When a baby starts on solids, they are introduced to a new world of tastes and textures. Their parents, on the other hand, have to get their heads round a whole new world of products. There is an astounding amount of weaning gear on sale.
It is possible to spend a king’s ransom and buy a whole load of stuff. On the other hand, you can get by with spending next to nothing. It’s a very individual thing and we’re not going to tell you what you must – or mustn’t – buy.
But we thought a DoddleGuide on what you might need could help you figure out what you’d like to get.
1. Somewhere for your baby to sit
Usually a highchair, but it doesn’t have to be. A grown up’s lap is fine too, or some parents swear by baby seats like Bumbos, particularly in the early days of weaning when babies need some support to stay sat up.
Highchairs come in all shapes and sizes, both new and second-hand, and every budget is catered for. One practical thing to consider is how cleanable the highchair is.
Imagine a pot of yoghurt being tipped over it – will you have use a toothpick to get it all out?
Most people have low tolerance levels for marathon highchair cleaning sessions.
2. Bowls, spoons and cups
There’s a huge array of baby tableware to choose from, and whether cute cartoon characters or designer cool floats your boat, you should be able to find something you like.
Lots of people opt for Ikea, because their stuff is cheap and colourful.
If you want to avoid buying anything new, one option is to use your baby’s highchair tray as a glorified plate, another is to dig out picnic bowls if you have these.
Or you could ask friends and family with much older kids if they’ve got anything stashed in their cupboards you could have (as cute baby bowls and plates are hard to chuck away).
Unless you are going down the baby-led weaning route and have decided you don’t want your baby to use a spoon at all, you will need baby spoons. Cups are required too for your baby to have a drink with their food.
As with anything your baby uses during meals, these are liable to be flung to the floor and/or banged on the table, so bear that in mind when you are deciding what to get.
3. Preparing and storing food
There is no need to buy anything new to make your baby’s food. If you want your baby to have purees, you’ll need a blender if you don’t have one already, plus something to store the purees in (e.g. ice cube trays and/or freezer bags).
Storage pots are handy for keeping food in the fridge (for instance if you cook a bit extra in the evening for your baby’s lunch the next day). And of course we have to give our very own DoddleBags a plug here, as they are sturdy 100ml bags with a nozzle which are perfect for storing (and dispensing) baby food.
We’ve already written about the messy business of weaning . There are a load of things you can buy to tackle this, from plates with suction pads on them so your baby can’t fling them to the floor, to floor mats to catch all the debris. You don’t necessarily need any of these but if mess is going to mess with your sanity, they may be hugely helpful to you.
Some sort of bib is pretty hard to do without because of how much food usually ends up on babies, particularly in the early days, although you can use a muslin or a tea towel instead of buying something specific.
5. Feeding on the go
This basically involves all of the things we’ve already talked about, but when you’re somewhere else or on the move.
You can simply use whatever’s on offer where you’re going - lots of cafes and restaurants cater for babies with highchairs and baby bowls/spoons. Or you can bring your own stuff with you. It is possible to buy travel highchairs or booster seats, or you could just sit your baby on your lap.
If you are transporting your own food, you’ll need to put it in something sturdy and leak-proof (naturally our first choice would be a DoddleBag). We still haven’t got over the time a pot of kiwi fruit and yoghurt exploded in our changing bag.
The mess was epic.