When it comes to weaning, whether you have decided to go the baby-led or pureed route (or a mixture of both) it is a very messy adventure. Having the right equipment can help to make the whole experience a little easier for all involved! When going shopping to buy the basics, you will come across shelves upon shelves of gadgets and gizmos, all designed to make weaning easier. But in reality you don’t need to spend an absolute fortune, just a few key items will help you and your baby through the transition of eating solid food.
This list is made up of items/products that we found useful when the little tester started weaning.
When you first start weaning, you might want to feed your baby in their Bumbo chair or Bouncer, but once weaning is more established and part of your routine, a highchair becomes an essential, as it is advised you feed your baby upright to reduce the risk of choking.
There are many different types of highchairs available on the market, it can be an overwhelming minefield. When looking it is important to think about:
- How much space do you have?
- Do you want something that can be easily folded up and stored away?
- Will you be needing to take the highchair to other people’s houses?
I recently wrote a whole review piece about our favourite highchair – The Mamas and Papas Baby Bud Highchair. It doesn’t take up any extra room in the kitchen and can easily be transported.
As I’ve mentioned earlier weaning is an incredibly messy business, so bibs are an absolute essential. In the early stages of weaning, I would use soft fabric bibs so you can use them to wipe your baby’s mouth.
Once your little one becomes older and wants to be an independent eater, I would highly recommend using an all over plastic bib. These things are amazing at keeping your little one clean, they basically do as they say on the packet and cover everything! Meaning you’re not constantly washing huge piles of food stained clothing.
We used the ones from Mothercare – they come in a 2 pack for £9.
- Plastic bowls with lids
Unbreakable plastic bowls and lids are a definite essential, as they often end up being thrown on the floor. There are so many different brands and types of weaning bowls and plates on the market, it is really just down to personal preference. However, it is worth considering those that have a suction base, just to keep your child’s food on the highchair tray rather than on the floor.
Also, bowls with lids are a good essential to have when you first start to wean, as it is very unlikely that your baby will finish all of their food. Having a bowl with lid means you can save what they have left and give it to them later on in the day. You can also use them for keeping snacks contained when your baby is older.
4. Soft tipped spoons
When you first start to wean soft tipped spoons are a must, as metal spoons retain heat and could burn your baby’s sensitive mouth and plastic ones are a lot gentler on little gums, especially if your baby is teething. In addition, the spoons should be shallow, to make it easier for them to eat off. We’ve tried a few types of spoons but found the Tommee Tippee Explora spoons to be the best. However, the light coloured spoons do easily stain, but this is a small issue.
- Trainer Cups
When giving your baby something to drink with their meal, a sippy cup or beaker would be ideal. There are lots of different ones to choose from, but I would recommend using a free-flow cup to start off with, as children need to learn to sip rather than suck. We used the ever popular Tommee Tippee First Cup when the little tester first started weaning and after a couple of months, we started using the Munchkin 360 Cup (I have written a whole blog post about our experience with this cup).
- Frozen food storage
If you decide to go down the ‘DIY’ route and prepare your baby’s food in big batches, you will need something suitable to freeze it in. Small pots with lids work really well for this, however, they do take up a lot of room in the freezer. A more space efficient way is to use an ice cube tray and pop the cubes of food into a labelled zip lock bag when frozen.
- Weaning books
When you first start to wean, it can be really difficult to know which food to start with and how often to give it to them. I would highly recommend the Annabel Karmel Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner, this book has ideal first food recipes and examples of routines, to help you integrate food into your everyday routine.
- Pouches / Mesh feeder
Even if you decide to make your own baby food, having a few pouches in the cupboard is essential for those times where you are too tired to slave in the kitchen. I particularly like the Ella’s Kitchen and My Little Piccolo pouches, as they are organic, have no extra additives and there have a huge range of flavours/meals to choose from. We still use pouches, even though the little tester is way past the weaning stage, as they are a great way to sneak in extra fruit and veg into his diet.
Mesh feeders are brilliant for allowing your baby to explore different textures and new foods without the choking hazard. Really good foods to put in a mesh feeder are;
You can also use them as teething relief by making your own milk ice lollies, using either formula or breast milk.
One thing to note is that you have to be super quick about cleaning them up after your baby has finished, because if allowed to sit the leftover food has a tendency to stick onto the mesh and be difficult to get off.
We bought ours from Home Bargains, I can’t quite remember the price but I do know it was under £2. This might be good option, so you’re not wasting your money on more expensive ones, which basically do the same job, if your baby doesn’t get along with it.
- Mess Mats/Table Mats
I personally have not used one of these, as our floors are laminate, thus easy to clean. But, I have heard they are pretty amazing for putting underneath highchairs for if you have a floor which is a bit harder to clean splats of carrots off.
After your baby has finished weaning you could use the mess mat for playtime, to help protect your floor from play-dough and paint.
Table mats are fantastic if your highchair doesn’t have a tray or for when your toddler starts eating at the table with you. I would recommend getting a mat that can suction to your table, to avoid your baby throwing all their on the floor. I would recommend the Easymat, as it’s full coverage and has three separate sections for you to put your baby’s food into.
As I’ve mentioned a few times in this post, weaning is incredibly messy, and as a result wipes are an absolute must! At the start of any meal time, always have a pack of wipes within easy reach. I used to take out a couple of wipes beforehand, for speedy quick clean ups.
Have you been through the weaning stage? What are your essentials?
Thank you for reading, hope it helps.