Not all bibs are created equal. Just like children. I would know, I have two. Children, that is. I have as many bibs as I have broken sippy cups, mismatched infant socks, and rejected teethers. I have tried many models in search of the right bib: thin ones, fat ones, roll-able ones, and the one that became my red wine bib.
When infants are in the high-chair stage, the forecast is: hurricane cottage cheese imminent. The bib that we found most effective at keeping the baby clean and catching food before it hit the floor was the OXO Tot Roll-Up Bib(available at Amazon for $14.99)
A great bib can be the difference between 1 and 20 outfits a day. I was eager to find something that could salvage food and liquid before it hits the floor, keep my baby clean, fit seamlessly into my diaper bag, and be easier than stripping him naked for every meal. I’m happy to report that I found a cover that passed the gauntlet laid by my wee food wolf, with flying colors.
Here are the best bibs for babies and toddlers we tested ranked, in order.
OXO Tot Roll-Up Bib
Skip-Hop Fold and Go Silicone Bib
Happy Healthy Parent Silicone Bib
Tommee Tippee Easy Roll-Up Bib
BabyBjorn Soft Bib
Baby to Love Waterproof Smock
Bumkins Sleeved Bib
Green Sprouts Stay Dry Bib
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When it comes to baby gear, function is important, but ultimately it needs to feel effortless whether or not it is a waterproof bib or made of organic cotton. You want to throw the bib on and know that it will protect your baby’s outfit without going through an ordeal. If it feels like a raincoat or is too challenging to clean up, you’re not going to use it. Luckily, we found an uncomplicated, sleek, option in the OXO Tot Roll-Up Bib, which we was our top pick. This simple piece of coverage magic is versatile, light-weight, super soft, and aesthetically pleasing. The wide, food-safe pocket was a reliable catcher and wasn’t too stiff or uncomfortable. The pocket also wasn’t too flat which proved ineffective in other models.
The OXO Tot Roll-Up Bib always felt like a convenient solution to an everyday problem. My extremely strong baby was unable get out of the secure velcro closure, which was important. In addition, the velcro was easy to adjust and close quickly. My little guy loved this bib, looked cute in it, and never got food on his clothes. It is convenient to bring on the go for a picnic. We really enjoyed the tuck-and-roll feature, which is easy to use. It is also something I used plenty, often tucking it into my purse for restaurant use.
I'm not alone in my love for the OXO Tot Roll-Up Bib either. TJ Donegan, our intrepid Executive Editor of Core Content, swears by these bibs for his two kids as well. In his experience they last a long time—over three years—and the darker colors are especially impervious to staining.
Best of all was the ease of cleanup. With this model, which is machine washable, all it needed was a quick rinse. It is safe to use with no BPA or PVC issues and ultimately was one of those pieces that you want to keep around for multiple events, including use as a drool bib. It is durable enough that I can imagine using it for my next child. Overall, it was just a well-constructed piece that out tested the other models.
Sometimes a simple bib just isn’t going to cover it—sometimes you just need a raincoat. For the sauciest spaghetti nights, or teaching your baby to finger paint, we like the Baby to Love Waterproof Smock. With stylish stripe options and adjustable wrist openings, this smock can block pretty much everything.
It is a challenge to put it on because it is not a standard neck closure, but we found it to be the easiest of all the smocks. You won’t want to use this if you have limited time, but its unique full-coverage back protection guarantees you won’t get food on your baby. It also feels like the kind of piece you might use for any messy activity, such as planting flowers. It was not as comfortable as a standard bib but was roomy, which helped. If you have the budget for a few bib options, I would consider this for the messiest occasions.
Good for extra messy activities
Time consuming to use
How We Tested Bibs for Babies and Toddlers
Hi, I'm Susie Mendoza. As a freelance writer, I have written for multiple parenting sites including: Ravishly, Mom.Me, The Pregnant Chicken, and more. In most cases, necessity has driven me to explore the parenting realm to find solutions for my two boys, aged 1 and 5 years. I have been in the trenches, cleaning up messes and coming to the realization that I’m never going use that $500 jogging stroller. It’s not that I don’t enjoy jogging to a soundtrack of human baby screaming, it’s just that I now have drawstring pants. Or both. Regardless, my reviews are informed by my mom lifestyle. I have a vested interest in finding solutions to parenting issues, including something to replace that Baby Shark song forever.
There is so much trial and error that goes into finding the perfect product for each child. And rarely does each child mesh with the same thing. My first child was a delicate eater and barely needed a bib. My second is the human equivalent of an octopus sprinkler. Naturally, I enlisted him to help me test bibs. In the search for the perfect bib, I found that the most important factors were: coverage and ease of use.
We spent three weeks testing lots of bibs for a variety of important factors. A few new factors even popped up after adding the baby variable, such as his ability to Houdini out of the bib. If you can’t even keep the kid in the bib, then the whole establishment goes down. We tested the latch function—was it easy to take on and off? What if you had to do it in a hurry? Could you adjust it easily or was it just one size, take it or leave it? I watched for signs of discomfort. If my baby was constantly tugging or trying to get out, I made a note of it.
Part of the ease of use is the cleanup. Is this a product I can just throw in the washing machine, or is it something that has extra-hard-to-clean crevices? We tested for these variables as well as just general workability of the bib. We tested the overall durability by using them for multiple meals with a very strong baby who bent and pulled each one. Finally, we tested each bib for its effectiveness against staining agents and blocking/absorbing messes. By testing on a real baby, the true ability to provide coverage was revealed.
