Toddler Travel Hack: Snack Bento Box

After two very long cross-country flights, I am here to tell you about the toddler travel hack that I can’t get over: bento box snacks!

I can take zero credit for this idea. I’m not sure where it came from originally but I discovered it on one of my favorite (new-to-me) Instagram accounts to follow, kids.eat.in.color. Kristen Bell shared this post that showcased the bento box snack hack and my jaw dropped at the geniusness of it all. The post went into why she includes apples (clean teeth), blueberries (good mood), bell pepper (immune system), elderberry gummies (immune system), etc…

I found this right before our flight so I included snacks that we had on hand: dried strawberries, Yogis, dates, pepitas, cashews, carrots, bell peppers, apples, craisins, and chocolate candies as a treat. As soon as she started getting antsy on the plane, we handed her the rainbow bento box and she quite literally jumped up and down in her seat and giggled with excitement. She went through each snack, section by section, and finished them off slowly and deliberately. She even at the pepitas, a snack that she has never liked in the past.

Later in the flight, she wanted more snacks so I handed her a container of cut grapes but she insisted that I put them in the pillbox. In fact, we ended up using it for the whole trip! Going forward, we will try to keep this for travel only so that it doesn’t get old. It’s going to be clutch for road trips too.

We happened to have this 14-slot pillbox (that I use for supplements when I travel) which worked perfectly because she could press a little button to open each section instead of having to pry it open with her fingers.

Edit: After reading your comments and feedback, I have included other sectioned options that are not pillboxes. I can see how this is unsafe for small toddlers and apologize for sharing it without considering that. One great idea is to use a covered ice cube tray, or, if you want even more sections, this jewelry organizer box is another fantastic option. Really any craft storage box for smaller items would work too. This is the one I found on Amazon but I bet one trip to Michael’s would result in a bunch of other great options. Any other ideas are welcome!

All of my cousins this weekend told me I should create this as a branded product and sell it. I will not be doing that, but someone should!

Safety note: Amalia is old enough to know the difference between a pill/vitamin and a snack. If your child is younger or doesn’t yet know the difference, obviously use another type of container for snacking so they don’t mistake a real pillbox for their snacks.

Comments

  1. Michaela said:

    This idea makes me very nervous – a kid might see these pill holders somewhere filled with actual medications and think they are snacks! It seems incredibly dangerous. There are plenty of kid snack containers out there. On the go formula dispensers might be a better and safer idea!

    2.18.20 · Reply
    • Tiffany said:

      I absolutely agree with Michaela, this is really dangerous. How would you ensure that your child is grabbing the “right” one?

      2.18.20 · Reply
      • Julia said:

        I would hope that parents know not to put a pillbox with real medication within reaching distance of their toddler or put their toddler in a situation where they would not know the difference. If a child can reach for a pillbox full of meds without a parent noticing, that’s definitely a bigger problem!

        2.18.20 · Reply
        • Tiffany said:

          Fair enough, but accidents/mistakes can happen. What happens when they are visiting an older relative who has them out?

          2.18.20 · Reply
          • Julia said:

            I think either way, whether or not the child has used this activity or not, when you’re visiting an older relative, the parent should check the house for any issues such as medicine within reach of a child. And again, if the kid doesn’t know the difference between pills and snacks then this is not for them!

            2.18.20 ·
    • Julia said:

      I hear you on this, Michaela! Amalia is old enough to know the difference and because we take so many supplements in our home, we’ve talked a lot about that difference. But it is definitely a fair point for any child who is younger or doesn’t know the difference between medication and snacks.

      2.18.20 · Reply
    • Hillary said:

      I saw this on Kristen Bell’s instagram as well. It is a really interesting hack – but I also get REALLY nervous about the pill box part. I found something with a similar concept, but is different from a pillbox in shape. I think I might try this for our next trip.

      https://amzn.to/38DVa3N

      2.18.20 · Reply
      • Lily said:

        So it’s not even an ”original” bad idea. Why can’t you use one of the tupperware products- didn’t they do a sponsorship?
        Kids, no matter, how smart, they may be, are curious and quick!
        It’s also rude go to someone’s house and ask “hey can you childproof your house for my kid?” Just to make sure there isn’t a pill container around with actual pills not snacks. It just seems unnecessary when there are so many good products out there, without needing create a potentially challenging situation.

        2.18.20 · Reply
        • Julia said:

          I get what you’re saying about the dangers and totally agree. That said, I don’t think it’s rude to ask people to put away dangerous items when your toddler or baby is visiting! I have kids in and out of my house all the time and if a parent ever doesn’t feel safe with anything here, I am totally fine with them asking me to move something or change it.

