You don’t want something that ends up collecting dust in your cabinet.
So, think through the following questions. Use them to help guide your decision in the next section:
1. Consider the material. Is your kid rough with their dishware?
Stainless steel is the most durable dinnerware, and silicone is a safe bet too.
Bamboo may crack if thrown, so it’s often better for older kids. Or when you’re not too worried about flying dishes. That leads us to—
2. Is your kid a thrower or pusher? Perhaps you need the best toddler plates that stick to the table?
Silicone suction dishes are the best plates for toddlers who toss their dinnerware. They’ll stick to your table and prevent lifting.
Even non-suction silicone is helpful, too, as it grips the table.
3. How many pieces do you need?
Are you hunting for a complete toddler dinnerware set? Or, individual plates, bowls, and cups?
Below you’ll find an excellent 3-piece set. Also, single pieces – ranging from older kid’s plates to non-toxic baby dishes and spoons.
4. How important is sustainability to you?
Plant-based tableware wins the sustainability contest. Stainless steel comes in second place, as it’s 100% recyclable without losing quality. You can recycle silicone, but not every town accepts it.
5. How much time do you have to clean?
Are you busy and need dishwasher-safe dinnerware? If so, choose stainless steel or silicone kid’s plates. They’ll never swell from moisture.
6. Do your kids have any color or design preferences?
Silicone provides the most options, followed by plant-based.
7. Do you need a divided plate or regular toddler dishes?
Divided plates are good for kids who hate when their food mixes. They’ll make dinner time smoother for all while encouraging healthy habits.
Next up, let’s dive into our top kid-friendly dinnerware picks!
11 Best Non-Toxic Kids Plates, Cups, & Cutlery for Health, Durability, & Practicality
To make the following picks, we turned to dozens of real customers who’ve used these products over time… Seeing what they liked, didn’t like, etc. Plus, I applied my own knowledge and experience of materials from sourcing these types of products myself.
So, each pick below is highly-rated, trusted, and 100% plastic-free. Also, free from melamine-formaldehyde resins.
You can jump ahead to each category using these links below:
Best plates for kids (& the safest)
Silikong | Best Kids Dishes Overall
Silicone kids’ plates themselves are already a fantastic feeding tool. Safe, soft, and long-lasting…
Yet, Silikong’s non-plastic children’s dishes go a step further—
With a gentle push, the plate clings to high chairs and tables like a magnet on metal. Your little hulk doesn’t have a chance to launch their meal onto the floor!
Plus, the straight edge allows kids to belly up to the plate. So, any food that misses their mouth lands in the dish, reducing mess.
Use it at home to build feeding independence without too much collateral damage.
Or, bring your kid’s dish set along to restaurants to prevent mishaps!
- 100% food-grade silicone without fillers – third-party lab tested for purity.
- Microwave, dishwasher, boil, & oven-safe to 425℉ for convenience.
- A high-powered suction base clings to smooth surfaces without harming the finish. Some of the best kids’ dishes for baby-led weaning!
- Three divided sections with a raised rim. Keeps food separate & helps toddlers practice scooping without spills.
- Soft yet rigid enough to prevent flopping food onto the floor.
- Straight-edge design allows kids to belly up to the plate, helping to catch food.
- Measures 8.2″ x 7.3″x 1.4” tall (20.8 x 18.5 x 3.5cm) – one of the best toddler plate sizes to transition to big-kids dinner plate sets.
- Available in six color options.
Drawbacks: Like any suction plate, some kids figure out how to release the suction. So, you’re taking that gamble. But, even if they figure out how to lift the plate, you still have a soft, unbreakable dish that does no damage if dropped.
Overall, this is the best non-plastic toddler dishware pick, in my opinion.
Between this plate’s suction, safety, low price, and design, no kitchen is complete without one! Check them out!
Want to buy elsewhere? Grab Silikong’s suction plate here on Etsy with carbon-offset shipping.
