Starting the weaning journey can be a daunting process – with so many different gadgets designed to help with weaning, so many different recipe books and websites devoted to the weaning process and so many ‘experts’ offering advice, it’s difficult to know where or how to start…
In reality, there are a few key pieces of equipment which can help make the weaning journey easier and more manageable. Here are our 10 best baby weaning products:
A good high chair.
In the very early days of weaning, babies can be fed in their bouncy chairs, pushchairs or sitting on someone’s lap. However, once your baby can sit up on his own, you’ll need a highchair. Keeping your baby upright whilst eating reduces the risk of choking, encourages good eating habits and help keeps all the mess in one place. There are so many different high chairs on the market to choose from. Here are some things to bear in mind when choosing:
- Is it going to be comfortable for your little one?
- Does it feel safe – are the straps easy to secure? Does it feel sturdy if your baby has a temper tantrum?
- Does the chair need to fold up to be stored away between mealtimes?
- Does it need to push up to the table?
- What style would you prefer – wooden or traditional?
- Is it easy to clean? Weaning can get very messy…
Buying a high chair can be quite a big investment – there are some fairly pricy ones around nowadays, so it’s worth going and looking at a few if you can before buying.
A wipe clean tablecloths and / or splash mat
Whether you’re weaning your little one on purees or baby led weaning, it can be very messy! Babies love exploring their food with their hands – wiping it over the table, high chair tray, themselves or dropping food on the floor. The area surrounding your high chair can often be complete chaos by the time your little one has finished their meal. Having a good, wipe clean mat to go under the high chair will help protect your floor from all those mealtime spills and splashes. They can be wiped clean after use and will also catch bits of finger foods dropped on the floor, allowing you to pick it up afterwards and shake it outside to get rid of all the dropped food quickly and easily. Our splash mats are hard wearing and will stand the test of time, but there are a wide variety of mats on the market – ranging dramatically in quality. Alternatively, some old newspapers laid under the high chair would do the trick too.
If your high chair doesn’t have a tray, it’s worth thinking about a wipe clean mat or tablecloth to protect your table from food being smeared all over it. Our mats also double up as mini tablecloths or our oilcloth by the metre is ideal for stylish, practical tablecloths
Plastic Bowls and Plates
Weaning bowls come in all shapes and sizes nowadays. They tend to be made of plastic – crucial in those early days when they may well be dropped or thrown on the floor. Many bowls now come with suction pads to prevent babies picking them up and throwing them on the floor. It’s worth also having a few bowls with lids – they’re great for storage and really useful if you need to feed your little one when out and about. It’s also worth checking they’re microwaveable and dishwasher safe to avoid extra work for you.
Cutlery should also be plastic in the early days of weaning. Soft tipped spoons are important for early weaning when babies’ gums are still very sensitive. Long handled spoons are ideal for reaching the bottom of jars or yoghurts. When your little one starts self feeding, spoons with a chunky, shorter handle, good grip and deeper scoop will help them get at least some of the food into their mouth… It’s also worth having a few to hand. My little ones would often grab the spoon I was using to try to feed themselves, so having another one nearby meant I could keep feeding them without having to grab the spoon back or find another one.
Recipe books / weaning plan
There are masses of baby feeding and weaning recipe books and websites around nowadays. Babies have never had it so good in terms of the range of food they can eat nowadays! There is more and more evidence that introducing a wide variety of flavours to your baby when weaning can help with their development and prevent them becoming fussy eaters. In the early days, I found having a weaning plan really helpful – giving me advice on what to feed and when – including tips on when to introduce different foods. I used Annabel Karmel’s Baby and Toddler Meal Planner and stuck to it quite rigidly in the first few months. I’m sure there are many more available now…
As we’ve already said, weaning can get very messy, so protecting their clothes is key. In the early days, when babies still dribble quite a lot, I preferred cloth bibs. They’re comfy to wear, and ideal to absorb dribbles and wipe your baby’s mouth after their meal. As babies get bigger and start feeding themselves, having wipe clean bibs – with or without a pouch will offer more protection. Our wipe clean bibs are best for the later stages of weaning – easy to wipe clean after mealtimes and suitable for occasional machine washing too.
Baby experts recommend encouraging babies to drink from a cup from 6 months onwards. Again, there are so many different types available now – some being free flow and others non-spill. Free flow cups are easier for younger babies to drink from but can cause mess if they’re tipped upside down and shaken around. Non spill cups prevent the mess but can be harder to suck from, which can be frustrating for little ones. You may need to try a few out before finding one your baby likes as a replacement for their bottle!
Ice cube trays and freezer pots
When preparing meals for little ones, many parents like to batch cook. In the first few months of weaning when you only need small amounts of food – this allows you to mix and match different flavours without spending too much time in the kitchen. There are a variety of small plastic pots designed for baby weaning or you can simply use ice cube trays and pop the cubes of food out into freezer bags or boxes once frozen. Sticking labels on the bags can really help you remember what on earth you pureed and when… purees can often look pretty similar when frozen into small cubes!
Baby wipes or damp flannel
However hard you try, weaning is a messy business. By the end of the meal, your baby is likely to have food all over their face and possibly in their hair and all over the hands as well (not to mention the high chair, table and floor!) Having some baby wipes or a damp flannel to hand allows you to clean your baby’s face / hands etc quickly before the mess goes any further.
Hand blender and Microwave
Whilst not essential, a hand blender certainly made my life easier. I tried various mashing devices which just didn’t really work and using our food processor just meant lots of washing up afterwards. The hand blender worked brilliantly to mash up / puree food without making much mess and was very easy to wash up after use.
There are various special food warmers you can get for weaning – they may work for some people but for me, our microwave did the job. Just remember not to leave the food in the microwave for long, to stir the food well when it comes out and check the temperature before serving to your little one.
We hope this helps you with planning for weaning your little one.