Whether your kid just started enjoying banana puree off a spoon or loves to dig into a chicken cutlet with her own knife and fork, the right gear makes that journey to becoming a full-fledged eater infinitely easier. You’ll probably want to stock up in stages: As fine motor skills evolve and appetites change, so will the dishware and cutlery needs. Once you know you like a particular piece, it’s a good idea to buy it in multiples so you’re not frantically washing bowls and forks while your toddler wails for her third snack of the day.
Best Bowls for Puree Eaters, Self-Feeders & Beyond: Avanchy Stainless Steel Suction Bowl
Defend your walls and floor from the worst splatters with a bowl that has a strong suction cup base (for best performance, lightly wet the suction cup before pressing it down on the table or highchair tray). If your baby or toddler still overturns it, the bowl is still handy for when she starts mastering the spoon; the suction will help keep the bowl steady as she scoops. This stainless steel model is dishwasher safe, boasts an especially wide base for better suction, and comes with a handy lid for easy storing of leftovers (and oh, will you have leftovers).
Best Small Bowls for Snacks: RE-PLAY 12-ounce Stackable Bowls
These lightweight, remarkably sturdy bowls come in a dizzying assortment of colors and tick all the boxes: microwave-safe (to heat up food in small bursts), dishwasher-safe, and just big enough to comfortably hold a serving of steamed broccoli florets, a bowl of berries, or a handful of cheese crackers.
Best Plates for New Self-Feeders: Aegi New York Kids’ Divided Dinner Plates and Bowls with Suction
When your child progresses to chewable solids, partitioned plates are a great way to help them explore a wide variety of foods. Separating the food into sections helps make it easy for her to distinguish her beloved sliced cucumbers from her favorite teriyaki chicken, helping to showcase a range of colors and flavors in every meal. This high-quality silicone model, available in an array of moody pastels, goes from dishwasher to microwave without any fuss.
Best Plate for Older Self-Feeders: RE-PLAY Toddler Feeding Divided Plates
Made from recycled milk jugs, these handy partitioned plates are surprisingly affordable and remarkably indestructible. Since they lack suction, they’re particularly well suited to older kids who tend to keep their food (mostly) on their plates. Pick up a couple sets and clear off space in your cabinet for a cheerfully colored stack.
Best Sturdy Kid-Sized Plate: Ekobo Recycled Kids’ Bamboo Dinnerware
Once your child reliably eats without knocking her bowl or plate off the table, this dishwasher-safe set is a smart next step. Almost as sturdy as plastic (but without the BPA and phthalates), these biodegradable bamboo plates are bound with melamine for durability. Available in a range of solids and patterns, the set makes for a terrific gift as well.
Best Trainer Cup: Munchkin Miracle 360 Training Cup
Help new eaters master drinking too with this clever and beloved take on the training cup. Thanks to the clever mechanism, water only releases when someone gently presses or bites on the rim, helping to minimize spills.
Best Weighted Open Cup for Older Babies: BabyBjörn Baby Cup
Many parents choose to transition straight from bottle and/or breast to an open cup, and this one is an excellent stepping stone. It’s pretty darn small and angled to fit tiny two-handed grips, and the weighted base minimizes tip-overs.
Best Open Cup for Big Kids: Oxo Tot Cup for Big Kids With Non-Slip Grip
Holding just over a half cup of liquid, this cup is a big help to transition a kid to regular drinking glasses. The gently sloping edge and silicone band help make each sip a success, and the clear BPA-free material helps your child gauge how much liquid is left in the cup—another key factor in avoiding spillage.
Best Spoons for Spoon-Feeding Purees: Munchkin Silicone Gentle Spoons
These elongated, soft-tipped silicone spoons are just right for nudging modest amounts of puree into the mouths of newbie eaters.
Best Utensils for New Self-Feeders: Bumkins Silicone Chewtensils Baby Fork and Spoon Set
Babies and young toddlers who are learning how to self-feed soft pieces of food will generally use their hands, but these utensils are still terrific for practice—and the spoon helps cut down (a bit!) on mess when little ones are feeding themselves puree and mashes.
Best Utensils for Older Toddlers: Gerber Graduates Cutlery Assorted
This set mimics the shape of adult-size cutlery remarkably well (except for the plastic handles, of course) and that means they spear, scoop, and gently slice much more effectively than most toddler utensils.
What’s your favorite kids’ eating gear? Let us know in the comments.