Avanchy | Best Non-Toxic Toddler Plates with Suction
Flying food isn’t fun (to us, at least)… Good thing Avanchy’s plate also sticks to any table or high chair, preventing disaster!
But, the bamboo/ silicone combo offers a few benefits over the above suction dish—
It’s more rigid, providing extra stability when carrying a plate of food.
It’s also a bit more of an eco-friendly kids’ plate, considering the bamboo is biodegradable.
And unlike most competing brands, Avanchy does not use melamine in its bamboo!
But the best part?
As your toddler outgrows the suction, simply pull the base off, and now you have a regular big-kid plate!
- 100% plastic & melamine-free organic bamboo with food-grade silicone. All parts meet FDA, Swiss SGS, Japanese Sanitation, & Korean safety standards.
- Three perfectly-portioned, divided sections with raised rims. Helps build healthy eating habits & scoop without a mess. Prefer the same kids’ dinner plate without divided sections? Get it here!
- Powerful, removable suction bottom, so the plate grows with your child. This stretches your dollar further than non-removable sets.
- Includes a FREE 5.5” long (13.9cm) bamboo/ silicone spoon. It’s wide enough to prevent choking & plenty soft for teething babies.
- Measures 7.5” round x 2” tall (19 x 5cm). Also available, a larger 8.5” x 2.5” version (21.6 x 6.3cm).
Side note: Although this dish is melamine-free, try to limit the microwave. The natural bamboo can eventually dry out and crack.
Drawbacks: Like Silikong, kids may figure out how to release the suction. One way to combat this is by facing the suction release tab away from your child’s eyes and curious fingers.
Want to buy elsewhere? Grab this bamboo suction dish here on Etsy with carbon-offset shipping. (FYI, only the 8.5″ x 2.5″ size is available on Etsy right now.)
WeeSprout | Best Divided Non-Toxic Toddler Plates
Are you looking for silicone non-toxic baby plates without suction bottoms?
Weesprout has you covered!
Their non-plastic toddler plates sit right in between suction plates and adult dinnerware…. Ideal for when you don’t need a suction base yet want some degree of mess-prevention.
Now, although there’s no suction bottom, the silicone grips most surfaces. It’ll help prevent kids from pushing their plates off the table.
And, even if thrown, the dishes will never break! (Plus, no loud noise or damage to your floor!)
- 100% FDA-approved, food-grade silicone – no fillers.
- Thick enough to prevent bending & food flopping onto the floor.
- Stackable in your cabinet, which saves much-needed cabinet space.
- Deep, divided sections prevent mess as your toddler practices scooping.
- Beautiful, modern colors that suit any kitchen.
- Microwave, dishwasher, boil, & oven-safe to 425℉.
- Measures 7.75″ wide x 1.25″ deep (19.6 x 3.1cm).
Best of all, WeeSprout prides itself on strong family values and customer respect—
One customer said: “I was in shock at how proactive this company is, as well as quick to respond and reach out to their customers.”
Drawbacks: Some complaints that the dishwasher leaves a residue that makes food taste soapy. If that happens, boil the plate for 15 minutes in a large pot and use mild soap moving forward.
HaWare |Best Stainless Steel Plates for Kids
Are you facing unusually strong kiddos? Yet, aren’t a fan of silicone due to its texture/ flexibility? Stainless steel children’s plates are your perfect remedy!
You’ll love the ruggedness and light weight of HaWare’s stainless steel kids plates. They’re easy to hold, easy to stack, never bend, and never break!
Plus, they’re great for adults, too!
Use your kid’s stainless steel plates for salads and even travel… Without concern for broken dishes in your bag!
- High-quality, rust-proof 18/8 stainless steel kids’ plates.
- Smooth round edges to protect your child’s skin & floor if dropped.
- Matte polished to prevent fingerprints & stuck-on food, keeping your plates like-new for years. The dish almost washes itself!
- Dishwasher-safe, ideal for those hectic evenings. Also oven-safe, so you can reheat food right in your toaster oven.
