Although the first bento box was documented around 800 years ago in Japan, it’s a new craze for kids lunch boxes. The word bento literally means convenient, and these sectioned containers certainly live up to their name!
We’ve searched for the best bento lunch boxes for toddlers, since the varied food sections are perfect for picky little eaters. My search ended when I settled on the budget friendly and brightly colored Rubbermaid Take Alongs.
|The Best Bento Boxes for Toddlers||Why It's Best||Mom Rating|
|Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Divided-Base Storage Containers||These are inexpensive, easy to find, microwavable, and dishwasher safe.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Kotobuki Sushi Chef Bento Box Set||The cute design and 3 big sections are great for packing foods like pasta or rice.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Bentgo Kids Prints Bento-Style Kids Lunch Box||The fun prints will catch your kid's attention, and the inside has plenty of space.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|LunchBots Small Protein Packer Toddler Bento Box||This stainless steel option is small but durable and is more eco-friendly.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Boon Bento Lunch Box||The cute and stretchy snail design and carrying handle are perfect for toddlers.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Omie OmieBox Bento Box with Thermos||You can add hot soup and cold fruit to the same insulated box.||♥♥♥♥♥|
The Best Bento Boxes for Your Toddler
Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Divided Storage Containers
The Budget-Friendly Bento Container
The Rubbermiad TakeAlongs Divided Storage Containers are my favorite and the ones that I personally use on a regular basis. When I learned about bento boxes, I settled on these containers for a range of reasons.
First is availability and affordability. These boxes are available at most stores, so if one is broken, lost, or excessively dirty, the containers can easily be tossed and replaced without tears.
Next, they are dishwasher-safe. They can also be used in a microwave without melting and warping.
Finally, the containers are also freezer-friendly, which is convenient for meal preparation.
All practical considerations aside, there are a few aesthetic attributes which make these containers desirable. The containers store beautifully, as they stack nicely and the lids stack decently. This makes storage easy in my small kitchen. The containers also come in several colors so you can mix, match and blend as desired.
Since becoming a mom, these containers have proven their usefulness and are awesome. The containers should easily fit enough food and snacks for a hungry toddler and maybe even a bite for me.
Keep in Mind
Although I love these containers, there are some downsides.
On occasion, I have failed to put the lid on correctly which resulted in the lid coming off. In an at-home test, my three-year-old had some difficulty getting the lid to snap correctly on the container. Although, with practice, he could master the process.
They do not come in some of the pretty lines other bento boxes have, which make the more expensive bento boxes so desirable to children.
Kotobuki Sushi Chef Bento Box Set
The Cutest Bento Box
The Kotobuki Sushi Chef Bento Box Set is a perfect option for children who love Lego characters.
Reviewers report that the cute character boxes that young children can easily use the bento box. It has two containers, one with a lid and one without. When stacked, the top container seals off the bottom container. It also comes with a cute little soup bowl to top the whole thing off. It’s a great option for rice and vegetables!
Aesthetically, these containers are not as easily found and are costly compared to items like the Rubbermaid containers. But they are certainly unique! If you don’t like this design, there is a kitty, a geisha, or a ninja to fit your child’s style.
Keep In Mind
These boxes require a band to hold it all together, which could be easily misplaced by a forgetful toddler. Sadly, the container is only partially microwavable or dishwasher safe. Additionally, even with the recommended handwashing, the paint can come off readily.
Storing the containers may be a bit of a pain as typically a set like this is not stored dismantled and the entire box is over 5 inches tall.
The container would not work well for sandwiches, so if your child only likes cold foods, packing their favorite finger foods may not be feasible.
Bentgo Kids Prints Lunch Box
The Leakproof Bento Box
The Bentgo Kids Boxes are an awesome solution for the kids who simply must have the bento boxes.
The company reports that the boxes can be washed in the dishwasher, microwaved (for less than 3 minutes), and used in the freezer. An added benefit is that these particular Bentgo boxes are leakproof.
The boxes are made to be shorter than the regular Bentgo bento boxes, as they are 1.7 inches tall. The containers are designed to hold enough food and a lot of families attest to the convenience of these boxes.
The boxes are one piece so it would be unlikely that parts would go missing. The boxes are brightly colored, there are inexpensive replacement parts and a two-year warranty on the products.
Parts for the containers can be obtained easily. The company has paid attention to the reality that children can be hard on their belongings by making the containers extra durable.
Keep In Mind
Reviewers note that the boxes sometimes have issues with the latches. The latches either break or they can be difficult for the toddler to use. The company reports that the boxes are designed for three to seven-year-olds.
