I had never even heard of the term baby led weaning until my baby shower, when a good friend of mine gave me a baby led weaning recipe book. I always thought that you went from breastfeeding to purees and then magically your child would eat adult food once they were a bit older, and had all of their teeth. Just one of the many things I was completely clueless about as a new parent.
After doing some research into the pros and cons of either starting solids with the more traditional puree method, versus the baby led weaning route, I decided that I did not fancy pureeing and mashing endless combinations of fruits/vegetables and would much prefer to let my little man eat what I was already eating. Albeit just a smaller version and with slightly more healthy modifications i.e. no salt or refined sugar.
So what exactly is baby led weaning? The idea behind baby led weaning is to eat with your baby, at the same time, the same table and sharing the same food. Instead of having ‘baby food’ (purees or spoon feeding), your baby feeds themselves. This allows them to explore and enjoy healthy family foods.
What are some of the benefits? It gives your baby a chance to touch and taste a range of food and explore the different textures. It includes your baby in mealtimes, gives you a chance to actually eat yourself as you aren’t spoon feeding, helps to develop coordination and chewing skills and encourages independence and confidence.
What are some of the downsides? It is very messy! Very very messy. Did I mention it was messy? When a baby first starts their journey into baby led weaning, there is a whole of touching, sucking and chucking, and not a whole lot of actually eating. Food goes in places I never even thought possible. The floor, the roof, their hair, their feet. For a slightly OCD paranoid cleaner, I was really nervous about this aspect.
But If you have decided that baby led weaning is for you, here are some items that I have learnt after twelve months, that have made my life so much easier. I wish I knew about some of these at the very beginning. It would have saved me much scrubbing of floors!
Remember, things that are PINK are a LINK
Mumma’s Little Helper Food Catcher
This product is hands down, my absolute number one greatest asset to baby led weaning. My husband made mention one night of how helpful it would be to have a catcher under the high chair to help with the cleaning. Not just a plastic mat on the floor, something where you could scoop the food up before it even got there. Well luckily for us, a very clever person already had this idea and put it into fruition.
Mummas Little Helper Food Catchers attach to your high chair and act as a plastic ‘net’ under it, to catch most of the food that your little person drops. Because of the material they are made out of (a thick non toxic laminate), after meal time is over, you can literally get a cloth and wipe and scoop the food easily from the catcher. No more wiping down floors. It is also machine washable and comes in a range of very cute patterns. They fit on any four legged high chair and honestly make clean up SO MUCH EASIER. I cannot stress this enough. They are genius and I could not live without it.
I love my good old basic $1.99 Ikea bowls, cups and plates. They are durable, cheap and great quality.
However, my little boy just loves to throw his bowl and plate on the floor, and when he was learning to spoon feed himself, a suction bowl was an excellent investment. I have found the cheap ones from the supermarket to be very touch and go on the actual suction side. After a couple of loads through the dishwasher, they just don’t do the best job.
Instead, I have found these guys from Eat, Teeth Sleep are an excellent product. They are dishwasher, freezer and microwave safe and BPA free. They come with a lid so you can bring them along to the local cafe as well.
Another great option from this company are these Plate Stickas.They can stick almost any plate or bowl to any smooth surface.
Bib with catcher
As already mentioned, baby led weaning is a messy affair. I was using traditional cloth bibs to start with and very quickly got tired of washing three to four bibs per day. Enter the plastic bib with catcher. Similarly to the suction bowls, I have found the really cheap ones to be difficult to clean. I wanted to be sure that a product I was using so often was sanitary.
My personal favourite is this one, from Baby Bunting. It is a hand me down, so years old, and even after using it several times a day for over a year, it is still in pristine condition.
Because the bibs are made from silicone, there is no need to soak or put through the washing machine. They are flexible, durable and easy to clean. But best of all, they do a damn fine job of catching the food that your little eater will surely drop. My son always has the biggest look of amazement when he ‘discovers’ food in his bib that he missed from his mouth earlier.
Are you looking for some inspiration of what to feed your baby led wed little human? Foods that are easy to grip for tiny fists and fingers to minimise mess but also maximise nutrition? I am obsessed with One Handed Cooks. Like literally obsessed. They have an excellent cookbook with whole sections dedicated to baby led weaning and family foods, but also an extensive library of recipes on their website and Facebook page. Like this list of 100+ baby led weaning recipes.
Another option is to purchase the baby led weaning cookbook, which started it all for me. It has tips on how to get started, the philosophy and research behind baby led weaning and lots of inspiration for recipe ideas.
I have also written an article about Quick Breakfast Foods which are my personal favourites for family breakfasts suitable for little people. Ideas like sultana oat pancakes which are easy to tear into strips to eat and are really easy to clean up afterwards.
Want to keep the inspiration going? Here is a list of other really helpful products that I have found along the way in my baby led weaning journey:
- Silicone placemat and plate which are great for putting a variety of foods onto a highchair
- Messy Mat for when you travel without your beloved Mumma’s Little Helper
- Giant ice cube trays for when you want to freeze food in single portions
- Silicone starter spoons
- Bento Box to travel with snacks and lunch items to make eating fun and filled with variety
To learn more about baby led weaning, try these resources:
For more information on getting your baby started on solids, Raising Children Network has some excellent and practical information.
The decision to do baby led weaning is 100% up to you Mumma Bear. I am in no way advocating that it is a better method than what have decided for your family. It is simply the route I have chosen, and I am hoping to help other families with their baby led weaning experience and to make their life easier. I want to stress also that I have not been paid for any of my recommendations, they are all my own because I love the products so much.
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