          PS While I love Tupperware, I haven’t found a Tupperware product that has sections like this but they should definitely make one 🙂

          2.18.20 · Reply
          • Lily said:

            As someone without kids, I don’t need to child proof my house every time someone with a kid comes over. It’s on the parent to watch their kid and also teach them to respect others’ space. To be fair, I don’t have a multi-day of the week pill container laying around but I do have lots of breakable items.

            2.19.20 ·
  2. Aileen said:

    I think it’s a brilliant idea and have open conversations with your child (at any age) If you are worried. I am sure there was supervision while eat anything on a plane…pill box or not.

    My idea would be to put cute stickers on top of each compartment….makes it cute and if you have more than one kid you can tell them apart. Def using this on our next flight! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    2.18.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Good idea for the stickers. Anel said the same thing!

      2.18.20 · Reply
  3. Hailey said:

    What a fun idea! Thank you for sharing what worked for your family. I am always looking for ways to keep my son entertained on a flight. Xo

    2.18.20 · Reply
  4. Deb L said:

    Moms now days are so clever! What a cool idea. My children are all adults, but something like this could work for adults who are traveling and need to portion control. Obviously, for an adult it would need to be a bit larger, but still a great idea! Thanks for sharing

    2.18.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Great idea for adults too! You could use the crafts box I linked above for this. The sections are much larger.

      2.18.20 · Reply
  5. Nicole said:

    I don’t understand why people are getting so upset and writing mean comments (that Julia mentioned on her insta story, not the ones published here). If this doesn’t work for you/your parenting, don’t do it. Nothing is a mandate, Julia is just sharing ideas of what worked for her and her daughter.

    2.18.20 · Reply
    • Kristen said:

      Mean comments are not warranted, but this post is understandably striking a nerve with some. I have a toddler and, while I wouldn’t use this snack container method myself, I also wouldn’t want to send her to someone’s house where their five year old was snacking out of a pillbox. My daughter wouldn’t understand the right and wrong way to do this, and it seems like a silly thing to have to police as a parent, as we have a million things to worry about with young children every day.

      2.18.20 · Reply
      • Julia said:

        I totally hear you on this, Kristen. I just updated the copy with other ideas for boxes and will re-shoot the photo ASAP.

        2.18.20 · Reply
    • Betsie said:

      Just weighing in because I don’t think the comments are meant to be mean. When I first saw this post today, I thought brilliant and sent my niece the link immediately for her toddler. She brought the concern to my attention how toddlers may associate pills with food/candy using these containers. Her mother in law babysits often and uses such pill boxes. It never dawned on me until she mentioned. It’s valid point and worth mentioning for consideration of others. It’s not something to be sensitive about if the awareness prevents even one child from making that mistake.

      2.18.20 · Reply
      • Julia said:

        I 100% agree, Betsie! I did not publish the nasty comments. I only approved the ones that were constructive.

        2.18.20 · Reply
  6. Kelsey said:

    I had to come comment after seeing Julia’s IG stories. If putting snacks in a pill box makes you nervous, don’t do it. Julia wouldn’t have done it if it was dangerous for her daughter. It’s completely fine if this idea doesn’t work for every family, but the fact that people are getting upset about it is ridiculous. Use your best judgment as a mom, but don’t search for opportunities to scold and lecture other moms.

    2.18.20 · Reply
    • Lindsey said:

      Amen to that!!

      2.18.20 · Reply
  7. Melinda said:

    You can easily find storage boxes with dividers at the dollar store! I use them in home organization (I don’t have any kiddos) and they’re so helpful for organizing things like batteries, screws, nails, jewelry, etc. I actually buy most of my organizational products at the dollar store and fill in any missing pieces with pricier items from container store (which I adore, but is $$$).

    2.18.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Good to know. Thanks, Melinda!

      2.19.20 · Reply
  8. Rachel said:

    I saw your stories so I’m not even going to read the comments. I am extremely practical and think everything through and my head didn’t go to worst case scenario which with my anxiety it normally does. You can literally find something dangerous with everything so I don’t know why not picking is so big with bloggers. I saw a lot of people post about this recently and all had good experiences. Thanks for posting about your experience as well and for being awesome and choosing to update your post. You rock.

    2.18.20 · Reply
  9. Sophia said:

    I follow you in Instagram and saw that you were getting mean comments about this. I think it is terrible that people are being mean to you about this. Yes this could be a safety concern, but it is also a clever way to entertain a child with snacks. Also, if you had not shared this, people would not have been able to contribute the additional ideas for the edited post.

    2.18.20 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thanks for the support, Sophia! I understand their concerns, of course. But truly believe in always giving feedback in a kind way!

      2.19.20 · Reply
  10. Jennifer Quitiquit said:

    I’ve done this before with a fishing tackle box container too!

    2.19.20 · Reply
  11. Nora said:

    I love this concept for traveling – even for myself! Much better/cheaper than airport snacks or airline food.

    2.20.20 · Reply