- Not just for kids! Use them as a sturdy surface when removing food from the bbq or for camping. They even make great serving dishes for pets who dislike bowls!
- 4-pack – 7.9″ inch diameter (20cm) – perfectly-sized children’s dishes that fit most high chairs. They stack tightly in your cabinet for space-saving storage too.
Drawbacks: Some complaints that the plate spins on flat surfaces. But, this doesn’t appear to be a common occurrence. Also, the plate’s edges are a bit shallow… For something with deeper sides, check out this set here.
Overall, this is an inexpensive, one-time investment. It’ll last your mini-me’s entire childhood, as the best kids’ plates should!
Is your kid in a “my food can’t touch” phase? Stainless steel divided plates will fix that!
Avanchy | Best Toddler Bowl
Like their kid-friendly plates, Avanchy uses melamine-free bamboo and silicone for their bowls.
Reviewers mention how much better this bowl’s suction is when compared to other brands… It’ll keep your mop in the closet and buy some peace at dinnertime!
Customers also praise this bowl’s versatility—
With the removable suction base, the bowl grows with your child. Simply take the silicone off when they outgrow the suction.
But are kids the only ones who benefit?
Nope! Pull the bottom off to transform it into a stylish serving bowl for salsa and guacamole!
- 100% plastic & melamine-free organic bamboo with food-grade silicone. All parts meet FDA, Swiss SGS, Japanese Sanitation, & Korean safety standards.
- Simple yet stylish design & modern colors. They’re satisfying for both kids & parents, without looking too obnoxious.
- Removable silicone suction base. Take the bottom off for a thorough scrub & multipurpose use.
- Includes a FREE 5.5” long (13.9cm) bamboo/ silicone spoon. It’s wide enough to prevent choking & plenty soft for teething babies.
- Bowl measures 5″ wide x 3″ tall (12.7 x 7.6cm) and holds about 11.5oz of liquid.
- Available in eight color options.
Drawbacks: Like the suction plates above, these don’t work well for every single kid. And although melamine-free, try to avoid frequent microwaving. It can dry out and possibly even burn the bamboo.
Want to buy elsewhere? Grab this nearly identical suction bowl from Bamboo Bamboo here on Etsy. You can choose from eight silicone color options!
Bobo & Boo Plant-Based | Best Kids Dinnerware Set
We know most colorful bamboo kid’s plates contain melamine. So, to heat food safely, we resort to plain bamboo (like Avanchy’s kids’ plates and bowls above)—
Yet, Bobo & Boo crafts this set from corn, wheat, and sweet potatoes… Without melamine!
The resulting kid’s dishes aren’t only dishwasher-safe but microwave-safe, too! (Unlike typical bamboo kid plates.)
Plus, the bright, modern hues make a statement on your table and keep your children engaged.
Best of all, your plates will degrade in the landfill if/ when thrown away!
- Plant-based & biodegradable – melamine-free & 100% non-plastic toddler dishware.
- Lifted plate rim prevents spills & helps toddlers scoop without a mess, building independence. They stack together in your cabinet, too.
- Dishwasher & microwave-safe to save time & hassle, unlike competing options.
- Nestled in attractive, 100% plastic-free packaging. Gift your friends the best eco-friendly kids’ plates for their family!
- Uses all-natural, mineral-based pigments for the vibrant coloring—Lead-free & food-safe.
- 3-pack includes: One 7.5” wide plate (19cm), one 5.3” wide x 2” deep bowl (13.4 x 5cm), & one 10oz cup.
- 365-day warranty
Drawbacks: Bobo&Boo’s plant-based dinnerware is shaped differently than their traditional bamboo sets. So, these don’t stack well with their other products, which some frequent customers didn’t like.
Want to buy elsewhere? Grab this dinnerware set direct from Bobo&Boo here. Enter the code GOODDESIGN15 at checkout for 15% off!
