When George was about 4 months old, weaning started looming its head on the horizon. I started doing my homework and reading everything that I could about this major milestone. But there is so much information out there that honestly, it can be overwhelming. So, I tried to stick to official recommendations on sites like WHO (World Health Organization) or NHS.
That is not to say that I didn’t spend hours reading other moms’ experiences and talked to friends who had older kids and have been through the whole weaning process. That’s how I first heard about Baby Led Weaning and immediately wanted to know more as I found it so intriguing.
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If you are new to this concept, just a quick explanation:
What is Baby Led Weaning?
The term was first coined by Gill Rapley, PhD and a long time public health nurse.
In a nutshell, baby led weaning means skipping the whole puree food and spoon feeding stage. Babies are fed finger food in manageable chunks that are appropriately cooked (soft enough for the baby to be able to mask it with his/her gums but hard enough to be grabbed by little hands).
All the information you need on baby led weaning can be found in Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett´s book “Baby-Led Weaning- The Essential Guide”. In my honest opinion, this is a must-read for any parent that wants to go down this path. This particular edition is a completely updated and extended 10-year anniversary edition with a special price on Amazon, so don´t miss it.
Getting ready for Baby Led Weaning
You’ve researched everything you could about baby led weaning and decided that you are going to give it a go. Congrats! I wholeheartedly support you! It was the best decision for me and my son and I will do it again with my daughter when the time comes.
Now it’s time to start looking for those baby led weaning essentials that will make your life easier. The good news is that there aren’t many accessories that you need. Below I am going to list all the baby led weaning tools that I’ve used with my son as well as some that I wish I had but will surely use with my daughter.
Baby Led Weaning Essentials
1. Baby Led Weaning Bibs
Whether you choose to go with traditional weaning or baby led, bibs are must-haves. However, since in baby led weaning babies are in charge of their feeding, things can get messy and clothes will be covered in whatever they eat. So, at least for the first 12 months of weaning, I recommend these 2 types of bibs:
They are very easy to clean, just wipe out the food with a damp cloth, rinse it with warm water or even put it in the dishwasher or washing machine. The great thing about this type of baby led weaning bibs is the pocket that catches most of the falling food so you don´t have to pick it off the floor.
Babies love experimenting and food provides so many opportunities. So expect their meals to be squashed, analyzed and smeared everywhere. That’s why I think that these sleeved bibs are a great baby led weaning accessory. Not only are they easy to clean but because they cover most of the baby which means you probably won´t have to shower your little explorer after every meal.
2. Baby Led Weaning Mats
I won’t lie, baby led weaning can be messy business. There will be food flying around and dropped on the floor. The elegant solution for falling food is a splat mat that will make your life much easier.
These baby led weaning mats, besides being pretty they are also very practical, waterproof and can be cleaned with a single wipe. Not to mention that you can also use it for containing any art project mess, as a table cloth and even as a picnic mat.
- DIY splat mat
A budget-friendly alternative to the above splat mat is to simply cut a shower curtain to the desired size and place it under the high chair. You can do the same with a very large bin bag. Although they may not be as pretty or as non-slippery as the splat mat, from my own experience they do the job.
3. Baby Led Weaning High Chairs
Most parents who took this approach to weaning can attest that the Antilop high chair from IKEA is one of the baby led weaning must haves. It is light, easy to take apart and, probably two of the most important aspects, it’s very easy to clean and budget-friendly.
*you can get a support cushion for your Antilop if you think that it will help your baby sit more comfortably in the chair.
A good alternative to high chairs, especially if you don’t have much space is a booster seat that can be placed directly on a normal chair. They usually have a removable tray so the child can either eat at the table or off the tray.
The booster seat is compatible with most dining chairs and the straps ensure absolute safety.
One advantage to this type of baby chair is that its small size allows easy storage and transport.
The first stage in baby led weaning is for babies to grab the food with their hands. Once they have mastered this and managed to get some motor control it’s time to introduce them to cutlery.
