Choosing the right lunch box is key to keeping your child fed and energized throughout the day. Whether you’re looking for an insulated bag that keeps meals cool or a food container with multiple compartments, the best toddler lunch boxes are made with materials that can withstand rough handling and are easy to clean. They’re also great at containing leaks when those inevitable spills do occur.
The term “lunch box” can refer to two types of products: insulated lunch boxes or bags, and non-insulated food containers. An insulated lunch bag will help your child’s meal stay warm or cool for longer periods of time, and it may or may not come with smaller food or beverage containers to go inside it. On the other hand, non-insulated food containers (think: bento-style containers) tend to be more compact and are typically designed to hold food but not necessarily maintain a desired temperature. However, some of these non-insulated containers can be conveniently microwaved or paired with an added ice pack to help keep meals fresh for hours.
As you shop, think about the size and design features that would be most helpful for your family. If you need a lunch box for preschool or daycare, consider one that can easily fit inside a backpack. Larger insulated lunch boxes, on the other hand, are great for family trips to the zoo, park, and wherever else refrigeration might not be possible. Some lunch boxes even include detachable shoulder straps to make them more convenient to carry.
Finally, consider how well the lunch box holds up to leaks and rough handling. Toddlers can be very active —and, let’s face it, uncoordinated —which means you’ll need a lunch box that can withstand frequent spills and occasionally getting tossed on the ground. When shopping for a lunch box made of fabric, opt for ones you can wipe clean or machine wash. If you prefer a hard-sided lunch box, look for one made with dishwasher-safe materials to make cleanup easier.
Scroll down to see which lunch box is right for your toddler. These styles are all approved by Amazon shoppers who happen to be parents, too.
1. The Fan-Favorite Bento-Style Lunch Box
With more than 23,000 Amazon ratings and an overall score of 4.7 stars, this popular bento-style lunch box is a winner with both kids and parents. The BPA-free plastic container is available in a range of prints to appeal to different interests and tastes including rockets, puppies, and tropical scenes. Parents have appreciated that it’s leak-proof and durable. The outer edges feature a rubber coating that helps protect it if it’s dropped, and two latches on the outer shell keep everything securely inside.
The interior of the lunch box features a removable food tray that is safe to heat up in the microwave and toss into the top rack of a dishwasher. It has five different compartments which make it easy to portion out snacks, sandwiches, fruits, and more. This option lacks insulation, and there’s no designated spot for an ice pack, but you can easily pair it with a matching insulated bag that has the extra space to add one in.
- Size: 8.5 x 6.5 x 2 inches
- Available styles: 17
Promising Amazon review: “This is a perfect lunch box for toddlers. Spillproof and durable. I don't have to worry about my daughter losing tops to tupperware!”
2. A Tiered Stainless Steel Lunch Box
This stainless steel bento box features two stackable compartments large enough to fit an entire sandwich in, plus snacks and other delectables to pair with it. There’s even an extra mini pod that serves as a container you can fill with yogurt or sauces. Just make sure to keep messier items in the upper tier, since that compartment is reinforced with a leak-proof silicone lid.
Along with its ability to fit larger foods, this design is made of quality stainless steel that can easily be washed in the dishwasher (minus the silicone top). One drawback is that this box isn’t insulated or microwavable, so it’s best to pair it with an insulated bag that can fit an ice pack or use it for foods that can be stored at room temperature. There are also mixed-reviews on how easy it is to open for smaller tots, but one reviewer wrote, “I got it for my 3.5-year-old son to take to preschool. I was initially concerned that it may be hard for him to open, but he is managing fine.”
- Size: 7.3 x 3.8 x 5.5 inches
- Available styles: 2
Promising Amazon review: “I prepare lunches and snacks for my 1 yr old 4x a week and searched for the perfect stainless steel box to transition to. This is the absolute best thing I could have invested in. The open spaces allow for versatility in size of food items. The compact size is great for storing in backpacks or diaper bags and also still fits in small handheld coolers. It’s easy to clean and looks very well made.”
3. This Animal-Themed Insulated Lunch Box
Skip Hop Kids Zoo Lunch Box, Monkey
If your toddler loves trips to the zoo and is wildly fascinated with animals, this insulated lunch box from Skip Hop is a perfect match. It features a roomy interior that’s big enough to hold a small Thermos or water bottle, and it has a mesh pocket on the inside to store utensils, lunch money, or even an ice pack. The zipper for the monkey design even comes with a fun banana-shaped handle that’s, “easy for [a] toddler to pull,” noted one reviewer. And the other animal designs have just as fun theme-appropriate pulls — for example, the narwhal backpack is accented with a clam pull, the butterfly with a flower, and the dog with a bone. You can also find dinosaur, unicorn, llama, and fox backpacks.
