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The Best Bibs for Babies

By Hannah Crowley Published

Babies are messy. The right bib can make them less so. Choose wisely and make your life easier.

Sometimes I look at my baby in her high chair and the surrounding area and think, I can’t do it. I cannot clean up one more time today. There are tons of bibs out there that promise to make feeding tidier—do any of them work? I’ve been rating kitchen gear for a decade, so as a new mother I turned my testing eye and deep passion for avoiding cleaning toward bibs.

I eliminated plain fabric bibs from the jump. They’re great for catching liquids such as breast milk, formula, spit-up, and drool, but they’re not as good for catching solid foods. Modern bibs have improved on the classic design for feeding. To find the best bib for meals, I zeroed in on nine made from plastic, vinyl, silicone, neoprene, and/or waterproof fabric. I used them while feeding my little one over a period of several months and also sent copies home with 12 different testers to use with their kiddos for a month.

Babies are messy. Especially when eating. We tested bibs in all different styles to see if any helped us cut down on cleanup.

We had 13 little testers (ages 4 months to two years) use the bibs at home over the course of a month.

Do Bibs Actually Keep Things Cleaner?

Get this—the right bib CAN reduce the amount of cleaning you have to do. But choose wisely! Don’t bother with the neoprene or coated fabric bibs that fasten around the neck and have flat pockets on the front. While they provide some protection for the child’s chest, that’s all they do. Plus, the flat pockets were not all that effective at catching falling food. Because we couldn't see inside the pockets at a glance, it was easy to forget about the food that did get caught in there and get a gross surprise the next time we used the bib.

Catching Trays Are Key

We liked bibs with three-dimensional catching trays best. Because the trays stuck out, they caught more falling food than flat pockets did, keeping the surrounding area clean(er). What they caught was visible and didn’t get squished, so we could scoop out the food and serve it again—no more wasting as much of those pricey fresh raspberries or little sweet potato cakes that you finally got up the energy to make from scratch.

Our biggest takeaway: We preferred bibs with three dimensional catching trays verses those that sit flat against the chest. The former caught more food, keeping things tidier.

Full-Coverage Bibs Work Well in Certain Situations

Two bibs we tested covered more than the chest. Both had full sleeves, and one also had a skirt that covered the gap between the baby and the high chair tray. The skirted model was too large for our tiniest tester, who was 4 months old, and it didn’t fit on every high chair, but when it worked, it kept our floors cleaner than any other bib. If something ended up on the floor when my baby was wearing this bib, it was because she chucked it there—and short of spoon-feeding her in a straitjacket like Hannibal Lecter, I haven't found a way to prevent that. These two full-coverage bibs required more cooperation from our little charges, as we had to thread their arms through the sleeves like a backward cardigan. One toddler saw his mother approaching with one of these bibs and flatly refused to cooperate.

We tested two full coverage options. One looked like an art smock, the other covered the kiddo's upper body and the space between the child and the chair. They were both more complicated to use but they did keep things notably cleaner.

The full-coverage bibs are bigger than regular bibs, so we needed to find a spacious place to drape them while they were drying, and they didn’t dry as quickly. Most folks probably won’t be using this style for every meal. I tended to reach for these when my baby was fully dressed and I didn’t want to have to change her again or if I had just mopped the floor and was feeling precious about it.

 

The BIBaDO Baby Feeding Coverall was the most protective option we tested. It wouldn't be our every day bib but is great if you really want to minimize clean up. 

Cleaning Baby Bibs

The rest of the bibs were smaller and could be hung less obtrusively to dry after cleaning, but their drying speeds were factors here, too. With the silicone and plastic versions, we could just wash, blot, and reuse them immediately. Bibs made from coated fabric or neoprene took longer to dry, and sometimes the time between meals (3 to 4 hours) wasn’t long enough for them to get completely dry. Even if we washed them in a timely fashion, we were still using a wet bib. We particularly liked one bib that was made from a combination of materials—a soft fabric top for comfort and a silicone tray for catching falling food; the top took longer to dry when it got completely wet (versus just spot-cleaned), but we appreciated the thoughtful design that balanced both comfort and cleanliness. One all-plastic bib was a bit uncomfortable for some kiddos.

Adjustability for Longevity and Protection

Lastly, we preferred bibs that adjusted to a range of sizes. This is helpful because the bib grows with the baby, so it will stay useful for longer. Also, ones with only one sizing option sometimes hung lower than the baby’s shirt, so the top of the shirt got dirty. We preferred options that we could tighten up for maximum coverage and loosen as the baby grows.

Here's my baby Lula in our overall winner, the OXO Tot Roll-Up Bib. The soft fabric top was comfortable and adjustable to a range of sizes. The broad three-dimensional tray did a great job of catching falling food. After living with tons of bibs over several months I honed my arsenal to this bib and a quick-drying all-plastic option in case I forget to wash the Oxo in time for the next meal.

The Best Baby Bib: The OXO Tot Roll-Up Bib

Overall, choosing a bib with a quick-drying, three-dimensional catching tray is the most important factor. We particularly liked one bib. The OXO Tot Roll-Up Bib has a few special features that make it especially comfortable and usable. It has a fabric top and a silicone bottom. The top was nice and soft around the baby’s neck and could be adjusted to a wide range of sizes. The silicone catching tray was broad and effective. Overall, the bib dried reasonably fast; often only the catching tray was dirty, so we could just wipe that clean and use the bib again immediately if we needed to. This bib also rolls up tidily for storage or travel. It won’t eliminate the need for cleaning up after feeding your kiddo, but it does help keep things tidier.

Equipment Review Baby Bibs

Babies are messy. The right bib can make them less so. Choose wisely and make your life easier.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.