LunchBots Small Protein Packer Toddler Bento Box
The Stainless Steel Bento
There are reasons that many parents want to avoid plastic with their children. For these families, this lifetime warrantied LunchBots Small Protein Packer Toddler Bento Box might be worth a consideration, as it is entirely stainless steel.
This 4 compartment box is an excellent option if you like to pack a lot of small crackers, cookies, and trail mixes. The boxes have a removable lid and are the right size for little people. Extra or replacement lids can be purchased separately.
Keep In Mind
This box does leave some things to be desired.
First, the box is not leakproof and it is recommended that you do not serve any liquid foods from this dish so it would likely be best used for snacks.
Second is that the box has been prone to dents from children.
The box is not able to be used in the microwave and freezer.
Boon Bento Lunch Box
The Eye-Catching Bento
The Boon Bento Lunch Box has a cute snail design that your toddler will love.
This box is not huge. It measures about 8 inches square by 3 inches tall. The outside of the box has a rubber design to hold silverware or a note for your child, although silverware is not included. This stretchy design also has some give for whatever you pack inside.
Inside, there are no compartments. There is a removable container that has 2 sections and a lid. You can place this inside in different spots to create additional compartments. A small, square ice pack is also included with the box.
The outside also has a carrying handle that’s perfect for kids. Reviewers report that it’s easy to use. Their container can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
Keep in Mind
The box does leave some factors for the ideal container to be desired.
First, the container cannot be microwaved.
The silicone band could break as it is outside the box. Silverware placed in the band doesn’t lay flush, so it could be caught on surfaces. Also, since you keep the silverware on the outside of the box, it may not be ideal to use without a lunch bag.
OmieBox Bento Box with Thermos
The Bento Box for Liquids
The OmieBox Bento Box with Thermos is considered a best bento due to its thermos insert. This would make it easy to pack messier dishes that my toddler loves, like soup or mac and cheese, without worries. You can even put something cold, like yogurt, in the compartment as well. The insulated thermos bowl with lid is an insert, so it can be removed on days where a cold sandwich seems like a better option.
This box also allows you to store fruit or any other food alongside the warm dish in one of the 3 other compartments. I would not worry so much about food safety because each individual compartment is insulated. This would be important for a kid who you might not want lunch to be heated in the microwave or has no access to a fridge.
This is designed for heavy duty use, and the price certainly reflects that. Additionally, the seals can be replaced if needed. You can also purchase fun accessories, like the Omie Silverware Pod.
Keep In Mind
The box might not be the best choice for busy parents or those with a tight budget.
It must be hand-washed daily and cannot be microwaved. Reviewers note that the latches can be quite difficult to use.
The thermos container is small, but may not be enough for kids who have ravenous appetites.
All About Bento Boxes
Bento boxes are, essentially, a glorified sectioned container. Some may even have a band that holds different sections or containers together. The main difference between the boxes labeled as bento boxes and sectioned containers is the price. Many kids bento lunch boxes cannot be washed in the dishwasher, used in the microwave, or frozen.
Since these are part of the current lunch room trend, other kid’s boxes may make your kid beg you for a bento box rather than a sectioned container. As they are popular, your kid may be in a class of kids who demand the boxes to fit in.
According to National Geographic, Japanese mothers have been packing their children’s bento boxes for years and making all those cute rice bears. This results in a competition that, in some cases, seems even extreme.
Bento boxes are a current fad and, like other trends, you can expect it will die down over time.
Typically, I do not like to follow trends; however, I was tired of my sandwiches getting wet from toppings and wanted to pack pasta and a salad in a sufficiently sized container. And since prepared meals are a must when there are very busy days, a bento box was the best solution, both for me and my kids.
I’ve reviewed the bento boxes that I have considered and/or used; however, there are a lot of other boxes out there. Knowing what kind of foods will be packed for your toddler and the tendencies of your child are key to determining which is the best bento box for your toddler.
Also, how you plan to use and care for the box is a factor that is often overlooked. I don’t have time for a dish that can’t be washed in the dishwasher. The microwave is used too often in heating food, so that’s a must, too.
Storage is also another consideration. Most of the boxes do not store nested, they would need to be stacked on top of each other.
The cost of the boxes ranges from a few dollars to around $40 for a box. The more expensive boxes may have some helpful benefits. The price does not mean that the items have corresponding basic flexibility in use that the cheaper sectioned containers have.
Once you have made your purchase, you may just be looking to use those sectioned boxes for yourself!