Reviewers have described the soft-sided bag as being made of a “canvas-like” material that’s “easy to clean” and “strong and durable.” One reviewer also confirmed that it “insulates well and doesn’t leak,” and another wrote that it can keep “lunch cold for at least 4 hours.” While this lunch bag is a great option for keeping meals cool, you’ll need to get individual food containers separately — for added fun, you can pair this lunch box with a matching sippy cup or snack cup to complete the set.
- Size: 9 x 3.3 x 7.5 inches
- Available colors and designs: 8
Promising Amazon review: “Perfect to carry around a few snacks and a sippy cup for my toddler. It keeps everything nice and cold and the design is absolutely adorable!”
4. A Matching 5-Piece Value Set For Toddler Lunches
Here’s a lunch box value set that has everything your child needs for lunch at preschool or daycare: an insulated lunch bag, bento box, 16-ounce water bottle, ice pack, and spork. The bento box features a rubber-like trim to help protect it from accidental drops and a leak-resistant silicone lid. It also has an outer shell and a microwavable, dishwasher-safe insert with different compartments to hold the food. The outer shell of the bento and the stain-resistant fabric lunch bag should be washed by hand, but the water bottle is safe to wash in the top rack of a dishwasher.
- Size of insulated lunch bag: 10 x 8 x 3.3 inches
- Available colors and designs: 6
Promising Amazon review: “Great for packing lunch for my toddler. We’ve had them for a few weeks now and use them daily. We wash by hand and the seals are holding up great which has not been the case for other brands.”
5. A Microwave-Safe Set Of Stacking Bento Boxes
Not only are these stacking bento boxes good for keeping foods separated, but they’re also microwave and dishwasher safe. This set comes with four separate compartments (although you can also snag a version with just three compartments) that lock together, and it even features air-tight lids to keep liquids from spilling out. Plus, the lunch box comes with a set of utensils (one fork and one spoon) that fits securely into the inside of the lid.
Warming hot foods in the microwave is a cinch with this option — just separate out the compartments that need warming and microwave them as needed. This lunch box isn’t insulated, though, so try pairing it with an ice pack in a separate bag to keep foods cool.
- Size: 6.2 x 4.6 x 5.7 inches
- Available colors and designs: 5
Promising Amazon review: “This little lunchbox has been perfect for our toddler's lunches. It is so easy to portion and separate the meal. It eliminates all waste associated with plastic baggies and is super easy to clean.”
6. An Insulated Neoprene Lunch Box That’s Machine Washable
This lunch bag is one of the larger options on this list, but it features a thick, stain-resistant, and machine-washable neoprene fabric and a zipper closure. The manufacturer specifies that the bag can keep foods warm or cold for up to four hours and one reviewer reported, “I add an ice pack in the morning and it keeps things safe until lunch time.”
Reviewers have also attested that this lunch box contains spills, with one writing, “The fabric is lightweight and does not weigh down [my three-year-old’s] backpack. The best part is the fabric is leak proof.” It easily collapses down when not in use, saving on precious cabinet space, and comes with a detachable shoulder strap, which can be helpful for adults to carry on day trips with their toddler.
This option doesn’t come with any food containers, but you can easily add in one (or more) separately. Choose from a fun dinosaur print or other kid-friendly options like astronauts and unicorns.
- Size: 12.6 x 6.3 x 12.2 inches
- Available colors and designs: 10
Promising Amazon review: “Easy to clean, fun design and sturdy. A little larger than needed for a kids lunch bag but it works well for my toddler. I can fit a water bottle, bowl, utensils, snacks and lunch container in this bag.”
Also Great: These Ice Packs For Toddler Lunch Boxes
If you’re looking to keep your toddler’s lunch chilled, a set of slim ice packs can do the trick. The BPA-free plastic ice packs measure just 0.25-inch thick, which means they won’t take up a ton of space in a lunch box. These penguin-shaped ice packs are popular with young kids, according to Amazon shoppers — but they’re also available in butterfly and owl shapes, as well as a rectangular set if you prefer a more traditional version.
- Size: 4.75 x 3.15 x 0.25 inches
Promising Amazon review: “[These] ice packs are super cute. My toddler loves them in his lunch bag. Colorful penguins for the win!”