Read this ultimate guide before you buy your kid’s dabba or bottle!

School terms usually begin with wrapping of book covers, paying of fees, buying the right sized uniforms and bags. When all that is sorted, moms begin the most agonising prep task of the school day- the purchasing of dabbas and waterbottles for the new academic year. With so many varients in the market, it is difficult to know which ones to buy and which ones to avoid. Here is the mother-lode guide that should help you.

1. Avoid 100% plastic

Plastic dabbas are made with a toxic substance called BPA that stands for bisphenol A. This chemical is a known endocrine disruptor and effects brain and reproductive developments in children. When you pack food into them, the chemicals in the plastic-ware leech into the food and become toxic for your child. The bad news is that even the plastic products that flamboyantly display ‘BPA free’ are deceptive. According to new research, such manufacturers often replace BPA with BPS or bisphenol S that is equally toxic for the child. To be on the safe side, avoid cheap/reused plastic.

2. Leak/spill proof

It is embarrassing for your child to open their tiffin boxes amongst friends and watch the oils/curry spill onto the bag or hands clothes or floor. Indian foods have a typical pungent odour that multiplies the public mortification for a student. Therefore it is best to invest in a box that has an inner rubber lining on the lid that seals the foods inside and prevents accidental leakages. Also the four corner clasp that holds the seal in place is a worthy investment.

3. Easy to carry – not too wide, not too high

As dabbas go, another rule of thumb is to ensure that the box is neither too high, nor too wide. The disadvantage of very high boxes is that they cannot fit in a bag that is already bursting to seams with books and paraphernalia. This forces the child to carry high tiffin boxes in another bag and increases the chances of them losing the additional article. Wide boxes make the zips in most backpacks rip away and render useless too soon.

4. Steel ones tend to be heavy and hard to open

The all-stainless-steel, that our good old grandpas used would seem like the perfect choice amongst the line-up yet. Alas, it has a flaw. The steel boxes tend to be at least thrice the weight of the plastic box! Especially the ones from reputed companies have heavy clamps that are too tight for children to open and end-up spilling in the force used to open them.

5. Plastic clip-on lids with steel containers

As of now these are the some of the best products in the market. The stainless steel base protects the food and the plastic lid offers a light weight easy-to-open clamp that is child-friendly.

Water Bottle

1. Avoid 100% plastic

As with dabbas, avoid recycled and cheap plastic. While the jury is out on Tupperware bottles, it is safe to say that metal bottles keep water safer and cooler. Try these out.

2. Sipper sealed

The thing to remember in metal bottles is that the sipper needs to be sealed, or needs a lid. Otherwise dust and mud settles on the sipper making it dangerous for your child to sip on. Look for variants of the metal bottle with a sipper that has a plastic foldable lid.

3. Tight lids

Water bottles are notoriously leakage prone. Make sure when you are buying that the bottle has enough rubber threads to avoid wet patches on your child’s bag or uniform.

4. Slim and tall, not short and wide

The Indian school bag is usually designed with two side pouches to hold water bottles in. These tend to be narrow. So, it is better to avoid the bottles that are wide at the base as they will not fit in the holder and slosh about in the school bag. Any leakage then, would spell disaster on notebooks.