Feeding kids, amiright? I had to develop an entirely new organizational system for all the feeding gear I’d acquired since having my oldest kid. And now the second one comes along and we’ve been doing baby led weaning from the get-go and I’ve managed to acquire even more baby-specific gear.
You do NOT need any specific gear for baby led weaning or even feeding kids in general. It’s just that certain items really do help minimize the mess and others serve as “training wheels” for the adult items your child will eventually learn to eat with.
In my experience, there are only three items that you absolutely must have for baby led weaning (and honestly, feeding little kids in general). They are:
A high chair. But you probably already knew that! This is the Ikea Antilop, which is much loved because it’s just so easy to clean and lightweight. I have actually dragged the whole thing over to my sink to rinse it off with the spray nozzle. You can also take off the tray and scoot the baby right up to the table. But of course almost any high chair will do. Look for one that allows your baby to sit upright rather than at all reclined. Sitting upright is important so that the baby can spit out pieces of food that are too big.
Pocket bibs. Such a lifesaver. I have heard excellent things about this Oxo Tot version but personally I invested in a stash of Tommee Tippee ones, which are cheaper but not quite as sturdy as this Oxo one.
A splat mat. This is the exact one that I have from the brand BogginHead. They come in squares and rectangles as well, but to me this circular version feels easier to manage. I fold it up like a taco and dump the contents right in the trash or compost.
These items are definitely helpful, too, but not necessarily must-haves. Personally I only have about half of them.
A silicone placemat. This one is preeeeetttty close to a must-have, and for good reason. It’s a plate the baby can’t throw on the floor! This Happy Mat from the brand Ezpz is the best, but take note if you have an Ikea Antilop high chair (above): you’ll want the ezpz Mini Mat, as it fits on the tray.
A sleeved bib, like this one from Bumkins, can help keep food off your baby and maybe reduce the number of post-dinner baths you have to give!
Silicone spoons are great for letting your baby explore foods like yogurt or hummus on her own. This brand is the ChooMee Baby Starter Spoon.
These are great for a slightly older baby who is learning to spear and scoop things. This brand is called Grabease.
You will find BLW enthusiasts who believe that ever bringing a spoon to your baby’s mouth is blasphemy. I am not one of them! I don’t spoon feed my baby often, but from time to time I use these Spuni spoons, which are ergonomically designed to work with a baby’s latch reflex. I use them for offering her pre-loaded thick purees and on rare occasions when I really don’t want her to get messy.
Babies can learn to drink from an open cup from as young as six months and giving them the opportunity to do so is important for their fine motor skill development. You can certainly use a shot glass but these Babycups are perfectly sized for little hands (and less breakable!)
As important as it is for babies to learn to drink from open cups, it’s not that practical for their everyday hydration needs until they’re a bit older. So I also taught my kids to drink from a straw and I regularly offer a weighted straw cup like this Munchkin one, which I find to be the best cup option for my baby to manage by herself.
Depending on how often you eat out or eat at other people’s homes, you may want a travel high chair. Those wooden restaurant high chairs don’t really have enough support for a very young baby. This Fisher Price booster seat is easy to keep in your car and give the baby a tray close to her body.
This travel high chair option from Inglesina screws right onto most tables. With my oldest, we often brought it to restaurants or even on distant trips when we knew there wouldn’t be a highchair at the destination. It folds up quite small, so it’s great for air travel. Now with my youngest we use it every day – it’s attached to our kitchen island so she can watch me and enjoy a snack when I’m working in the kitchen!
And of course, for the basics of how to get started with BLW, I highly recommend these two books:
Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett
Born to Eat by Leslie Shilling and Wendy Jo Peterson
Those are my top BLW gear recs. What’s on your must-have BLW gear list?
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