Even though you monitor your toddler's diet for harmful ingredients that impact her development, she might still be ingesting toxic substances. Several materials used to make bowls, dishes and utensils for children contain chemicals that cause a variety of health and developmental issues. Fortunately, there are several nontoxic dish and utensil options available, so you can stop worrying about exposing your toddler to harmful chemicals and focus on teaching her healthy eating habits instead.
Plastic seems like an ideal option for your toddler’s dishes and utensils since it is durable, lightweight and easy to clean. However, traditional polycarbonate plastic might transfer phthalates and bisphenol-A, or BPA, to food and liquids as your child consumes them. Phthalates and BPA are toxic chemicals linked to a variety of health issues, including cancer, immune deficiencies, reproductive issues, diabetes, obesity and hyperactivity. Look for items labeled BPA- and phthalate-free. If you are also concerned about the environmental impact of your child’s dishes and utensils, opt for items that are free of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC; its production and disposal creates toxic pollution.
Stainless steel is another nontoxic material to consider for your toddler’s dishes and utensils. It is made from a combination of iron, chromium, nickel and other metals, and it's durable and easy to clean. The metals in stainless steel could possibly leach into food, but if you make sure that your child’s dishes and utensils have no pitting or dents, the amount transferred is insignificant. Stainless-steel utensils are sharper than BPA-free plastic options, so monitor your child as she uses them.
Another nontoxic option is wood. Items made from durable wood such as cherry are natural and do not transfer toxic chemicals to your child’s food. Wooden bowls and utensils are highly durable, but they can be more difficult to clean because wood is a porous material. Look for bowls, plates and utensils made from wood that is sustainably harvested if you are concerned about deforestation issues.
An alternative to wood dishes and utensils is bamboo items. Bamboo is a woody grass plant that is as durable as wood, but is a greener option because it isn’t killed by the harvesting process and regenerates more quickly than trees. Bamboo does not contain harmful chemicals that might leach into your child’s food. Bamboo dishes and utensils are also biodegradable. They are lightweight as well, so they’re easy for your toddler to handle.
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