So now that you’ve decided to take the leap to begin your baby’s relationship with solids, you find yourself standing in the aisles of Baby City wondering where to start. Everywhere you turn are different products begging for your attention, each promising something better than the last. Add to this the idea of having to fit yet another baby contraption on your already crowded kitchen countertop.
The good news is that you actually don’t need that much stuff. In fact you may already own quite a few bits and pieces that have been tucked away and long forgotten deep within your kitchen drawers. Remember that before you know it, your baby is past the pureed food stage and is able to eat exactly what the rest of the household is eating (barring a few small tweaks). So unless you are planning on starting a baby food factory in the comfort of your own home, there really is no need to buy every gadget and machine known to mankind.
The first thing to do, before getting started, is to invest in a good feeding chair. Go for something washable or better yet wipeable, and steer clear of light colours. It doesn’t have to be an expensive chair but it needs to be one that supports your baby correctly (a booster seat doesn’t count!) Being supported correctly means:
- Being supported at the hips so that your baby is positioned upright (without sliding around or slumping) with his pelvis tilting slightly forward.
- Using bolsters (rolled up blankets or towels) where needed to ensure baby isn’t moving around.
- Ensuring baby has a footrest for balance so that they can concentrate fully on eating and not on balancing (if baby can’t reach the footrest, make use of rolled up towels or even Tupperware).
- Making sure baby can rest her elbows comfortably on the highchair tray.
Note: never leave your little one unsupervised when they are in their highchair and be sure that you position the highchair somewhere out of harm’s way (plug points, stove tops, ironing boards, sharp corners etc.)
Right, once that’s out of the way you need some other feeding accessories:
Plastic spoons that aren’t too broad but are small and flat enough to ‘scoop’ the perfect amount into baby’s tiny mouth (my favourite are the Munchkin spoons found at Baby City, Clicks or Dis-Chem).
Little plastic bowls. Preferably ones with a lid so that you can pack them into your baby bag when on-the-go or to store food in the fridge. While porcelain ones are cute (and oh so quaint), they will undoubtedly land up in a million little pieces on your kitchen floor. So think twice before handing over your great granny’s porcelain porridge bowl.
Bibs! I have recently discovered disposable bibs and they are my new best friend for messy feasts. They are big enough to cover a substantial portion of my little guy and the best part is that there’s no need to worry about trying to get stains out – have a look out for the Pigeon disposable bibs, found at Baby City, Clicks or Dis-Chem, that come in a pack of 20. (If you can’t find them it may be because I have bought them all). If you opt for washable bibs, go for the ones with a waterproof backing. Don’t even waste your time with pretty little bibs (unless as an outfit accessory or drool catcher), you will soon see that they serve no purpose when it comes to the sheer carnage about to ensue during mealtimes.
Drinking cups. A sippy cup can be introduced from seven months and a straw cup can be introduced from nine months. Bottles should be used for milk feeds only and water or diluted juice can be given from a drinking cup. The straw cup is the best choice to prevent tooth decay when drinking juice (as it prevents liquids from pooling in the mouth, which is the case with both a sippy cup and a bottle). Philips Avent, Dr.Brown and Nuk all make fantastic quality straw cups that are dishwasher safe and BPA free.
You may require a washable mess mat to place under the feeding chair to catch the debris raining down from above. This wasn’t needed in my household as my dogs have smartly worked out that being positioned directly under my son’s feeding chair during mealtimes is a guaranteed feast for them too.
Now for the food preparation tools:
- A handblender or food processor. I found using a handblender so simple and easy to fit in a kitchen drawer or clean in the dishwasher (no additional counter space needed!)
- A steamer. Stove-top, electric or microwavable will all do.
- A masher to smash larger pieces into a mushier consistency. As your baby grows and can handle different textures, a masher is a handy tool to use.
- A deep ice tray or food cube tray to freeze individual servings. I used a silicon ice cube tray for smaller portions (the silicon makes it easier to get the frozen portions out) and the food cube tray for slightly bigger portions. I found the freezer containers with the attached lids to be the easiest to store (the lids don’t pop off by mistake in the freezer) Look out for Tommee Tippee Pop Up Pots and Tray or Vital Baby Prep and Go Food Pots, both from Baby City.
- Freezer bags (found at any local retailer) to store individual ice cubes of food (using a permanent market to record the contents and the date the food was made).
Now the fun (and a bit of mess) starts. Look out for my next post on preparing baby food.