With baby led weaning, it can feel like a lot of food goes to waste. But it doesn't have to! Here are my top tips for reducing food waste with baby led weaning.
Any time you're feeding babies and kids, it can feel like a lot of food is wasted. (You can learn more about the problem of food waste in this post.) Kids are notorious for eating one bite and leaving an almost-full plate. And with babies, especially with baby led weaning, a lot of food ends up on the floor (and on the walls, in the high chair, in baby's hair, on your clothes... the list goes on). But it's all part of the process as baby learns to use those fingers and develops self-feeding skills.
To be honest, baby led weaning can actually be less wasteful in the long run. Baby led weaning babies often develop the motor skills needed to feed themselves more quickly, meaning the mess (and food on the floor) is shorter-lived. You're also not making an extra meal just for baby 3 times a day. So really, not much is wasted if you're simply placing a bit of your food onto baby's tray. Just a tiny bit of leftover dinner can also translate into a full meal for baby, so it makes it more practical to save your own leftovers. And ideally, you'll continue to nurture adventurous eating and participating in family meals, no matter what is served, leading to less picky eating, which will translate to less wasted food eventually. But in the meantime, here are some ways you can reduce food waste when first starting solids with your sweet baby.
Tips For Reducing Food Waste With Baby Led Weaning
Only Offer A Little At A Time
Babies have tiny tummies. So especially in the beginning when not much food actually goes into baby's mouth, offer a very small portion. Just 2 noodles and one soft cooked carrot, for example, may be enough for a 6 month old. You can always put more food on the tray if baby is acting interested and hungry.
Use A Side Plate
This goes with offering just a little bit of food. Using a side plate, or a small plate with extra portions for baby, will save you multiple trips of getting up from the table to replenish baby's tray. And anything uneaten on it can be saved and served again! A side plate is also a handy 'no thank you plate', or somewhere to put your baby's rejects so they don't end up all over the floor and furniture.
Serve It Again
When it's safe and practical, you can serve uneaten food again. An untouched strawberry, shredded chicken or some uneaten scrambled eggs that haven't been mixed into other foods can all be place in the refrigerator and served again. I always like to save fruits and vegetables to serve again at the next meal. I love these tiny OXO Tot glass storage containers for saving baby-sized portions of leftover food.
Piggy backing off of the previous tip, you can alway repurpose food that goes uneaten. And no, that doesn't mean that you have to eat the leftover soggy Cheerios. Baby just might not be feeling the banana today, and that's totally fine. Freeze leftover bananas (or other fruit or veggies) to throw into smoothies. Or mash bananas and mix into oatmeal or muffins. I love making overnight oats with uneaten bananas, apples, or berries either for myself or for the kids.
Leftover meat or beans can be mixed into pasta or made into a quesadilla. Leftover avocado can be turned into guacamole. If you can find a way to re-use the food, do it!
Finally, as a last resort, you can always compost if you have the capacity. Any fruit or veggies that get thrown on the floor in our house now go into this nifty FoodCycler that turns scraps into quick compost. You can also give meat and fish rejects to dogs, if you have them. They will happily help prevent waste!
If you found this post helpful, I'd love for you to share with your mama friends!