My 16-month-old daughter eyes me warily as I open the mysterious box that has just arrived and pull out a strange bowl that looks nothing like any of her bowls. As I begin to remove the CaliBowl Kids Suction Bowl from its packaging, I sympathize with my little girl’s skepticism. Can a bowl really “eliminate the frustration of self-feeding and messy spills” as the product claims? However, with two toddlers and lots of uh-oh’s, I have a sense of hopeful optimism and look forward to seeing if it’s up to the challenge.
Within seconds of freeing the bowl, my 16-month-old son grabs it and races into the other room. His twin sister is in hot pursuit with the lid. “Ah well,” I think to myself as the giggling over the new toy begins, “if nothing else at least they enjoy playing with it!”
The Kids Suction Bowl, like the other CaliBowls, was produced by Simple Wave LLC with a patent-pending no-spill lip. The lip of these bowls was modeled after the tide of a wave, pushing food back onto the utensil. The original concept was conceived 20 years ago by construction worker and surfer dad Jeff Bollengier while surfing in Baja Mexico. The Kids Suction Bowl ($14.14 MSRP) is made from BPA-free polypropylene plastic, has a non-slip suction foot and is dishwasher safe. Some of the other bowls are available in both ceramic and plastic.
Once I round up my little product testers, we spend the next few days comparing the new bowl to our other ones, both suction and regular. After having each child use the bowl for several meals, here is what we discovered:
The 1.5 cup bowl is the perfect size for toddlers and the lid makes it easy to store leftovers. Both kids found the wide, shallow bowl easy to remove food from. The suction foot held up brilliantly to a great amount of biting and chewing by my teething tots. However, if you are looking for a suction foot that stays stuck, this is not it. The first time I set my daughter down in front of it, she pulled it up in 3 seconds and then four more times over the course of the meal. The bowl is hard to tip over if knocked from the side, thus the advertising of a “non-slip” suction foot.
My twin testers are still at the early stages of self-feeding; they can get food-to-mouth and spoon-to-mouth but are still working on the concept of food-on-spoon-to-mouth. Although I could not find a suggested age on this product, my kids (16 months) may be a bit younger than the optimal users of these bowls. At the end of the feedings it didn’t seem to make much, if any, different when comparing messes. It seemed to help a little with larger-piece food like mac ’n’ cheese, but I found it to be more difficult to scrape oatmeal from the sides of this bowl than from others. Overall I am still undecided on the no-spill lip, but then I do not find food spilling over the side to be a major problem in our house.
Honestly, I find the company’s mission more impressive than the product we tested. According to press materials “Simple Wave [LLC] and, by extension, CaliBowl are committed to enhancing the long-term sustainability of our planet by developing a framework for helping to preserve the environment.” With a Zero Landfill Policy, they have a “Recycle-a-Bowl” program that offers consumers a 20% discount of subsequent orders when they return a used CaliBowl at the end of its life. In addition, the company donates CaliBowls to Shriners Hospitals internationally though their “Charit-a-Bowl” program.
My son loves the new bowl, or seems to as he insists on putting it on his head every time he empties it. I like the Kids bowl well enough, but the bottom line is because of the price and lack of grip on the part of the suction I am more likely to consider the other offerings in the CaliBowl line in the future. I must admit, as a California girl who is far from home, some of the set names (Del Mar, La Jolla, Santa Barbara) make me a bit nostalgic. At least my kids have fun new toy that I am also willing to let them eat from; none of their other toys can make that claim!
This suction bowl was tested on Fisher Price Rainforest highchair trays. Results may vary by surface.
For more information about the company and products, go to www.calibowl.com.