You don’t know the meaning of a long lunch until you’ve eaten with a toddler. Inevitably, their favorite snack yesterday is their most loathed enemy today, and don’t even think about letting any of the foods on their plate come close to touching each other unless you’re prepared to deal with a meltdown of epic proportions. The saga doesn’t end once your kids go to daycare or school either, because then you have to strategically pack a lunch, and just hope for the best. (But then again, with many kids staying home this term due to COVID-19 restrictions, odds are you’ll be prepping and eating lunches at home with your little ones anyway.)
Half the battle of getting your tots to eat their lunch is to prep it properly, and choosing the right lunch box is key. It needs to be easy to open and close, be sturdy, keep food fresh, and, for your sanity, be cleanable without a ton of effort. Whether your kid wants something a little fun, or a container that keeps all their food groups separated, here are 13 of the best toddler lunch boxes to make mealtime a little easier for them (and you).
Best lunch boxes for kids and toddlers:
Equal parts cute and functional, this pretty-in-pink bento lunch box (also comes in mint and beige) is incredibly compact. No matter how the school year pans out, you can rest easy knowing that your LO won’t have to lug around a ginormous lunch container bigger than them. Did we mention that this bad boy is a space-saver? Oh yeah. It contains multiple layers (a compartment container and a bottom container) to help keep different foods separated. Because it’s both microwave and dishwasher safe, food prep and clean-up will be a breeze this year as you WFH with your kid(s). One mom shares, “Exactly what I was looking for! Easy for my 5 year old to open on her own and perfect for her lunches! The silverware is also a nice bonus and sturdy. I use plastic reusable cups to keep the food separate. Super happy with our purchase!”
This drop-proof BPA-free bento box has rubber coated edges and five compartments for food — your toddler is bound to eat at least one of the things you pack. The compartment tray is also removable for easy cleaning and the latches are easy to open and close for little hands.
Lightweight with an easy to open and close latch, the Yumbox bento box has five 1/2 cup compartments so even the pickiest toddler can have a variety of foods for lunch. The removable tray is easy to rinse off as well.
This lunch box has a removable thermos insert, so in addition to their regular foods, you can also pack a warm lunch for your little one. While the thermos is leakproof, we can’t promise it will prevent your kid from making a mess at lunch.
If you’re looking for a non-plastic option, try a stainless steel lunch box. The LunchBots small bento box is ideal for packing toddler-sized portions of four different snacks. It’s not leakproof, but it’s dishwasher safe and super durable.
Simple and functional, EasyLunchboxes come in a set of four BPA-free, easy-to-open containers. The boxes each have three compartments and are stackable and microwavable.
Mix and match these containers that snap to reusable freezer packs and to each other. The kit comes with two snack containers, one side container, one sandwich container, and one blue ice.
A lightweight, stretchy neoprene lunch tote is easy to carry for little tots. And best of all, once it gets dirty (and it will get dirty), you can toss it into the wash with the rest of your laundry.
Best insulated lunch boxes for kids:
Is it just us or is life more FUN with a bento box to keep your child’s lunch neatly insulated until they’re ready to eat it?! While some toddlers may still be going to daycare, many will likely be eating lunch at home this fall. In this case, you can whip something scrumptious up in the a.m. and then stick the entire bento lunch box in the refrigerator until it’s time to eat. Lunch prep has never been so easy! With five compartments, the leakproof containers will allow for more lunchtime variety—try fruit in one compartment and a PB&J sandwich in another to ensure that they’re getting their daily dose of nutrients. Says one mama, “We use these every day, even in quarantine! The toddlers (3 and 2 years) seem to eat better when their food is portioned and distributed in these containers. We alternate using just the main container and the closed contains when food needs to be sealed. Very impressed. They wash well in the dishwasher, and haven’t gotten any food melt-age, rings, or permanent smells. I think I’m going to have to buy myself one when I have to travel for work again.”
Send your tot to school with a lunchtime friend. These adorable animal lunch bags (comes in narwhal, dinosaur, dragon unicorn, and more) are insulated to keep food and drinks cool, and the top handle can clip on to any backpack for safekeeping.
If you’re lucky enough to have a child that only requires one main course for lunch, a food jar will do the trick. This double walled stainless steel container will keep food warm for up to five hours. The lid has a rubber grip and a there’s a wide opening to make it easier for kids to use.
Wildkin’s insulated lunch bags come in a variety of colorful patterns and are spacious enough to fit lunch and a snack or two. There’s a convenient top carry handle and the fabric is both durable and easy to clean.
Your toddler will be more than excited to bring their lunch to school in a Paw Patrol or Frozen-themed soft lunch box. The box is insulated and has padded carrying handles, and there are numerous screen printed graphics to choose from.
Need more things for your little ones? Check out top kids gear picks here.