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Baby Bibs

Published February 2021

How we tested

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

Methodology

  • Test nine bibs made from plastic, vinyl, silicone, neoprene, and/or waterproof fabric, priced from about $1.50 to about $20.00 each
  • Use the bibs while feeding 13 babies over the course of a month
  • Wash the bibs repeatedly, both in the sink by hand and in the washing machine 

Rating Criteria

Protection: We rated how well the bibs protected the babies and surrounding area from getting messy. 

Comfort and Fit: We looked at how comfortable the bibs were for the babies to wear and how adjustable they were to accommodate the babies’ growth. 

Ease of Use: We considered how easy the bibs were to put on and take off.

Cleanup: We evaluated how easy it was to keep the bibs clean and how quickly they dried.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*