Best Non-Toxic Kids Cups
For non-toxic, non-plastic kids’ cups – stainless steel and plant-based take the cake.
Both are non-toxic, but stainless steel will serve its purpose longer than plant-based.
So, for rougher kids, choose stainless steel for its ruggedness and lifespan.
Stainless Steel Kids Cups with Silicone Sippy Lids (8oz)
Don’t want to buy new sippy cups every few months while your kid grows like a weed? Is your kid a thrower, and you’re sick of cracked plastic?
We addressed both of those concerns when designing our non-plastic kids’ cups. And kept simplicity at the forefront—
There are only two plastic-free parts. 18/8 stainless steel open cups and soft, food-grade silicone lids!
For young children, stretch on a lid to transform the open cups into spill-proof sippies in seconds… Then, as your child outgrows the sippy, use the cups without the tops!
There’s no need to buy separate cups every year or two. Like Avanchy’s kid’s dishes, these grow with your child.
- Third-party tested & CPSIA-certified; tested & proven to be true non-toxic kids cups.
- Electro-polished interior for no-sweat cleaning & zero metallic taste.
- Instantly “spill-proof” your cup. Perfect for road trips & handing your child stain-inducing juice with confidence.
- Soft lids protect your toddler’s teeth if they bite.
- Wide-base to limit tipping, spills, and mess.
- Smooth, rolled rims to guard your child’s lips against injury.
- Sleek, gender-neutral colors that kids & parents love.
- Cups & lids are both dishwasher-safe. Enjoy easy, quick cleaning so you can get back to bingeing Netflix.
- Includes four 8 oz cups and four lids: Each cup measures 3.5″ tall and 2.8″ wide (8.9 x 7.1cm).
- 365-day warranty
Drawbacks: The natural silicone lids can eventually rip. Of course, overstretching the covers and putting your finger through the spout can tear the silicone even faster. But, that’s why we have a 1-year warranty!
Want to buy elsewhere? Contact us to inquire about buying direct!
Are we out of stock? Here’s a comparable set from Sunzio.
Softer plant-based alternative: If you’re looking for softer drinkware, pick Bobo & Boo’s non-toxic cup set. It’s a 3-pack of the identical plant-based cups included in their set above.
Best Non-toxic Toddler Cutlery
When choosing the best toddler cutlery, both material and design are key—
Sure, we want non-toxic flatware… But it goes beyond safe materials.
We need well-designed, baby-safe utensils that prevent painful pokes yet encourage independence.
Below you’ll find the three best flatware sets that check all those boxes.
First up, two stainless steel picks – non-toxic baby utensils for 12 months +, and a set for 24 months +. And second, the best bamboo spoons for teething babies.
Chewbeads | 12 months +
When you need the best baby utensils for self-feeding practice, Chewbeads is it—
They use only 304-grade stainless steel and medical-grade silicone… No plastic in sight.
Non-toxic, yes, but the design itself is where this set shines:
You’ll notice a slightly bent handle that contours to your toddler’s hand. Also, a somewhat tapered spoon edge.
Both features make the cutlery easier to hold and scoop while limiting spills.
And the beaded silicone handles keep their grip, even when wet. They protect your baby’s teeth, too!
- Soft silicone handles provide an easy-to-hold grip & protect your child’s teeth. They also grip & resist sliding off the table.
- Child-safe forks with semi-rounded edges. Plenty sharp to pick up food, yet blunt enough to stop painful pokes.
- The forks measure 5.5″ x 1 ” (13.9 x 2.5cm). Spoons measure 5.5″ x 1.25” (13.9 x 3.1cm).
- A pink/ purple combo is also available.
Drawbacks: The only real complaints I noticed were about the handles. Some users thought they were too bulky for their toddler’s hand, but most customers have no issues.
Exzact | 24 Months +
Here’s another prime example of toddler cutlery designed to encourage independence. You’ll notice this set resembles adult silverware to a T.
