weaning and feeding essentialsThe 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?

  • Sarah CantwellJuly 1, 2016 - 8:05 am

    Some great tips for weaning! Emergency food is always a good idea xxReplyCancel

  • Blogging mummyJuly 1, 2016 - 8:45 am

    Omg Mess mats are an essential. Now my son is a bit older though he manages to chuck food further than the mess mat ha ha!!!ReplyCancel

  • RebeccaJuly 1, 2016 - 1:13 pm

    Such a helpful list here! I can agree with all of these. Messy mats and wipeable tablecloths were our saviours when we were weaning! xReplyCancel

steph1091As I mentioned in my last Schleich review, with nearly a three year age gap, it’s rare to find toys that appeal to Jack as much as they do to Phoebe, but Schleich figurines are a huge hit with both of them and they regularly while away many an hour letting their imaginations run wild with the various animals we have in our ever-growing Schleich collection.

Renowned for encouraging educational play, Schleich’s figurines have been designed with attention to detail and are perfect replicas of the real deal. They have been hand painted with care, ensuring each figurine is totally unique and although they may be slightly more expensive than other figurines, they are well worth the small premium thanks to their exceptional quality and robustness. They also feel like real heirloom toys; timeless toys that can be handed down through the generations and I love the thought that maybe one day my grandchildren will get just as much joy from them as Jack and Phoebs do.

As part of Schleich’s ‘ Educational play the Schleich Way’ campaign, they have created a 16 page brochure that is jam packed with useful hints and tips for parents to help their little ones get the most out of their playtime. Covering topics such as a balanced play diet, encouraging imagination and early language skills, it really is a wonderful resource for encouraging imaginative play and development. The brochure is free to download and all that’s required is a Schleich toy or two and a wonderful imagination!

I found the information about a balanced play diet really interesting as it’s something that I hadn’t really sat down and thought about before:  “Children need to spend their time enjoying many different areas of play includin9 Social Play, Active Play, Creative Play and Free Play. As with a child s nutrition, there is such a thing as too much of a qood thing and it works the same way when it comes to play. A child who spends all of his time on sports, while neglecting games that encourage imaginative play, never experiences free play, whilst a child who spends hours in front of a screen will not develop well-rounded social or physical skills.” 

There are also some brilliant game suggestions in the brochure to stimulate your child’s imagination and I’m sure we’ll be playing a lot more of ‘Animal Restaurant’ and ‘What’s the animal?’ over the coming months (You’ll have to download the brochure to find out how to play them!)

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Along with the brochure, Schleich also very kindly sent Jack and Phoebs these three black and white beauties to add to our collection. Phoebe literally squealed with delight when I opened the envelope to reveal them and they have already been ‘introduced’ to all their play mates, although judging by the scene in our kitchen this morning, it would appear that all the farmyard animals weren’t too keen on the zebra joining their gang!

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The benefits of imaginative play are extensive and include creative thinking, language development, a boost in self esteem and emotional intelligence development to name but a few. I’m also a huge believer that children learn best through the power of play and often the best toys are the ones that your little ones adore playing with, but are learning without conscious awareness. Schleich figurines definitely fall under this category and I will encourage Jack and Phoebe’s love for Schleich figures at every opportunity.

If you would like to download a free copy of the Educational Play brochure please click on the image in my sidebar to the right.

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For more information and to view the full range of Schleich figurines and accessories visit the Schleich website and follow them on facebook and twitter. Schleich toys start at just £2.99 and are available on their website or at Smyths Toys Store UK.

Disclosure: We were kindly sent these Schleich figures for the purpose of this post, but all opinions and images are my own.

  • mummyofboygirltwinsJune 20, 2016 - 10:30 am

    Harry is amazing at imaginary play but Lottie struggles so these look great – think I might need to help her out a little. Love anything that is well made and will last well xxReplyCancel

steph101I’m a sucker for any craft that involves the hand prints or foot prints of Jack and Phoebe, so when I was recently contacted by Buttonbag, the innovative British craft company, and asked to choose one of their new craft kits to review, I was immediately drawn to the ‘Baby Handprint Gift Kit‘.

If you haven’t heard of Buttonbag, they are a young British company, making their mark on the craft market. They produce a variety of lovely craft kits for children that ingeniously contain everything needed to make the finished item. Sewing kits have needles, sticking kits have glue and toys that need stuffing have stuffing. This is music to my ears, as 99% of the time I don’t have the correct bits and bobs to hand and often have to improvise much to my children’s dismay!

