Step into any department store and visit the baby section or shop at baby stores online and offline and you will find a huge array of choices when it comes to baby bibs and burp cloths.
One or two generations ago, it was basic napkins that did the trick. Our parents used a pile of napkins and they washed and reused to wipe the dribble, spit-ups and drool from their babies.
As I reminisce, wallowing in a few nostalgic memories from the past, it is clear that a lot has changed since then; good or bad will probably spark a debate with valid points supporting both sides of the equation.
Having said that, this article is going to highlight the options available to all parents and categorize them into perspective. Who are we to do that? We are a team of parents ranging from different race; religion and culture who decided that all parents especially mommies face similar challenges with their respective babies irrespective of our diverse background.
After a lengthy bib hunt research-buy-test experience, we have come to certain conclusions and would like to share our opinions to all parents who care about making the best choices for their babies.
So, let’s talk baby bibs and burp cloths, shall we?
Bibs before Starting Solids
There is one thing that seems very clear to us.
From birth right through breast milk or formula feeding, most babies experience some form of drool, dribble and/or spit-ups. At this point the bibs need to be large enough to cover most babies’ clothes and absorbent enough to handle the usual drool and spit-ups.
The bibs and burp cloths most useful during this stage have many names i.e. burp, drool, dribble, plain regular terrycloth bibs, sleeved bandana, novelty and scarf or neckerchief bibs.
Were these names created as a result of clever marketing strategy? Possibly but to be fair babies’ are unique in their individualistic and natural expressions with some infants experiencing severe spit-ups and burping while others could suffer massive drooling during teething stages.
This is how sub-niche categories are created giving birth to
- drool and dribble bibs for teething babies,
- burp cloths for severe burping and spit-ups,
- Sleeved bibs for totally covering babies clothes from stain or spit-ups in addition to protection during playtime with colors and paints.
- Bandana and novelty bibs that may address basic drooling and dribble despite the size limitation due to the aesthetically pleasing designs to match or complement babies clothing.
- Scarf or neckerchief bibs that basically function as winter warmers for babies comfortably covering the neck and lower chin area while still addressing any drooling and dribbling
Babies that spit-up and drool moderately require simple terry cloth bibs at the very minimum. Babies who drool or spit-up heavily may require bibs that are made with 2 -3 ply waterproof materials.
Drool/dribble and burp bibs usually look alike with only differences in material, size and neckband types.
Almost all terry cloth bibs are made from either:-
- Cotton which is really soft, cooling and comfortable and is useful for moderate drooling and burping.
- Polyester which is more absorbent compared to cotton. What’s really noteworthy is the fact that Polyester is wrinkle, shrink and fade resistant which makes it last longer. The setback is that it loses the cooling effect making it hotter than cotton.
- PEVA (Polyethylene Vinyl Acetate) which is non-chlorine, PVC-free, biodegradable material mostly used as a PVC alternative in toy products, baby bibs and shower curtains. It is important that parents know that PEVA is made from petrochemicals containing untested chemicals.
- Or combination of 2 or 3 of the materials mentioned above
Most of the neckbands are either Velcro or Snap fastening.
- Velcro sometimes gets caught with other materials while washing (scratchy part)
- There’s a tendency for babies’ neck to suffer irritation from the Velcro material sometimes leading to rashes.
- Poor quality Velcro can be removed by babies’ quite easily
- Much better if the closure is at the side instead of the back of babies’ neck
While Snap fastening is preferred, a simple tip is to fasten both ends of a Velcro closure exactly without any overlapping and most of the issues can be minimized.
Selecting a baby bib in the early stages should be based on babies’ skin sensitivity/conditions and spit-up and drool quantity. If you want the most absorbent bib, then polyester is the recommended material especially if you live in a cooler environment. The other option is to find 2-3ply waterproof material sandwiched between 100% cotton layers.
Bibs after Starting Solids
However, once babies start on solids usually at about 6 months of age, feeding bibs become more functionally useful. There are manufacturers who claim that the same drool, dribble and burp bibs can address the needs of a baby starting Solids. We however, do NOT agree.
There are 3 drawbacks to even good waterproof terry cloth bibs.
- Stains easily
- Loads and loads of bib laundry, wasting time and water
- Non economical as you need to keep stocking up on cloth bib
The most functional, economical and bib laundry load saving bibs are medical food grade, soft high quality premium silicone baby bibs. The reason we are emphasizing on words like ‘medical food grade soft high quality premium’ is because the baby feeding bib market has been saturated with TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) stiff ‘plastic-ky’ bibs also claiming as food grade soft and quality bibs.
Unfortunately, the images look alike and it’s a challenge for most parents to spot the differences. However, we have taken the necessary steps to enlighten parents on what these differences are and how to spot them.
We begin by first identifying the most common silicone baby bibs in the market place also claiming to be food grade…
- TPE Silicone Feeding Bibs with plastic neckband (most common)
- 100% Medical Food Grade Soft Silicone Bib (including silicone neckband
TPE Silicone Feeding Bib
- The majority of the silicone baby bibs that can be found in most offline department stores and online ecommerce platforms are made of plastic or TPE materials being marketed as food grade silicone.
- Please take note that TPE is a thermoplastic elastomer. Although generally considered safe, TPE means it is hot-melt vinyl which has all kinds of nasty additives that can be absorbed through your skin.
- TPE is an unstable material that will melt if overheated with varying points. In addition, TPE bibs may cause an allergic reaction on surface contact with babies’ skin especially when sweating or in warm weather conditions and in areas of high humidity.
100% Medical Food Grade Premium Soft Silicone Bibs
- 100% Medical Food Grade silicone bibs are completely safe inert material that has to endure and pass precise and meticulous tests to qualify as Medical Food Grade. There is absolutely no comparison between the TPE Bibs and 100% Medical Food Grade Silicone Bibs as far as health risk and durability goes.
- Silicone rubber is generally non-reactive, stable, and resistant to extreme environments and temperatures while still maintaining its useful properties.
- Many competitors make similar claims but their baby bib has a strap or fastening that is either plastic or skin irritating Velcro with limited neck size.
- The Medical Food Grade Silicone Neckband is sufficiently adjustable with 4 position fastener to accommodate babies neck size.
- It must be noted that infants and toddlers sometimes tend to pick up the strap or fastener and put it in their mouth out of sheer curiosity making the common TPE and Plastic bibs risky.
- Protruding Pocket – Since most bib pockets lie flat when worn making it tricky to catch drink spills and food crumbs, 100% Medical Food Grade Silicone Bibs have a slightly protruding pocket that automatically sticks out making it much more effective in its functionality as a crumb catcher.
In conclusion, it is clear that most terry cloth bibs which are waterproof with 2-3 ply polyester and /or cotton combo should address the needs of infants in the first 6 months to overcome drooling, burping and spit-ups. However, after baby has started feeding, the more economic and hassle-free choice is to opt for premium quality medical food grade silicone bibs which are a lot bigger in overall size, pocket width and the material texture is a lot softer and foldable. The difference is huge.