The fun and games of the early weaning days are long gone in our household, but recently a few first-time mummy friends have asked me what they should buy in preparation for weaning their little ones, so I thought I’d share the products that I found essential at mealtimes.
When it comes to weaning, whether you’ve decided to follow the baby-led route or the spoon-fed route (or a mixture of both), weaning is a messy business. Thankfully, the right equipment can make the experience that little bit more manageable, so here are my top ten weaning and feeding products:
1 // Highchair
In the early weaning days, you might want to feed your little one in their bumbo / bouncer, but once weaning is a little more established and your baby can sit up unaided, a highchair becomes a necessity as feeding your baby upright reduces the risk of choking.
With so many highchairs on the market all with differing styles and colours, finding the perfect highchair for your little one can be a bit of a minefield. To help you with your choice, here are my favourite highchairs that are not only safe, but also sturdy and easy to clean.
2 // Mess mats and table mats
Weaning and mess go hand in hand, so to make the whole process less stressful, and make cleaning up a breeze, a mess mat to pop under your little one’s highchair is a must-buy. We have the Messy Me Messy Mat and I can’t rate it highly enough. Made from beautiful hard-wearing oilcloth (it comes in a number of different patterns; we have the Olive Green which I love), it’s a really generous size (90 x 120cm) and is perfect for protecting your floor from squashed banana and carrot puree! Easy to wipe clean, it’s also suitable for the occasional wash in the washing machine at 30C and when not in use it folds up really neatly and flat for easy storage.
Despite our weaning days being in the distant past, I still use our Messy Me Messy Mat under Phoebe’s highchair at every mealtime and it’s also brilliant for play-time too; no more play-doh in the carpet or paint splatterings from dropped paint brushes, hurrah!
Table mats are also a great investment if your highchair doesn’t have a tray and I can highly recommend TUMTUM mats. Not only are they a brilliant size for little ones, they also wipe clean easily, have fun vibrant designs that the little ones love and they do a sterling job at protecting the table not only during meal times but also from our artistic creations when we are getting our craft on.
3 // Bibs
As I’ve mentioned numerous times in this post already, weaning is a messy job, so bibs are an essential piece of kit if you don’t want to spend every spare hour washing your little one’s clothes. In the early stages of weaning, soft fabric bibs with a plastic backing are ideal, but as your little one grows and attempts to feed themselves, bibs with handy catch-all pockets and/or sleeves are your best bet. We’ve always used Skip Hop Zoo bibs and cheap and cheerful IKEA bibs.
4 // Plastic bowls and plates
Unbreakable plastic bowls and plates are essential for weaning, especially as they are likely to be dropped on a regular basis! With a whole host of weaning plates and bowls on the market, it’s really down to personal choice as to what you buy. However it’s worth considering those with suction bases to keep your child’s food in place, those with two or more sections so you can keep foods separate and those with a ‘lip’ to make it easier to keep the food on the plate.
5 // Soft tipped spoons
When it comes to weaning your little one, the right spoon is oh so important. Firstly, it should be soft-tipped plastic, as metal retains heat and could burn your baby’s sensitive little mouth and plastic is a lot gentler on little gums. Secondly it needs to be shallow to make it easier for your baby to easily take food from it. I tried a lot of different spoons but found Vital Baby Soft Tip Feeding Spoons to be the best.
6 // Trainer Cup
Sippy cups and beakers are ideal for giving your little one a drink with their meal. There are lots of different styles to choose from including those with free-flow spouts and those with non-spill but I’ve always used the ever popular Tommee Tippee First Cup.
7 // Food Processor / Blender
Making your own baby food is easier than you think and less expensive than buying it pre-made but it helps to have a food processor or blender to hand. Babymoov’s Nutribaby has been a godsend since Phoebe was born and I can’t recommend it highly enough. With 5 functions; steam cooker, blender, bottle and jar warmer, steriliser and defroster, it’s incredibly versatile and is still used daily to steam veggies for the little ones.
8 // Frozen food storage
If you go down the ‘DIY’ route and prepare your baby’s food in big batches, you will need something suitable to freeze it in. Small plastic pots with lids are ideal, however I preferred to use the Annabel Karmel Food Cube Trays and pop the cubes of food out into freezer bags once they were frozen.
9 // Wipes
Baby wipes are a must when weaning and I still haven’t come across a brand of wipes that are more durable than Huggies Pure Wipes. They are essential to have on hand for wiping mucky little faces and sticky fingers.
10 // Emergency stash of Ella’s Kitchen pouches
I know, I know, in some circles packaged baby food is very much frowned upon, but in reality you might not have the time or inclination to slave away, so an emergency stash of Ella’s Kitchen pouches is a godsend!
Have you been through the weaning stage with your little one yet? What are you weaning essentials?