Except with few slight differences…
For one, the smaller size fits snug in your toddler’s hands. It’ll feel for them how we feel holding our silverware, making for a smoother transition.
Another unique difference is the fork’s safer edges to prevent sharp skin jabs.
Plus, kid-friendly knives with safe edges and extra-rounded spoons for easier scooping.
Last but not least, your kid will love the fun animal etchings on the handles!
- Mirror-polished, non-allergenic 18/0 stainless steel (nickel-free). A perfect choice for allergy sufferers.
- Semi-blunt fork points with just enough sharpness to stab food. Yet, not enough to hurt yourself.
- Kid-friendly knives that glide through food & spread butter without slicing skin.
- 9-piece non-toxic cutlery set includes forks, spoons, & knives – three of each:
- The forks measure 5.7″ long (14.4cm). The spoons, 5.5″ long (13.9cm). And the knives, 6.8″ long (17.2cm). All about 1 ⅝” wide (4.1cm).
Drawbacks: Some parents find the forks too sharp, so keep that in mind. This set is best for older toddlers.
Want to buy elsewhere? Here’s a nearly identical 9-piece set on Etsy from the brand Treehouse.
Avanchy | 6 Months +
“My 11 month old refused to feed herself, even though she knows how. So I bought these hoping it would help and they did! She immediately picked up the spoon and started feeding herself, I was amazed!”—
This review sums up most. Parents love this set’s style, safety, and natural feel that encourages self-feeding.
We can thank the clever design for that… Each spoon’s soft silicone head protects your child’s tender gums and teeth.
Teething baby? They’re made for that!
Plus, the bamboo handle stays cool to the touch, never sweats, and never gets slippery when wet. It’s cut short, too, making the spoons comfortable to hold with small hands.
- All-natural, unpainted bamboo (melamine-free) & food-grade silicone – zero plastic!
- Extra-wide silicone spoon. Protects your baby’s teeth & ensures more food arrives in their mouth without spilling.
- Short handles fit your baby’s hand like a glove, giving a natural feel.
- Five vibrant colors that kids love. Have several children? Give everyone their favorite color(s)!
- Eco-friendly baby spoons that degrade when thrown away, unlike plastic. You can remove & recycle the silicone tips too.
Drawbacks: A few parents (with toddlers under a year old) did not like the width of the spoons. They felt the silicone piece was too wide for their baby’s mouth. So, keep that in mind for tiny eaters.
Non-Toxic Lunch Box for Toddlers
Food spends hours cooped up in plastic Tupperware and Ziplocs… Often through varying temperatures.
If there’s ever an optimal time for chemicals to leach into food, this is it.
That’s why we included a non-toxic lunch box for toddlers in the list. While not necessarily kids dinnerware, it’s a critical swap to make.
Here’s our top pick:
Lunchbots Medium Trio II | Best Toddler Snack Container
With Lunchbots’ 304-grade non-toxic lunch containers, you can ditch plastic baggies for good.
Plus, the rugged steel frame prevents snack-crushing accidents!
With three divided sections, you can fit a half sandwich on the larger side. Then, add dry snacks like nuts or grapes in both smaller compartments.
- 100% high-quality 304-grade steel, designed for a lifetime of daily use – zero plastic.
- Shields snacks while eliminating your need for Ziplocs. It’ll save cash and lower your child’s exposure to plastic chemicals.
- Three divided sections to separate various kiddie foods or portion-control adult snacks.
- Measures 6″ x 5″ x 1.75″ (15.2 x 12.7 x 4.4cm) – designed for small hands & compact enough to slip into any bag & bring on any adventure.
- Lunchbots carries several other options, some with extra compartments and others with none.
Here’s Why the Dinnerware Above is So Vital
…Health Impacts of Unsafe Kids Dinnerware Materials
We covered the unsafe materials to avoid, healthy kid-friendly dinnerware types, and the top 11 picks.
Now, as promised, let’s dive deeper into these (unsafe) materials’ health impacts.
