So you've decided to try baby led weaning with your little one. Great! Here's a quick dietitian-approved guide on the tools you need to get started with baby led weaning to make it safe, fun and easy.
After successfully using the baby led weaning approach to transition my child to solid food, and having started the journey with my second, I've learned a lot about how to make the process a little easier on you (the parent or caregiver), which I think we could all use, right? The great thing about baby led weaning is it's so simple, so you truly don't need a lot to get started. No jars, no special baby food making equipment, and no pouches are necessary! You just make meals for your family and let baby join in on the fun! That said, there are a few things that will make your life easier when it comes to starting baby led weaning with your little one. Here are my picks:
(For a refresher on what baby led weaning is and how to know if it's right for you, head to this post about Benefits of Baby Led Weaning.)
Must-Have Tools To Make Baby Led Weaning Easier
While you won't need all the equipment you would for making pureed baby food (another great thing about BLW!) there are a few tools that will make your baby led weaning journey easier. Here is what I used with Queen C, and what I recommend for parents starting baby led weaning:
Born To Eat - I highly recommend this book, written by two dietitians passionate about raising confident, adventurous, body positive eaters. It's such a great tool, complete with everything from the basics of baby led weaning, to the nutritional aspects of feeding your baby, to sample meals and snacks for a variety of stages. It's a total confidence booster, and a must-have if you're even thinking about going the BLW route.
High Chair - Baby led weaning or not, every little one is going to need a high chair. Since BLW can be messy, I prefer one that has a removable pad and is easy to wipe down. The one we have is recalled (though I still love it), but is very similar to this one linked.
Pocket Bibs - I love love love silicone pocket bibs! They catch a lot of the spills, and make it easier to pick up any food that might have missed baby's mouth and put it back on her tray. We use them for every meal, and take them with use when we go to restaurants too! The silicone ones are also dishwasher friendly - yay!
Soft Spoons - Even though you won't be spoon feeding baby, there will still be things like yogurt or oatmeal that you will need to load onto the spoon and then hand it to baby. My favorite are these soft silicone spoons by Beaba. The end is just the right depth so that babies can easily get the food off, and it's a great size and shape for their little hands to hold. They're also nice and soft so they are nice for teething babies to chew on.
Silicone Suction Plates and Bowls - Babies love to pick up their plates with food still on them. That's why I love these silicone dishes with suctions on the bottom. They stick to the high chair tray, the table, or just about anywhere, making mealtime much cleaner. I also love that I can toss one in my purse for when we go out to eat, because our little one especially loves to turn over restaurant plates. I have this little set of plate, bowl, spoon, and cup, and they have all been wonderful!
If you're pulling baby's high chair right up to the table, the EZPZ mat is also a great option with a built-in divided plate that can stick right on the table (or the high chair tray if it fits).
EZPZ Infant Training Cup - this is great open cup developed by a SLP for training babies to use an open cup. It's soft silicone and just the right size! Elk and Friends Straw Cups - I Iove these stainless steel and silicone straw cups that can be used into toddlerhood.
And more tools that aren't really necessary but may be nice to have…
Travel High Chair - while not necessary, a travel high chair makes life easier if you're on the go a lot. That way, you're never without a place to put baby during a meal out. We have this one that can fold up and easily attaches to any table or counter top, and it's been so great to keep in the car for when we might need it, such as the rare restaurant that doesn't have high chairs or at friends' and family members' houses.
Mesh Feeders - These little feeders made my mom more comfortable with feeding our babe solid food at the beginning. Put soft foods like banana inside, or frozen fruit for teething babies. They're a little less messy and fun for baby to hold on to, plus great for sore gums when you add frozen fruit! A Splat Mat - Many parents love splat mats for placing under high chairs. They catch (most of) the food that will inevitably fall on the floor. You might really need one if you have carpet or new floors under your table. For us though, we ended up putting the splat mat away because our floors are pretty indestructible and it's easier for us to just wipe up the floor after meal time (or have a dog come in and clean up the mess!). I love that they are machine washable though, and will definitely use it in the future for messy crafts and such!
Tiny Glass Containers - I received these glass baby blocks (meant for pureed baby food) for a shower gift, and though I donʼt make purees, I do use these tiny containers all the time! They're the perfect size for storing any leftovers from baby's meal that you can serve later, without taking up a lot of space in the fridge. With BLW, your child may or may not eat a lot at mealtime, so it's nice to be able to save food for later to help with food waste.
I hope this list has helped you on your road to baby led weaning. It's such a fun and exciting journey! What questions about baby led weaning do you have? I'd love to answer them in the comments or in a follow-up post!