What to Consider When Buying a Bib
If your baby can get out of the bib then it defeats the purpose. When I was testing different latches, I found that some Velcro is great for me, but not great for restraint. My tiny guy is the type of baby to try and get out of his onesie (or bandana bib), so if you have a baby that is agreeable to things like hats, it may not be an issue. The most impenetrable latches were the string ties. The happy medium ended up being the button-and-hole types that were easy enough for me, but not so easy that the baby can do it. Some were too easy like the Happy Healthy Parent bib, which otherwise would be a contender for best overall. The Velcro in the OXO Tot stayed put.
You might want more than one bib. When testing, I found that I wanted three to five bibs, just so that I didn’t have to clean them every time. I preferred a clean one for each meal, and to just wash them all together at night. I also realized that I wanted a couple different kinds for different purposes. The smocks, while hard to clean, provided the most coverage. I wanted to have at least one on hand for extra messy meals. They also double as the perfect cover for finger painting. I also found that there were some meals that I didn’t mind picking up off the floor, but other carefully prepared meals that I wanted to recycle. For this, I would opt to purchase one of the stiffer, deep billed, versions to supplement.
Be on the safe side when it comes to harmful chemical exposure. While we don’t know everything about the effects of certain chemicals, The US Consumer Product Safety Commission voted in 2013 to ban five kinds of phthalates in children’s products. Although phthalates can be found in multiple products as they make plastic more flexible, there is some evidence that exposure to young children can be potentially harmful. These, along with BPA, Lead, and PVC, have been deemed risky, so why not just stay on the safe side when choosing a bib for your baby?
The shape is important. When testing for which bibs kept food away from my baby’s clothes, I noticed that certain shapes were better. If there was even an inch of fabric in the spray zone, my tiny Shamu would find it. It is important for the edges to either go to the edge of their body or past their shoulders. Cut out shapes, while cute, only served as a landing pad for rogue strawberry pulp. With each wardrobe change, the mountain of laundry grows. Do your best to find a shield that covers.
Do you want to recycle the food or just block it from clothes? As we tested, we discovered that the bigger and more structured the pouch at the bottom was, the more food could be captured. This food could, in turn, be recycled back onto the tray for my unsuspecting infant. At this stage, much of the food goes to waste, so it’s important to get a good “catcher”.
Other Bibs We Tested
Skip Hop Zoo Fold & Go Silicone Bib
One of our other favorite bibs was the Skip Hop. The adorable puppy, bear, and bumblebee characters on the front made it personable to my infant. The ears on the bib are strategically placed to catch extra food spray. It was also very soft to the touch, which was appealing. The pliable bibs are also phthalate and BPA free. I found the latch on this model to remain steadfast under duress. Cleanup was an easy wipe down and it could also be thrown in the wash. While the fold-and-go feature was great, the standout feature on this one is its silkiness and comfort. The pocket is not as deep as the OXO, and doesn’t catch quite as much food. I would recommend this one as a second option.
This bib was a definite contender for best overall. The cheerful bib is made of extremely soft materials and very conforming to my baby’s shape. The crumb catcher was big enough to work, but not an uncomfortable obstruction. It wipes clean and has an overall aesthetic appeal. My only concern was that the latch, which was wonderfully easy, didn’t hold. It’s possible that this was unique to my experience. I would get this as a second option and see if it holds. It is a great bib, otherwise.
This bib had one of the best crumb catchers and rolled up well for travel. It was easy to clean and dried immediately. The reason it wasn’t my favorite, overall was that the stiffness of the shape didn’t conform to my baby’s body quite as well as some of the others. As a result, a few stains would end up on clean onesies at many meals. It’s a pretty sturdy and functional product, just not my favorite.
The best part of this model is the deep spill pocket. Although it was a bit of an encumbrance, it did a great job catching spills. The overall experience was fine, I just found it to be a bit stiff and uncomfortable for my baby. He didn’t care for the structure and would take it off and pull at it. There are better options for comprehensive coverage.
What was practical about these plastic protectors was that they are so lightweight. One can imagine rolling up two or three to take on a vacation. The clasp is also very struggle-free, with an adjustable hook-and-loop closure that my infant liked. Where this bib suffers is in the stain department. Although it is made from stain resistant fabric, it was no match for spaghetti. The resulting crimson was unpleasant to look at, although somewhat muted. If staining isn’t a dealbreaker for you, this bib is very low-maintenance and chic. However, if you don’t want any evidence of your last meal, then I would choose one of the stain-free options.
While I love Chevron as much as the next person, it really wasn’t important on a bib to me. What was important was that this durable sleeved bib, was excellent for coverage. The back closure was secure and the addition of a pocket afforded my hard-cooked meals a second chance. When comparing to the Baby to Love smock, however, my infant was more comfortable in the former. This model was harder to put on and much harder to clean. You would have to machine wash every time, which is time I can’t afford to spend.
I love the simplicity of these sweet, terry cloth, bibs. Ideally, I’d never put something plastic or remotely uncomfortable on my baby's neck. However, the simplicity falls short of the coverage of other models. If you are still in the spoon-fed stage, these are an adorable option. If you have moved onto independent food throwing, you’re going to need more coverage.
Susie Mendoza is a freelance writer, spinning stories, diapers, and mugs of now lukewarm coffee from her home in Burbank. Her work can be seen on McSweeney's, Ravishly.com, Mom.me, The Pregnant Chicken, UpWorthy, and more. She also produces female-centric film and television projects from her production company, Pretty Pink Pictures.
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