The truth about plastic dinnerware—
BPA—used to harden plastic dinnerware—leaches into foods and beverages under stress. (i.e., hot food/ microwaving, sunlight, touching acidic foods, etc.)
Unfortunately, scientists link BPA exposure to several health conditions… And children are most vulnerable to its effects.
BPA’s potential health impacts include:
- Early puberty
- Low sperm count
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Effects on fetal brain development
- Certain cancers
More troubling is the BPA-free frenzy. I’m sure you’ve noticed all the “BPA-free” labels on everything.
But many wonder, are these plastic dishes safe for kids?
Are BPA-free plastic plates safe?
BPA-free children’s plates contain BPS instead of BPA – a close cousin.
But, BPA-free alternatives aren’t as safe as once thought.
The University of Texas Medical Branch found BPS disrupts cell function… Just like BPA.
See how vital it is to use non-plastic plates for toddlers, despite “BPA-free” labels?
Phthalates & PVC – two other plastic culprits
Phthalates are groups of chemicals used to make plastics flexible and hard to break. Like BPA/ BPS, phthalates can leach into your child’s food.
Studies on lab animals show phthalates function as anti-androgens (testosterone blockers). Anti-androgens wreak havoc on the male reproductive system.
PVC, or polystyrene, releases phthalates into food and drinks. Plus, its manufacturing emits poisonous compounds into the environment.
Recycling PVC proves to be a relentless challenge, too.
The bottom line on plastic—
A 2011 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives dropped a bomb on plastic:
“Almost all 455 commercially available plastics leached estrogenic chemicals during testing.”
So, there really is no “safe” plastic… Especially considering a toddler’s vulnerability.
Lead & cadmium
Lead and cadmium are a concern when using ceramic dishware…
Especially with antique pieces like vintage china and handmade/ hand-painted dinner plates.
These metals help seal the ceramic’s glaze and enhance bright colors.
But, lead and cadmium can leach from poorly-made ceramics. The risk increases further when microwaving and serving acidic foods, according to CDPH.
Exposure to lead may cause anemia, kidney, and brain damage, to name a few, the CDC states.
And cadmium can damage the lungs, the stomach, and even contribute to cancer.
PFAS (includes Teflon)
Are melamine plates safe?
According to the FDA, acidic foods and high heat cause melamine to leach into food. For example, when heating pasta with red sauce in a microwave. So, avoid using melamine plates with young children.
What exactly is melamine?
Melamine toddler dishes (plastic and bamboo) contain a formaldehyde resin. The resin helps mold the plate.
Now, most of the formaldehyde burns off during production… But, some does remain in the finished dish.
Once leached and consumed, melamine may contribute to kidney stones and kidney failure.
It’s also terrible for the environment.
Like standard plastic, melamine is non-biodegradable. It pollutes waterways and impacts growth rates in several marine species, too. That’s why the above products are 100% melamine-free.
(Side note) If You Have to Use Plastic, Keep This in Mind:
Nowadays, evading plastic isn’t always easy.
While I said there’s no “good” plastic, some types are worse than others. How can you tell?
Flip the item over and look at the number inside of the triangle (the recycling symbol):
- Avoid #3 plastic (PCS), #6 (Polystyrene), and #7 (Miscellaneous).
- PVC-free plastics (#’s 2, 4, & 5), although not good, aren’t as bad as #’s 3, 6, & 7.
- Do not heat in the microwave. (“Microwave-safe” only means the plastic won’t melt, not necessarily that it’s harmless). Use glass Tupperware to reheat – Pyrex, for example.
- Do not store acidic foods in plastic. Acids fast-forward leaching.
- Do not use scratched, worn-out, or cloudy plastics for your food and beverages.
- Hand-wash plastics with non-abrasive scrubbers to avoid wear and tear.
Again, follow these best practices IF you need to use plastic.