I just love the baby led weaning utensils from EzPz for a few reasons: they are designed to fit perfectly in tiny, chubby hands, they are made of a non-slip material with round, fat handles that makes grasping easy. They also have sensory bumps and raised rims on the handles.
The quality of these utensils is amazing and, really, all the products from EzPz are great without breaking the bank.
Tip: My son has always loved eating soups. For a while, he drank the liquid straight from the bowl and then ate the solid parts with a spoon. But soon he wanted to eat soup like us. But he’d get very frustrated because by the time the spoon reached his mouth most of the content was gone. The solution: little measuring spoons. Because they are deeper than a regular spoon more soup will make it to the hungry little mouth.
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5. Baby Led Weaning Bowls and Plates
One piece of advice to avoid flying plates full of food is to get suction bowls and plates. Best invention ever!
- EzPz Bowls
If you want the best quality products, designed by pediatric feeding specialists then take a look at the selection of baby led weaning bowls on EzPz, one of the leading company for baby and toddler mealtime products.
There are a few options, depending on your child’s age:
Plates ( all the plates have a few compartments for ):
All the mats and bowls have powerful suction and will fit most high chair trays.
6. Baby Led Weaning Cups
Baby led weaning encourages complete independence in babies not only when it comes to feeding but also drinking. Like with everything new, transitioning from a baby bottle or breast to a cup can be challenging. The sippy cup makes this step easier and natural.
The good thing about this type of cup is that it has a controlled flow and a no-spill silicone spout.
Out of all the cups that we had, the Munchkin 306 Training Cup is hands down my favourite (and my son’s). The material it’s made of is high quality, the 360º drinking edge prevents accidental spills, the specially designed rim supports healthy dental health and normal muscle development in the mouth. After your child is done drinking, the cup automatically seals so there will be no mess.
The Munchkin 360 Cup made our transition from baby bottles to big boy cups smooth and easy.
Some kids prefer drinking off little cups with a straw. This weighted Straw Trainer Cup from Munchkin ensures increased stability and the handles are perfect for little hands.
Useful Books for parents
- Baby-Led Weaning, Completely Updated and Expanded Tenth Anniversary Edition: The Essential Guide―How to Introduce Solid Foods and Help Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater by Gill Rapley PhD and Tracey Murkett
A book written by Gill Rapley, the person who introduced the world to an easy, common sense and enjoyable type of weaning. Here you will find all the answers to the many questions that you probably have and get all the essential information that you need on baby led weaning.
I think that before reading the various opinions and experiences (which, of course, you will) on the internet you should read this book first. It explains in easy terms what baby led weaning is, how it works, everything you need to get started, what food to give your baby and what food to avoid, about allergies and much more.
2. The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook: Delicious Recipes That Will Help Your Baby Learn to Eat Solid Foods―and That the Whole Family Will Enjoy by Gill Rapley PhD and Tracey Murkett
Another must-read by the same authors as “Baby Led Weaning: The Essential Guide”, is this great cookbook.
You will get 130 recipes perfectly suited for baby led weaning. Not only that but most of the recipes perfect for the entire family so you won’t have to cook multiple dishes.
In addition to the recipes, you will also get advice on starter food, nutrition and food safety, tips on how to cut the food so it’s easy for the baby to grab it and eat it.
Pregnant? Here is a list of Baby Things to Buy Before Birth
OK, this is not a baby led weaning essential but oh my, it will make your life so much easier. This marvellous thing is a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, a steamer, a food warmer, rice cooker, yoghurt maker, it sautés and sears. So it does the job of 7 different appliances.
The Instant Pot will plain and simple give you back the time that you would’ve spent standing in the kitchen. Oh yes, and if you use the pressure cooking function it cooks food 70% faster than traditional cooking.
Baby led weaning has definitely worked for my little boy, and I will apply the same method with my daughter when she shows all the signs that she’s ready for weaning. I already have some baby led weaning essentials left from George but I will surely update the list with some of the items above.
These baby led weaning tools and accessories are meant to make our lives much easier and support our little explorers into their fascinating journey of discovering food, tastes and textures in a fun, relaxed way.