Choosing the right lunch box is the key to keeping your child nourished and energetic throughout the day. Whether you’re looking for a cooler bag that keeps meals cool or a multi-compartment food container, the best toddler lunch boxes are made with materials that can withstand rough handling and are easy to clean. They’re also great for containing leaks when those inevitable spills occur.
The term “lunch box” can refer to two types of products: insulated lunch boxes or bags and non-insulated food containers. An insulated lunch bag will help your child’s meal stay warm or cool for longer periods of time, and it may or may not come with smaller food or drink containers to fit in. On the flip side, uninsulated food containers (think bento style containers) tend to be more compact and are generally designed to hold food but not necessarily to maintain the desired temperature. However, some of these uninsulated containers can be easily microwaved or paired with an extra ice pack to help keep meals cold for hours.
When shopping, think about the size and design features that would be most helpful for your family. If you need a preschool or daycare lunch box, consider one that can easily fit in a backpack. On the flip side, the larger insulated lunch boxes are ideal for family trips to the zoo, park, and anywhere refrigeration isn’t possible. Some lunch boxes even include removable shoulder straps to make them more convenient to carry.
Finally, consider how resistant the lunch box is to leaks and rough handling. Toddlers can be quite active – and, let’s face it, uncoordinated – which means you’ll need a lunchbox that can withstand frequent spills and sometimes get thrown on the floor. When shopping for a fabric lunch box, opt for ones that you can wipe down or machine wash. If you prefer a hard-sided lunch box, look for one made with dishwasher-safe materials for easy cleanup.
Scroll down to see which lunchbox is right for your little one. These styles are all endorsed by Amazon buyers who are parents as well.
1. Fan favorite bento style lunch box
With over 23,000 Amazon reviews and an overall score of 4.7 stars, this popular bento-style lunch box is a winner with kids and parents alike. The BPA-free plastic container is available in a range of prints to appeal to different interests and tastes, including rockets, puppies, and tropical scenes. Parents appreciated that it was waterproof and durable. The outer edges have a rubber coating that helps protect it in the event of a fall, and two latches on the outer shell keep everything securely inside.
The interior of the lunch box includes a removable food tray that can be safely heated in the microwave and tossed in the top rack of a dishwasher. It has five different compartments that make it easy to distribute snacks, sandwiches, fruit and more. This option lacks insulation and there is no designated location for an ice pack, but you can easily pair it with a matching cooler bag that has the extra space to add one.
- Size: 8.5 x 6.5 x 2 inches
- Available models: 17
Promising Amazon review: “It’s a perfect lunch box for toddlers. Spill-proof and durable. I don’t have to worry about my daughter losing tops due to tupperware! “
2. A multi-tiered stainless steel lunch box
This stainless steel bento box features two stackable compartments large enough to hold an entire sandwich, plus snacks and other goodies to accompany. There’s even an extra mini pod that doubles as a container you can fill with yogurt or sauces. Just make sure to keep messy items in the upper tier, as this compartment is reinforced with a waterproof silicone cover.
In addition to its ability to accommodate larger foods, this design is made of quality stainless steel that can easily be washed in the dishwasher (minus the silicone top). One downside is that this box is not insulated or microwave safe, so it’s best to pair it with a cooler bag that can hold an ice pack or use it for food that can be stored at room temperature. . There are also mixed reviews on how easy it is to open for the little ones, but one reviewer wrote: “I did this for my 3.5 year old son to take him to kindergarten. At first I was worried that it would be difficult for him to open, but he is doing fine.
- Size: 7.3 x 3.8 x 5.5 inches
- Available models: 2
Promising Amazon review: “I prepare lunches and snacks for my 1 year old 4 times a week and searched for the perfect stainless steel box for the transition. This is the best thing I could have invested in. Open spaces allow versatility in food size. The compact size is ideal for storing in backpacks or diaper bags and is also suitable for small portable coolers. It is easy to clean and looks very well done.
3. This insulated animal themed lunch box
If your little one loves to go to the zoo and is madly fascinated by animals, this insulated lunch box from Skip Hop is perfect. It features a spacious interior big enough to hold a small thermos or water bottle, and it has a mesh pocket inside for storing utensils, lunch money, or even an ice pack. The zipper for the monkey design even comes with a fun, banana-shaped handle that’s “easy to use.” [a] toddler to shoot, ”noted one reviewer. And the other animal designs have equally fun and theme-appropriate sweaters – for example, the narwhal backpack is accented with a clam sweater, the butterfly with a flower, and the dog with a bone. You can also find dinosaur, unicorn, llama, and fox backpacks.