Recently Buttonbag launched a brand new collection of craft kits designed to create unique and handmade personalised gifts to celebrate new babies. Each kit is beautifully packaged in a ribbon-tied suitcase (which makes for great storage afterwards – ours currently houses Jack’s shell collection!) and they really are the most wonderful gifts for new or expecting parents.

There are eight craft kits in total including knitted booties, an appliqué cushion, bunting and the handprint kit that we were kindly sent, and you can either buy the gift and give it straight to the new parents or if you want to get your craft on, you can make the craft item up yourself and present the finished article in the suitcase. Either way, Buttonbag Baby is all about making something unique which proud parents will treasure.

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The ‘Baby Handprint Gift Kit’ contains everything you need (including easy-to-follow instructions) to create a unique hand and foot print keepsake of your baby. Contents include enough air-drying non-toxic clay to make at least two prints, a chiffon bag to keep them in, hanging ribbon, a gift tag and extra ribbon.

The instructions are super simple to follow and in a few very easy steps, you’ll have handprint keepsakes to treasure. After kneading, rolling and shaping, you just simply place your little ones hand in the clay to form an imprint and ta-da, it’s as simple as that! However, if your little one isn’t playing ball, you can simply re-shape the clay and start again, or cover it with clingfilm and try again another day.

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(I would strongly advise not to knead and roll the clay on a glittery tablecloth, oops! Although thankfully the kids loved the sparkly glitter in their prints!)

Prices start from £20 and if you’d like to purchase any of Buttonbag’s gorgeous wares, you can purchase directly from the Buttonbag website. You can also keep up to date with all the latest news by following Buttonbag on twitter and facebook.

giveaway

Hello Baby has teamed up with the lovely team at Buttonbag to offer one lucky reader the chance to win this fabulous ‘Baby Handprint Gift Kit’

For your chance to win, comment on this blog post, telling me who you’d like to win the set for AND fill in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Full Ts&Cs are below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions:

  1. Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding anyone professionally associated with Hello Baby Blog or Buttonbag.
  2. The prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative.
  3. The prize draw starts at 12am on 9th June 2016 and closes at 12am on 3rd July 2016.
  4. Entry is free and must be made by commenting on this blog post and filling in the Rafflecopter widget. Entrants can gain bonus entries by visiting Hello Baby on facebook, following @hellobabyblog on Twitter, tweeting about the giveaway, following Hello Baby on instagram, following Hello Baby Blog on pinterest, following @buttonbag_uk on Twitter, visiting Buttonbag on Facebook and then completing the Rafflecopter widget featured in this post.
  5. The name of the winner will be published on this website within 14 days of the competition closing.
  6. Hello Baby Blog’s decision on all matters is final and binding on all entrants. No correspondence will be entered into.
  7. By taking part in this competition you agree to be bound by the competition terms and conditions.
  8. Hello Baby Blog reserves the right to disqualify any entrant and / or winner in its discretion and without any notice in accordance with these terms and conditions.
  9. Once the winner has been selected at random using Rafflecopter, I will inform Buttonbag of the winner’s name and address and they will then send on the prize. I’m sure this won’t happen but I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post or arriving late.

Disclaimer: We were kindly sent this kit for the purpose of this review, however all opinions and photographs are my own. 

  • Tracy K NixonJune 10, 2016 - 5:08 am

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    my cousins babyReplyCancel

  • LESLEY BRADLEYJune 11, 2016 - 11:19 am

    For my first grandchild,due in October :)ReplyCancel

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    my friend who is expecting in about three months timeReplyCancel

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    my daughterReplyCancel

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    I’d love to win win this for my baby boy :) xReplyCancel

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    My new nephewReplyCancel

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    My sweet god daughter Ellie, shes 8 months!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle GravesJune 21, 2016 - 2:50 pm

    My brother and his girlfriend are expecting their first baby this would make a great gift for them, such a lovely keepsake xReplyCancel

  • AlicaJune 22, 2016 - 12:13 am

    My daughters best friend since primary school is pregnant with her first baby and I would love to win it for her :)ReplyCancel

  • CAT CULMERJune 22, 2016 - 9:16 pm

    My friend Lisa is due her first in Sept. This would be a lovely addition to add to her presentReplyCancel

  • Rebecca PhillipsJune 30, 2016 - 11:39 pm

    one of my closest friends is due her third baby in september so id love to win for herReplyCancel

Orchard Toys Where do I live?If you were to venture into the children’s playroom and open the ‘games cupboard’ you will see that we are partial to playing an Orchard Toy game or two. From the ‘Post Box Game’ that’s a huge hit with Phoebe to the ‘Lunch Box Game’ that we all love to play, Orchard Toy games are not only bright and colourful they’re also educational. So when Orchard Toys asked us to review their ‘Where do I live?’ game, I jumped at the chance.

