This week's product: Smart Steps Portion Plates by Evenflo; $12 for a 2 pack.
What it is: Plastic lunch and dinner plates for kids 6 months and older with color-coded portion shading on the plate for the three key toddler food groups: protein, fruits and vegetables, and grains.
Why it's different: These and other products in the line, including cups, utensils, and scoops, were designed with help from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Interdisciplinary Feeding Team. About 20 percent of toddlers today are overweight.
The plates attempt to teach both mom and child portion control, especially for toddlers ages 3 to 5 -- the phase of development when tots possess the natural instinct of knowing when they are hungry and when they are full.
My Review: I liked that the plates are lightweight yet sturdy, and can go in the top rack of the dishwasher. They did help to remind me to serve produce or fruit with every meal -- when I left that spot on the tray empty I felt really guilty.
The plates taught me that I had been serving and expecting my kids to eat too much meat and protein at meals -- that's actually one of the smaller portions on the plate -- so I've been paring back to more appropriate amounts.
The plates also come with a little scoop in the middle that can be used to hold dip or as a big spoon. But my kids, ages 4 and 5, didn't find much use for that feature.
One drawback in my view: The colored portion squares scratch easily, so your child is better off using rubber coated utensils and you'll have to cut food on another plate before serving if you want to keep them pristine. My kids use adult silverware now, so the surface is pretty scratched up, which means they fit in well with just about everything else in my house.
All in all I liked the plates and use them often. And one plate snaps on top of the other for quick and easy storage in the fridge.
++How do you control your toddler's portion sizes? Do you worry they are eating too much or not enough?