Reviewers have described the soft-sided bag as being made of a “canvas-like” material that is “easy to clean” and “strong and durable”. One reviewer also confirmed that it “insulates well and does not leak”, and another wrote that it can keep “lunch cool for at least 4 hours”. While this lunch bag is a great option for keeping meals cool, you’ll need to get individual food containers separately.
- Size: 9 x 3.3 x 7.5 inches
- Colors and designs available: 8
Promising Amazon review: “Perfect for carrying a few snacks and a cup for my little one.” It keeps everything cool and the design is absolutely adorable!
4. An assorted 5-piece value set for toddler’s breakfasts
Here’s a lunch box value set that contains everything your child needs for kindergarten or daycare lunch: an insulated lunch bag, a bento box, a 16 oz water bottle , an ice pack and a spoon. The bento box has a rubber gasket to protect it from accidental drops and a leak-resistant silicone lid. It also has an outer shell and microwave and dishwasher safe insert with different compartments to hold food. The outer shell of the bento box and the stain resistant fabric lunch bag should be hand washed, but the water bottle is safe to wash in the top rack of a dishwasher.
- Insulated Lunch Bag Size: 10 x 8 x 3.3 inch
- Colors and designs available: 6
Promising Amazon review: “Perfect for making lunch for my little one.” We have had them for a few weeks now and use them daily. We wash by hand and the seals hold very well which has not been the case with other brands.
5. A set of stackable microwave safe bento boxes
These stackable bento boxes are not only good for keeping food separate, but they are also microwave and dishwasher safe. This set comes with four separate compartments (although you can also hang a version with just three compartments) that lock together, and it even features airtight lids to prevent liquids from spilling out. In addition, the lunch box comes with a set of utensils (a fork and a spoon) that fit securely inside the lid.
Reheating hot food in the microwave is a snap with this option – simply separate the compartments that need to be reheated and microwave them as needed. However, this lunch box is not insulated, so try pairing it with an ice pack in a separate bag to keep food cool.
- Size: 6.2 x 4.6 x 5.7 inches
- Colors and designs available: 5
Promising Amazon review: “This little lunchbox was perfect for our toddlers’ lunches. It is so easy to portion and separate the meal. It eliminates all the waste associated with plastic bags and is very easy to clean.
6. A machine washable neoprene insulated lunch box
This lunch bag is one of the bigger options on this list, but it features heavyweight, stain resistant, machine washable neoprene fabric and a zipper closure. The maker says the bag can keep food hot or cold for up to four hours and one reviewer said, “I add a bag of ice in the morning and it keeps things safe until it’s time. breakfast.”
Critics have also attested that this lunchbox contains spills, with a writing, “The fabric is light and does not weigh down. [my three-year-old’s] backpack. The best part is that the fabric is waterproof. It folds up easily when not in use, saving valuable cabinet space, and comes with a detachable shoulder strap, which can be useful for adults to take day trips with. their little one.
This option does not come with any food container, but you can easily add one (or more) separately. Choose from a fun dinosaur print or other kid-friendly options like astronauts and unicorns.
- Size: 12.6 x 6.3 x 12.2 inches
- Colors and designs available: 10
Promising Amazon review: “Easy to clean, fun and robust design. A little bigger than needed for a kids lunch bag, but it works well for my toddler. I can put a water bottle, bowl, utensils, snacks, and lunch container in this bag.
Also awesome: these ice packs for toddler’s lunchboxes
If you’re looking to keep your little one’s lunch cool, a set of thin ice packs can do the trick. BPA-free plastic ice packs are only 0.25 inches thick, which means they won’t take up much space in a lunch box. These penguin-shaped ice packs are popular with young children, according to Amazon buyers – and they’re also available in butterfly and owl shapes – but there’s also a rectangular set if you prefer a more traditional version.
- Size: 4.75 x 3.15 x 0.25 inches
Promising Amazon review: “[These] the ice packs are super cute. My toddler loves them in his lunch bag. Colorful penguins for victory! “