Detoxing dinner time

It’s frustrating to think that the lovingly-prepared food you’ve made for your child may be sitting on a dish that could be leaching chemicals into it. But fear not, dear parents, there is a better way.

What to avoid when choosing dishware and utensils

It can be totally overwhelming when you’re at a store and you’re confronted with a sea of brightly colored character dishes. Which ones should you buy? Before purchasing anything, you should be aware that there are several materials that are best avoided when choosing dishware and food storage:

Melamine: Melamine dishes are very popular.  They’re durable and often colorfully decorated with super heroes and princesses. Melamine resin is manufactured by mixing urea with formaldehyde under heat and pressure. The substances begin to polymerize and are forced into a mold which will create the desired shape.  The issue here is that over time and exposure to hot or acidic foods, these products can begin to leach unsavory chemicals into your food. Chances are that you didn’t intend for melamine monomer or formaldehyde to leach into your tot’s macaroni and cheese. Melamine is also not recyclable so it ends up fossilized in a garbage dump for eternity, leaching chemicals into our waterways.

Plastics: Bisphenol-a (BPA) mimics estrogen in the body which spells trouble for a developing child.  Hormone disrupting chemicals are best avoided with food storage and dishware.  Look for BPA-free plastics or at least avoid plastic bearing the polycarbonate symbol #7 on the bottom of it.  High Density Polyethylene or Silicone are better choices. Regardless, avoid heating or microwaving food in plastic dishes.

Polystyrene and PVC: While we are on the subject of plastic, there are a couple more obvious materials that should be avoided. It’s been suggested that styrene is a possible human carcinogen, might possibly be a hormone disruptor and may leach into food or liquids. Also, polystyrene is not very recyclable and it’s been said that less than 1% of Polystyrene plastic gets recycled.  Polystyrene bears a recycle code of #6 on products.  PVC bears a #3 recycle code and should also be avoided.  PVC should never be used with food – plasticizers like hormone disrupting phthalates, and lead are a concern here.

What to look for when choosing dishware and utensils

Now that you know what not to buy, there are many safer options available that are less likely to add nasties to your food and snacks, not to mention they can be recycled or renewed.

  • BPA Free plastic: There are many safer recyclable plastic products on the market.  The recycling codes can give you a clue into which contain BPA and which don’t (Avoid #s 3,6 and 7) but it’s not always that easy to tell. To stay on the safer side, do not use plastic for hot or acidic food to limit the exposure of other chemicals from leaching into food.
  • Silicone: Silicone has become rather popular in the last few years due to its safety and durability for babies and kids. It’s soft and pliable but doesn’t use harmful plasticizers. Silicone is non-toxic, BPA, PVC & Phthalate Free.
  • Stainless Steel: This is by far one of my top choices for food.  There are dishes, utensils, food storage containers and lunch boxes made from food grade stainless steel that will not leach toxins in to your dinner.
  • Glass: Glass is always my top pick for food and food storage options. Simply put, you can eat off of it, microwave it and store anything you want in it and glass won’t leach chemicals into its contents. Parents worry about the breakability factor but tempered glass is common these days and easy to find.
  • Bamboo: Bamboo is a great option too, mainly because it’s a renewable source, it’s durable and safe for all those veggies your tot eats. Drop it on the floor? Not a problem. You never have to worry about breakages.

My top picks for safe tableware for kids

 

  • Re-Play Divided Plates & UtensilsRe-Play has been a long time favorite brand of mine. Their dish sets and accessories are made with recycled milk jugs (HDPE, a BPA free plastic).  They’re super durable and come in fun kid colors.
  • ThinkBaby Bento Box: My kids are 7 and 10 and we still use them every day. I’ve had ThinkBaby bento boxes in my kitchen since they were toddlers. Food safe materials, durable, leak-proof and reliable.  They stand the test of time.  Plus, they are super cute and stylish.  ThinkBaby has several products including bowls with lids that I love as well.
  • Avanchy Bamboo Sunction Bowl & Spoon: Made of renewable bamboo and silicone. BPA, Melamine and Lead-free so your snacks are safe (and secured to the table!) They look rather cool too!
  • Ooga Silicone Bowls and SpoonsThe perfect dish and spoon for a baby learning to eat. They come in baby-friendly colors and are made of soft silicone.
  • Eco Vessel Stainless Steel Sippy CupThese stainless steel insulated cups are great for keeping drinks cold, and they come with a silicone drink spout. Hands down the safest way to keep kids hydrated!