There’s no denying the signs. He’s no longer fully satisfied by a bottle. He shoves anything and everything he can get his little hands on into his mouth. He gazes longingly at you anytime you dare to eat in his vicinity. It can only mean one thing…it’s time to start our weaning journey and introduce this baba to big boy food!
It’s Sod’s law really. Just as you get used to one new routine, it all changes. No longer can you just get by with two boobs, a few bottles and a steriliser…oh no. It’s time to clear some space in your kitchen cupboards, my friends, as with this major developmental milestone (they really do grow up so fast!), comes a new wave of baby kit you’ll need to buy over the coming months to make the whole weaning process as easy as possibly.
To avoid one big hit to the bank balance, we started getting ready early and have been collecting bits and bobs here and there in preparation. While such obsessive over preparedness isn’t for everybody, what it has done is give us a unique insight into what new parents will need at every stage of a baby’s weaning journey.
And so to help others about to embark on this messy feeding ritual, I thought I’d put together a list of everything you could possibly need to wean your baby onto grown up food, divided up into the key stages of the process.
Weaning Stage One: First tastes /complementary feeding
While the Government recommends beginning this weaning process from 6 months, it’s generally believed that you can start earlier (from 4 months’ old) if your baby is showing the aforementioned signs that it’s ready to try proper food. Most importantly they need to be able to support their neck well in an assisted sitting position.
And remember, at this stage, it’s all about complementary feeding (i.e. introducing new tastes rather than extra calories) alongside your usual breastfeeding/bottle routine.
Bumbo feeding seat – this moulded baby chair is a great piece of kit for weaning as it helps your baby stay upright and seated while giving them their first taste of food. It’s also seriously sturdy, wipe-clean and can be plonked safely on your kitchen table or floor, providing a solid safe space to feed. These last forever so you can usually find them second hand and in great condition online if you’re looking for a bargain!
Bibs – an absolutely essential item to protect your baby’s clothes from inevitable spills (and save you from extra laundry duties in the process). We like these flannel ones with a Velcro collar which we bought from Mothercare…very washable in the sink and quick dry!
Feeding spoon – you don’t need loads of spoons at this stage as you’ll only be using them once or twice a day. We initially got by with just this soft 1st stage spoon from Beaba, which doubled up as a chew toy for our teething boy!
Baby rice – most babies’ first taste is this porridge-like HiPP baby rice, which you can get from any good supermarket or Boots. It’s not exactly a taste sensation so we quickly started mixing it with homemade apple or pear purée. Little tip…no need to invest in feeding bowls at this stage. Just mix one teaspoon of baby rice with one tablespoon of breast milk or formula, in the lid of your baby’s bottle after their morning feed. Saves on extra washing up…
Baby food processor – as you start branching out and introducing your baby to new flavours, a food processor like the Babycook from Beaba will make the whole process of steaming veg and turning them into a smooth baby-friendly purée super easy. We started by making puréed carrot, swede and sweet potato (Teddy’s favourite), but as your baby grows the options are endless!
Freezer trays (small size) – to save you from making homemade purées every day, these ice cube sized baby food freezer trays from Oxo Tots are an absolute godsend. Just make a batch of purée and use this to freeze it in individual servings for use later on. We’ve had a bit of a production line going so now our freezer is full of tiny frozen portions of carrot, swede, pear and apple, ready to be blitzed in the microwave (no more than 20 seconds) whenever we need them.
Food pouches – great on the go or if you haven’t had a chance to make your own, these baby food sachets from Babease are Teddy’s absolute favourite. They promote vegetable-led weaning (in contrast to the fruit-based/high sugar products you find elsewhere on the market) while introducing your baby to new flavours that will help with the development of their tiny taste palates.
Sippy cups – to teach your little one to start using beakers, it’s worth introducing them to sippy cups early (with boiled/sterile water inside – COOLED DOWN OF COURSE!). We like these ones from Oxo Tots with the removable handles, which should last you through every stage of the weaning process.
Weaning Stage Two: Sustenance and texture
Once your baby’s appetite for proper food has grown (which, realistically, could be from as early as 7 or 8 months), it’s time to start upping their feeds and reducing their milk intake bit by bit. As a result, it’s now not just about new tastes, but sustenance and texture too, so portion sizes and the regularity of feeds will increase. With this weaning development, comes the next wave of kit you’ll need to acquire…
High chair – at this stage, you’ll be giving your baby food much more regularly so it’s worth investing in a more permanent high chair that will last for a good few years. If, like us, you don’t have the biggest kitchen, we highly recommend checking out the ingenious feeding chairs that clip onto the side of your table (rather than taking up valuable floor space).
Feeding bowls – no longer satisfied with a mere bottle lid of baby rice, it’s now worth investing in some proper feeding bowls. There are loads of clever ones on the market that stick to your table with suction cups to avoid them getting thrown on the floor. But we’re traditionalists at heart so have invested in some old school, classic Bunnykins bowls like the ones we had growing up (thank you eBay!!).
Feeding time for Teddy! (Photo credit: Ariel from the Dreamcatcher Photography Studio)
Multi-portion freezer storage – as your weaning babe’s portion size increases, you’ll want to make bigger quantities of homemade mush that you can freeze for the week ahead. So it’s now worth buying some new freezer containers the next size up, like these excellent silicone ones from Beaba.
On-the-go feeding spoon – with your baby now feeding regularly throughout the day, you won’t want to be stuck at home for every session. So it’s worth getting one of these on-the-go spoons (that come with a handy storage case) to keep in your changing bag for use when out and about.
Heavy duty bibs – until your baby is grown up enough to use cutlery and sit at the big boys table, every feeding session is guaranteed to be a total mess fest…especially if you’re brave enough to partake in baby led weaning! So it’s definitely worth investing in a few long sleeve feeding aprons (like our favourite one from Funky Giraffe Bibs) to save your baby’s clothes from inevitable spills and stains!
I hope you’re found today’s article useful…it’s quite a long list but hopefully it covers everything!
So, have your already started your weaning journey? How are you finding it? Have you gone old school or are you trying baby-led weaning? Are there any core weaning items that you would recommend that aren’t in my list (but that people should know about)? As always, we’d love to hear from your so please do share your stories, experiences and recommendations with the group in the comments section below!