Today, we’re talking about my three baby-led weaning essentials. In my previous post, we had a talk about why I love BLW. If I’m honest with you, there are some challenges. But what are they and how do you keep your sanity?
Basically, it’s Messy.
There’s no way around it: baby-led weaning is a complete disaster. Your baby’s hair will be a disaster. Their high chair will be a disaster. Your floor will be a disaster. I made the mistake of hanging white Ikea curtains in my dining room within reach of my twin boys during their first BLW days. Those were, of course, a disaster.
But of course they were! All of this probably goes without saying. You probably wonder how on earth a person can prep for this madness. Today’s post shares a few simple ways to prepare by highlighting my three baby-led weaning essentials.
One: Plastic Drop Cloths
Plastic drop cloths are entirely optional, but if you want to minimize clean-up, they’re a good idea. This is our go-to for protecting the floor, especially on broccoli nights.
Drop a piece of steamed broccoli on the floor. I dare you. You’ll see why my husband refers to them as bombs.
Anyway, when you’re ready to start the BLW process, simply cut a piece of plastic a few feet larger than the chair your baby is in and lay it on the floor. Set your child’s chair on top, and voila! Minimal floor clean-up. When baby is finished eating, take it outside, shake it out and fold it up to be used again. Or if it is a particularly messy night (spaghetti, anyone?), just toss it out and start fresh the next meal.
If you like this idea but prefer a more environmentally friendly, sustainable option, the Splat Mat is a great choice! Same concept, but you can wash and reuse it. My favorite thing about this option are the silicone dots underneath (nonslip grip!) and the ability to apply it to so many other scenarios, like picnics, paint projects and (my nemesis) PLAY DOH.
Two: Bumkins Sleeved Bibs for now…
Next on my list of three baby-led weaning essentials: Bumkins Sleeved Bibs! They’re waterproof, can be tossed in the washer AND dryer, have multiple uses aside from eating… they are fabulous.
I recommend at least two, possibly even three of them. If you send your child to daycare, make sure to buy one to send there as well. As I mentioned a few times already, this learning to feed yourself thing is a messy process. That cute outfit your baby is wearing? Yeah, it’s toast. TOAST. But this bib makes it all better.
Initially, your baby will probably be swimming in this bib. But that’s okay, because it ties at the neck (completely adjustable) and has elastic around the wrist. The excessive size also plays in your favor: it covers to their knees when sitting. Win!
Generally speaking, with this bib, you will get through a meal with your child looking quite presentable after the fact; though I can’t speak for their hair.
Also, here’s an insider tip: layer a really simple bib under the Bumkins bib. This will protect the collar of your baby’s shirt. Without, if there is a particularly “juicy” fruit that day, you’ll see evidence of it along the collar.
Another reason to love these bibs: you can wash them in the sink! After a particularly messy meal, throw it in soapy water and hand wash. It’s super simple, super convenient. What’s more: they dry extremely fast. It is no problem to wash these bibs in the sink at breakfast, let them air dry, and have them ready again in time for lunch. That said, they do go in the washing machine weekly (or more, depending on what is on the menu) just to give them a little deeper clean.
… And Later
I also love that these are so useful for literally years to come. Once your baby outgrows the need for their entire upper body to be protected while feasting, you can continue to use them for art, cooking, science experimenting… I still have all our Bumkins sleeved bibs and take them out for messy projects. They still look so good after all the food abuse they’ve taken!
Also, can we just talk about how CUTE the prints are? Like, ohmygosh, I think I need to come up with a reason to buy five new sleeved bibs for each of my kids ASAP cute. Plus Disney, DC Comics and Nintendo options? Ugh. So cute.
We have four kids and love this high chair enough to own four of them. The first was purchase was to begin BLW with our oldest. At the age of only two, her brothers started their own self-feeding journey. As a result: two more purchases. As our oldest outgrew her need for it, our youngest daughter was ready to start. Regardless, another purchase. This time, to keep in our van for impromptu use (picnics in the park, anytime we went to a family or friends’ home and needed a chair).
One can tell by sheer number of these babies we chose to purchase that the price is totally right. At under $30, the price point is so much more reasonable than the vast majority of high chairs out there.
A person really does want a high chair you can literally hose down as one of your three baby-led weaning essentials. You want something with NO fabric and as few nooks and crannies as possible. I know it’s not the cute, colorful or patterned cushy high chair you probably put on your registry and I’m being no fun. But when you’re trying to thread the safety straps through the cushion on that cute, avocado-smeared high chair to wash it for the hundredth time, you’ll be wishing you had a no-frills chair like this one.
Your baby will smash raspberry into the cracks, smear sweet potato along the sides and shove broccoli under their seat. You might as well make it as easy to clean up for you as possible. Get something you can take off the chair, put in the shower and let it be passively cleaned while you have a glass of wine and are just not up for the cleaning task.
Another thing I appreciate about this high chair is it can be used with the tray attached OR as a booster, pulled up to the table. When our kids are just starting out with baby-led weaning, we use the tray. However, as they learn to sit better and we worry less about them trying to escape their chair, we ditch the tray and pull them up to the table. It’s nice to have both options.
Lastly, I really love the ability to keep the high chair hidden. When you choose a free-standing high chair, it sticks out and screams, “A BABY LIVES HERE!” This high chair sits on a regular dining room chair, so it easily slides into the table and remains relatively unnoticed. This means less clutter; less clutter makes my mom brain rest much easier as I look around the house.
For baby-led weaning essentials, I only recommend three things to begin. No special baby spoons, no fancy blenders; just the real basics here. Don’t forget to pin this article for later so you can easily get back here for future reference!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by where to start, don’t worry! At first, I was too. One helpful thing to do might be to order this book. In my last post, I mentioned what a great reference it is. It’s super simple to locate answers to any questions you might have and provides great background knowledge.
But maybe you just don’t have the time to wait and want to know more now. In that case, I’ve got you covered with my FREE Starter Kit for Baby-Led Weaning! The kit includes awesome information on starting BLW, foods to avoid, three months of baby’s menu, and even a guide to prepare those new foods for baby. To top it all off, I also include a weekly meal planner to fill out for baby. This helps with organization keeps you ready to go. All of this will simplify the entire BLW process for you!
Super simple: just click HERE to get full access to it for free!