Sure, we’re all making strides with eating cleanly and organically as often as possible, but can we do more when it comes to how we store food and drinks? And, are there non-toxic dishes, cups, and utensils that might make our lives easier when raising little ones? The answers are yes and yes!
Let’s first talk about plastic. It’s EVERYWHERE! Take a quick moment to consider all of the ways we’re led to use plastic in our lives… cups, bowls, plates, plastic containers and lids, utensils, plastic wrap, bags and baggies, and more. The bad news is that most plastic works its way into our systems and wreaks havoc. It’s difficult to know which plastics will be harmful, but is it worth taking the gamble?
“Some types of plastic are relatively benign. However, others have properties that promote inflammation, disrupt your brain’s neurons and neurotransmitters, confuse the body’s hormones, and feed cancers, viruses, and bacteria.” – Anthony William, Medical Medium
So what are some better options that work great as an alternative? Check out some of our favorite plastic-free food storage below!
- Glass – We realize that glass is not always ideal (or perhaps allowed), but when possible, it’s definitely our top choice! (Note: If there are times that you just can’t avoid using plastic, we encourage you to do some research. Look for manufacturing information that indicates that the items are BPA-free and food grade.) Glass storage containers are also almost always dishwasher safe (but still be sure to check), which is a huge plus for any busy mom.
- Bamboo – Many companies sell cups, bowls, and plates made out of bamboo. Feel free to check out BuyGreen Bambooware to begin your search.
- Silicone – As long as you are not exposing it to high levels of heat, silicone is also another good non-plastic option.
Why Metal & Stainless Steel Containers Didn’t Make the List
It can be tricky choosing safe metal bottles and storage containers because sometimes they still contain plastic in the form of a plastic coating. This is especially true when it comes to aluminum water bottles due to the fact that aluminum is not food grade. To make matters worse, oftentimes this plastic lining contains BPA or other harmful chemicals that leech into the water, and eventually, when this layer of plastic wears away, you are left exposed to the aluminum underneath. Aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s and should definitely be avoided for these reasons. (That means aluminum foil too.)
Even some stainless steel food storage containers and bottles have been found to contain toxic levels of lead. If you still feel compelled to go with stainless steel, look for #304 or 18/8 food grade stainless steel to ensure it is safe.
Better alternatives as mentioned are silicone (if no high heat is involved) or glass food storage containers ideally, though often times glass isn’t permitted at gyms, at school, or in play parks so when choosing items for your kids, you should check with their school first.
Specifically for your beverages:
- Bottles – Lifefactory
- Cups for the little ones – iPlay Baby Green Sprouts – We like their glass and silicone bottles and cups.
- Coffee cups – Joco cups
- Water, tea, and smoothie cups – We love Mason jars! They make kid sizes with lids too! (We also like the iLIDS Mason jar lids – can be found on Amazon)
- Water bottles – XtremeGlas or Lifefactory to name a few.
- Glass straws
- You can also add silicone sleeves to your glass bottles to help make them less breakable.
- Non-toxic utensils including those made of bamboo
- Dishes made of glass or bamboo
Food storage containers:
- Food Containers – We like the Pyrex and CorningWare brands, but there are plenty of glass container companies out there.
- Bags – Throw away plastic bags are harmful to our health and the environment. As more eco-friendly, health-conscious alternatives we love Stasher and LunchSkins bags. You can also check out other storage bags made of silicone or beeswax wraps.
Want to take it one step further? Consider Anthony’s “Anti-Plastics Tea.” Blend equal parts fenugreek, mullein leaf, olive leaf, and lemon balm. Steep one tablespoon of the herb mixture per cup of hot water for tea. You can also check out “Plastic Clear” tea at Reclaim Teas!
You can find links to the items we’ve mentioned in this post, plus others on our Recommendations page.
For the littles just beginning to experiment with table food, and/or kids who require some extra assistance, I’d like to take a minute to tap into my SLP (Speech/Language Pathologist) background. Here are some tips for more successfully teaching little ones as they begin their exploration of life-giving foods and beverages.
Avoid Sippy Cups
It seems like the norm these days to go from bottle to “sippy cup”. It makes sense on a surface level…tight lid + fewer openings = fewer spills, so that much we understand.
However, we need to consider that most traditional sippy cups get in the way of our sweet babies’ development. Without getting too technical, babies swallow patterns change at around one year of age from a front-to-back / suckle-swallow pattern to one where their tongue tips go up while using a wave-like motion to swallow food and drinks. Sippy cups prolong the use of the less mature swallowing pattern, resulting in difficulties with chewing and swallowing as the kids expand their repertoires. These cups can also impact speech and language skills, as well as impact oral musculature – this could lead to breathing difficulties and a need for braces, among other issues. Most sippy cups are also typically made of plastic so that’s one more strike against them.
Consider one of the cups linked above and use of cups with straws. You can also allow your child to practice sipping from a “shot glass” sized cup. This will likely get messy as your child is first learning, so this would be a fun activity to try during bathtime, or while outside. It’s also best to teach this skill when you have plenty of time, and you’re not in a hurry. He/she will need some help with gently guiding the cup at first, but you’ll be surprised how most children are sipping on their own in no time.
Consider Developmentally Appropriate Utensils
Shorter and fatter handles are ideal for beginning learners. Once your child is successful with using these types of utensils, you can start to develop their fine motor skills by progressing to the use of short, but regular width utensils. Some of our favorites utensils can be found at ezpz.
All in all, there are SO many awesome options out there, and it’s empowering to know that we don’t have to settle for any one material, brand, or style. I encourage you to check out some of our recommendations shared above, and to challenge yourself to make your home as plastic-free as possible!
If you’d like more support with specific feeding issues and/or more ways to “clean up” your life, consider a Reclaimers of Health consult with Kimberly.