Orchard Toys are designed with the ethos ‘Learning Made Fun’ and ‘Where do I live?’ is certainly no exception. The concept is very easy for little ones to understand; it’s essentially an animal lotto game which tests your child’s memory skills however in addition your child is also gaining a better understanding of the world as they match different animals to their habitats.

‘Where do I live?’ consists of four different boards (one for each player) that represent four different habitats: the ocean, the desert, the rainforest and the polar regions and 28 individual cards that feature animals and explorers.  Each of the habitat boards has 6 animals on it plus an all-important explorer and the aim of the game is to find each of these 7 characters before your opponents.

The game is super simple to play and although the recommended age range is 3-6 years old, Phoebe (nearly 2) can play it with ease, so it’s a great family game to include younger siblings.

To start the game, each player chooses a habitat board and all the animal and explorer cards are spread out, face down, on the table (or the carpet in our case).

Orchard Toys Where do I live?Orchard Toys Where do I live?

The youngest player begins by turning over an animal card and if the animal is shown on their habitat board, they place the card over the matching square. If the animal isn’t on their board, they must show it to the other players and return it to the table face down. Play then passes to the next person.

Once a a player has collected all the animals on their board, they then need to find their explorer card using the same method.

The winner is the first player to collect all the matching animal cards and explorer on their board.

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In addition to the fun lotto game, the underside of each board is filled with fun facts about the animals on that board and the habitat, so once the game is over, your little ones can learn a little bit more about the very different habitats of the world. This is a fun way for children to learn and one such fact is ‘ ‘Polar Bears actually have black skin.  It is their furry coats that make them look white, as the hollow hairs reflect the light!’.  Who knew?!

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Orchard Toys are totally dependable for producing fun yet educational games that children adore playing over and over again. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve played Where do I live? over the past few months with my two and I anticipate it will be accompanying us on another holiday very soon!

Where do I live? has an RRP of £9.50 and can be bought here.

Disclosure: We were sent Where do I live? for the purpose of this review however all opinions are my own

Bloom & Wild flowersOne of the best ways to instantly brighten up your house, is by displaying a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers. Not only do they look super pretty, they usually smell gorgeous too and having recently received some gorgeous blooms from Bloom & Wild, my kitchen looks a whole lot prettier.

If you haven’t come across Bloom & Wild before, they ingeniously offer their customers flower delivery through the letterbox. Designed by professional florists, each bouquet is packaged in a sturdy, breathable presentation box that is designed to fit through a standard UK letterbox (measuring 18.4cm x 3.8cm), so in the vast majority of cases, flowers can be delivered alongside the rest of your post with no need for the recipient to be in.

To ensure the flowers can fit through the door, rather than a pre-arranged bouquet, Bloom & Wild send individual stems that you can arrange yourself. If flower arranging isn’t your forte, fret not, there’s an instruction card within the package that guides you through the process and you can always find inspiration over on their beautiful Instagram feed.

Bloom & Wild flowers

Laid end to end, the flowers are tightly packaged to protect each petal and many of the flowers including these beautiful Peonies have protective netting on the individual flower heads to ensure they arrive in perfect condition.

Our beautiful bouquet is called ‘The Belle’ and it contains one of my favourite flowers of all time, beautiful peonies, alongside creamy Athena roses and subtle pink La Belle roses as well as green bell and bupleurum that complement the soft hues with a hint of lime green. They are truly stunning and brighten up my kitchen enormously.

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I can’t recommend Bloom & Wild enough, they are my go to when I want to send a bouquet to my loved ones and I recently bought my grandparents one of their brilliant flower subscriptions for their 70th wedding anniversary. My favourite nonagenarians are currently on their second delivery and have been absolutely thrilled with them too.

Have you ever sent or received flowers from Bloom & Wild?

Disclosure: I was very kindly sent this beautiful bunch of flowers free of charge. However all opinions and images are my own.