Review: OnTray

OnTrayTRRButton2A few years ago, Laura, a mom in Ohio, decided that there had to be an option out there to let kids easily feed themselves while riding in a shopping cart, because leaving the kids at home when you shop isn’t always an option for busy parents. She looked around online and found out that there was nothing available that would do what she was looking for.

So she created it herself. And the OnTrayTM was born.

What it is:

A simple, yet ingenious idea, the OnTray is a plastic snack holder that clips onto the handle of a shopping cart – allowing a child riding in the cart to feed him or herself a snack while leaving Mom’s (or Dad’s) hands free. The snack hold has a lid that slides off and on – and even can slide onto the bottom of the snack holder either for storage, or to provide added stability for the OnTray to balance on the cart.

There can be many other uses for the OnTray as well. Fill it with coupons, and it’s a handy place to store a calculator and shopping list as well. Put crayons and paper or toys in it if your child doesn’t need a snack, but still needs to be kept busy. Or throw it in a diaper bag to use as a snack container wherever you go. Being flat, and wide, it’s easier to balance on a lap or stroller tray than many other containers out there.

According to the manufacturer, the OnTray is made from BPA-free plastic, is dishwasher safe (top rack), and comes in four fun colors – blue, green, pink and yellow.

Here’s my take on it:

Laura, the creator of the OnTrayTM was kind enough to send us one to try out. I filled it with goldfish crackers and took it to Target with us on our way out of town on Saturday. Now normally, Becca is not at all interested in riding in the seat of a shopping cart. Nope, she’d rather be walking like her big sisters do, riding in the basket of the cart (not something we allow) or riding on a ‘bench’ or ‘seat’ part if there’s extra ones attached behind the carts. However, 3 kids + 2 seats usually means that Becca gets stuck in the cart anyway. Which she doesn’t like and usually lets us know – loudly. Not my idea of an ideal shopping trip, that’s for sure.

However, as I’ve discovered, the way to Becca’s heart is through her stomach. Healthy snacks have kept her successfully occupied at soccer games, cheerleading practices, and now – while shopping. She saw the goldfish-filled OnTray and immediately let me put her in the cart seat. Without complaint. Which is a miracle in itself.

We did have one minor problem in that the shopping cart handles at our Target are ergonomically designed with finger grips, and are therefore slightly bigger in diameter than most cart handles. And although the OnTray did snap on to the handle, it had a tendency to pop back off if not held in place. This wasn’t a big deal most of the time, since my hands were usually on the cart handle anyway. It did cause a slight goldfish ‘explosion’ while we were in the checkout lane however. Which the girls thought was quite amusing. :)

We took the OnTray with us again while grocery shopping at Meijer on Memorial Day, filled with goldfish crackers again (one of Becca’s favorites). And even though Abby and Hannah sat on the ‘bench’ part of the cart, Becca again made no fuss about sitting in the cart seat, with her OnTray full of ‘fishies’ in front of her. In fact, it worked out extremely well because Abby and Hannah were seated facing her and could grab some for themselves also. The OnTray clipped perfectly onto the cart, and Becca not only finished off her fishies, but also a couple of handfuls of blueberries that I filled it with after we’d paid for them. And she easily held it on her lap while in her carseat on the way home.

A couple of other things that I noted about the OnTray are that it seems to be extremely durable – ours has been thrown, dropped or knocked off of the cart with no damage to it at all. And it’s a great conversation starter – I had several other parents notice and ask about it as well. It washed well in the dishwasher so far and the only complaint that I can come up with is wishing that Laura had invented it sooner. I definitely could’ve used this back when Abby and Hannah were babies and toddlers!

The bottom line:

I think that this is one of the most useful baby/toddler products that I’ve seen out there, and it should be a ‘must-have’ for new parents. It would make an awesome baby shower gift, and I can see them being passed down from one parent to another as their kids age and no longer need it. From what I can tell, it’s useful, durable, and safe – something that’s a big relief in this day and age of product recalls.

Where can you find it?:

Check out the website at You can also find the OnTray at several online or physical retailers – see the website for locations.

Re-Visiting this review (January 2010):

Well, since I originally posted this review, we really haven’t used our OnTray very much, at least while grocery shopping. That’s because my youngest daughter is almost 4 years old now, and is big enough to walk by herself in the store on a regular basis. She only rides in the cart now on an occasional basis and only under extreme protest. I don’t generally carry snacks with me to the store either, since I no longer have to take a diaper bag wherever I go. :)

However, the OnTray does still come in very handy! On a regular basis, I’ve filled it with snacks for my daughter to eat during her sisters’ practices, games and other activities. Because of the low, flat design of the OnTray, it’s easy for her to balance it on her lap in the car or in a chair so she doesn’t spill the crackers or whatever else are in there. It’s easy for her to open and close the lid by herself, unlike some of our other snack containers. And since there’s not just a tiny opening to grab snacks out of, it works extremely well when all three of my girls are sharing a snack together. So this is one product that definitely can grow with your child, even after you no longer need it for its originally intended purpose.

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