Once your baby is ready to get to grips with exploring the wonderful world of solid food, a whole new world of fun – and mess – opens up. If you’re following baby led weaning, a major part of the process is allowing your child to get her hands ‘dirty’ while she explores food through a sensory process with her hands and mouth. But it’s not just about getting messy and enjoying the experience of playing with her food. You’ll want to ensure that your baby is actually getting to taste her food and explore different textures with her mouth as well as her hands, and that’s where the right utensils and accessories come in.
You’ll need a bib to help keep the mess to a minimum as well as plates or bowls and feeding utensils that encourage your baby to feed herself independently. Baby led weaning is all about letting your baby explore food for herself by giving her a range of foods that she can suck, play with and – eventually – chew on. Unlike spoon-feeding your baby, baby led weaning means letting your child control the pace at which she tries and tastes different foods.
The premise is simple; introduce your baby to a range of age-appropriate foods, cut into pieces that she can pick up and pop in her mouth at her own pace. It’s important to ensure that your baby can sit unaided and support her head when she’s eating to minimise the risks of choking.
This cleverly-designed bib attaches to your baby’s highchair to create a hygienic eating surface with no gaps for food to get dropped into. Thanks to the fact that it’s easy to clean, it helps make light work of clearing up after even the messiest of mealtimes – just wash the tray in the sink and pop the bib in the washing machine. It fits most highchairs, including ones without a tray, and you can also use it with booster seats. It’s not just for mealtimes, either – you can also use it for messy playtimes to keep the clean-up time to a minimum. It’s ideal for keeping in your changing bag for use in restaurants and cafes when you’re out with your baby, and we love that it comes with its own wipe-clean zipped storage bag for easy transportation.
Baby led weaning isn’t just about handing food to your baby and letting her get on with it – sometimes you’ll want to gently mash foods like banana or avocado so that she can have a go at feeding herself. This masher and bowl, developed with child nutrition expert Annabel Karmel, makes it easy to do so. It’s suitable for use with cooked foods too, and it’s just the right size for mashing individual baby portions. We find little ones love having a go at mashing their food for themselves, so it’s a good way of encouraging interest in new foods.
Keeping your baby hydrated is an important part of introducing her to solid food, but handing her an open cup is almost guaranteed to end in a soggy mess. A training cup is the solution; it helps your baby learn how to drink from a cup whilst avoiding spills. This one is dentist-recommended as it has a clever spoutless design – the 360-degree drinking edge seals automatically when your child stops drinking. The handled version has handles designed for little hands to hold (but you can also get one without handles if you wish), and it’s easy to keep clean with no extra valves or parts to wash – just pop it in the top rack of your dishwasher.
The flexible tip on this brightly coloured training spoon makes it possible for your baby to scoop up food at any angle, so it’s ideal to help her get to grips with feeding herself. The spoon is made from food-grade silicone so it’s safe for your baby to use, while the soft tip is gentle on her delicate teeth and gums, so you don’t need to worry about her hurting herself with it. It’s ergonomically designed for little hands to use, and the base is cleverly designed to ensure hygienic, upright placement when she puts it down on any surface.
Baby-led weaning is all about letting your little one set the pace for exploring food but, unfortunately, this sometimes means food gets thrown if it meets with disapproval. And while the occasional dropped carrot is no big deal, things can get much messier if your baby decides to toss her plate across the room. This suction plate has different sections so you can serve an array of different foods in an appealing way while baby-led weaning, while the base and silicone pad means your little one won’t be able to lift – or throw – the plate. When it’s time to whisk the plate away, just remove it via the concealed opening.