When you can switch 100% to plastic-free dinnerware, keep the following tips in mind as you shop—
Tips for Finding Safer Dinnerware Moving Forward
I use these tips to evaluate dinnerware brands (really anything) online. Knowing this info, you’ll be able to find the safer dishware with ease.
Identifying the safest stainless steel:
Check the product description and make sure the item is 300 series stainless steel. Common types include 304-grade, 316-grade, 18/8, and 18/10.
Stay away from 201-grade stainless steel. More affordable, yes, but it can rust and affect food/ drink flavor.
Customer reviews complaining about rust are one red flag for 200 series.
Also, make sure the steel is polished… Whether mirror-polished, matte, or electro-polished.
Refer to the above image. Look at the electro-polished, 304-grade steel cup (left). Compare it to the non-electropolished, 201-grade steel cup (right).
See the difference?
The 201-grade cup has a darker, pitted surface. Plus, tiny grooves from the machinery (which collect rust).
Yet, the electro-polished cup is smooth, rust-free, and has a powder coat look.
Refer to this comparison whenever browsing products – in-person or in product images online.
How to tell if bamboo dinnerware contains melamine:
Skim through the product description. You may notice the “BPA-free” and “plastic-free” phrasing. Good things, but irrelevant to what we’re looking for.
Check for wording like the above graphic.
Whether you see “melamine” or “non-toxic, food-safe melamine binder,” it’s all the same. It’s melamine-formaldehyde.
That’s simple enough, but this is key—
Often, sellers (unintentionally) neglect to disclose whether or not their dishes contain melamine.
But, if the plate IS melamine-free, you bet the seller will advertise that.
So, if you’re looking at colorful bamboo dishes yet don’t see info about melamine, assume the plate contains it.
The bottom line on bamboo plates: When you need (truly) safe dishes for toddlers, you must see “melamine-free.”
A shortcut to find the above details in seconds:
Browsing through full product descriptions online is time-consuming.
So, do this to gauge product safety quickly:
- When viewing any product page on your computer, press Ctrl+F (Windows/ Chrome OS) or Command+F (Mac).
- A little search bar will open up.
- For stainless steel, type “grade” or “304” or “18/8” or even just “stainless steel” in the search bar.
- The page will automatically highlight mentions of the phrase.
- Read the wording. Does the seller specifically mention the item is 304, 316, 18/8, or 18/10-grade stainless? If they don’t, avoid the product.
- For bamboo dinnerware, do the same thing. Type in “melamine” or “binder.” If the dish isn’t melamine-free, keep looking. If the brand never mentions melamine altogether, keep looking.
You can use this shortcut for anything you’re curious about.
For example, let’s say you’re not sure if an item contains plastic or not…
Simply type “plastic” into that search bar to check!
My Favorite Amazon Shopping Tip – The Q&A Search Box Method
- On an Amazon product listing, scroll down to Customer Questions & Answers just above the review section.
- There’s a search bar right under those words.
- Use this search bar the same way as the Ctrl+F shortcut above. Type in those same phrases.
This method is helpful when the brand doesn’t mention materials upfront.
The search bar pulls up any customer mention or complaint hidden in the reviews! Or a customer’s question about the same topic and the seller’s response.
Phew, you made it! We covered a lot of material in this kids’ non-toxic dinnerware guide... Here’s a quick recap—
You saw the unsafe kids’ dinnerware to avoid.
Then, the pros and cons of all three kid-friendly dinnerware materials.
Next, the best non-toxic plates for toddlers – non-toxic baby utensils – non-plastic kids’ cups – and the safest non-toxic lunch box.
And finally, actionable tips for finding the best dinnerware for kids moving forward.
Now it’s your turn… Which set will you pick?
P.S. Now that you’ve scored safe kids dinnerware, it’s time to audit yours! This dinnerware guide shows you if your ceramic dinner plates are leaching toxins, and what to do if so.
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Safest Non-Toxic Kid’s Tableware Checklist
Discover how to IMMEDIATELY detect subpar kids dinnerware products when browsing online.