One of the more reassuring things as a new dad is knowing there are plenty of other parents out there who you can turn to with questions. Guys whose toddlers may be a little older and who’ve already been there and done that. And while, sure, not all parenting advice is worth following, nowhere is a little advanced parental scouting more helpful than with baby gear. Nobody wants to spend their hard-earned dollars on baby bottles that leak or baby strollers that veer left. Seasoned dads have the benefit of in-the-trenches trial and error ⏤ they’ve already spent the cash to find out what’s great and what’s not.
That’s why we’ve been reaching out to real, regular dads to find out what gear helps them get by. We recently published a piece about baby gear dads can’t live without. This time, we focused on toddler feeding essentials. We asked a variety of fathers what piece of gear they’ve found that’s made feeding a toddler more manageable — and mealtime less of a mess. Here are the eight products they think every family should own.
BabyBjorn Soft Bib
“We really like the BabyBjorn Soft Bib. It actually catches the food our daughter drops, which helps keep at least some of it off the floor for a second meal. It’s also very easy to travel with — we take it to restaurants, and it’s on our don’t-forget vacation list.”
— Rick Frost, father of one with one on the way, Melrose, MA
“While I believe in exposing my kids to germs, I’ve worked in restaurants — you don’t want your kid’s stuff on the floor. Especially their sippy or snack cups. The Boogin was great for both convenience and hygiene. With it, the cup is always right there attached to your stroller.” — Andrew Elam, father of twin girls, Iowa
Sassybaby Grow Up Cup
“I love these things because they help kids learn to drink from regular cups without the risk (guarantee?) that they’ll pour the contents everywhere. The motion is the same as drinking from an ordinary cup, but the special built-in valve around the rim prevents spills. They’re extremely easy to clean — the lid unscrews and the rubber valve pops off — and they can either be hand washed or thrown in the dishwasher.” — Andrew Behlmann, father of three, New Jersey
“This thing is great because it holds the snacks in, even while little hands go in and out. The only problem we’ve had is that our dog destroyed the first two trying to get to the snacks — we’re on number three now.” — Pablo Påster, father of two, Novato, CA
Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack
“This drying rack elevates the bottles above a tray and allows for sufficient air flow and dripping. So drying is easy. And no matter the bottle size —the nipples, the rings, everything — it holds it all. And it works. We found ourselves drying sippie cups in the rack once our youngest daughter graduated to those. Dare I say that wine glasses found their way in? Tongs? Measuring cups? The list goes on. And this thing cleans up in the dishwasher well. Truly, it was a value, and we’ve recommended it to many friends and family members.”— Anthony M Greenburg, father of three, Lansing, MI
Munchkin Stay-Put Suction Bowls
“Toddlers can be pretty arm-swingy when you’re feeding them. These bowls are BPA-free and have a big fat suction cup on the bottom that secures them to the table so they stay in place. Of course, they don’t prevent all the mess, but they have helped us avoid a lot of spills. Plus, they’re dishwasher safe which is always nice.” — Kevin, father of two, Dallas
NeverKink Kink Free Vinyl Hose
“Rather than worry about preventing messes while they eat, I prefer to take the kids outside and just spray them down with a high-quality water hose. Quick cleaning — and it doubles as “play time.” — Ryan Boone, father of two, Hillsboro, OR