Weaning is a wonderfully exciting time in baby's development - there are so many new textures, flavours and smells to explore! But how can we wean baby safely and effortlessly?
Well that's where baby weaning equipment comes in! In order to ensure you and baby have a fun time explore all these new foods, having the right tools will make your weaning journey so much easier and simpler (and maybe a bit cleaner!)
So what tools do we require? And how do we care for our baby weaning equipment? Do we need different tools at different weaning stages? And how can we prepare for weaning to ensure baby has a smooth transition from milk to solids?
Well let's dive into it!
The 3 different types of weaning
There are 3 main types of weaning that you can do with your baby. They are:
This method of weaning has become increasingly popular in recent years.
With baby-led weaning, you miss the puree feeding stage and start with soft finger foods at a later age.
The advantages of baby-led weaning are that your baby gets to control how much they eat, it helps to develop fine motor skills and is thought to develop a healthier relationship with food than spoon-fed weaning.
The only downside of baby-led weaning is that it can be quite messy!
This method of weaning is the long-standing method of starting your baby off with small amounts of pureed food and then moving on to more textured foods which is fed to them on a spoon by a parent or carer.
You then encourage your baby to use a spoon to feed themselves and finger foods are offered much later on.
Parents who find it hard to tolerate the mess of baby-led weaning are more likely to opt for this method.
A Combination of both
It is possible to mix the two methods of feeding. When your baby is showing signs of being ready for weaning, offer them small amounts of puree or cereal from a spoon and then move to a more baby-led weaning style as soon as you feel comfortable with them handling larger pieces of finger food.
Aim to not be feeding your baby by about 8-9 months. By this age, they should be capable of feeding themselves the majority of the time.
Obviously, there are certain foods such as yoghurts that are best fed with a spoon. So with foods such as these, encourage your baby to use the spoon themselves!
What are the 3 stages of weaning?
Most babies are ready for weaning at around 6 months of age.
Some babies will show signs of being ready to wean before this and some a little later, but the World Health Organisation recommends that you do not start weaning before the age of 4 months as your baby’s digestive system will not be mature enough to accept anything more complex than breast milk or formula.
There are three main stages of weaning that take place over a 6 month period during which you gradually introduce your baby to new foods and reduce the amount of milk they need to fulfil their nutritional requirements.
Hopefully, this will result in your baby being fully weaned by about 12 months of age.
Stage 1: 4-6 months
If you decide to opt for spoon led weaning then at around 4- 6 months of age you can start to introduce small amounts of pureed fruit and veg or baby cereal into your little one’s diet.
You should only add a couple of teaspoons after or halfway through a milk feed to begin with.
Once your baby is 6 months old they will be ready for baby-led weaning which means you can skip the puree phase and start weaning with soft finger foods from the beginning.
Stage 2: 6-9 months
Once your little one has mastered the art of eating purees of soft finger foods you can move onto more textured purees and a larger variety of finger foods. During this time you should start to gradually reduce their milk intake.
Stage 3: 9-12 months
By stage 3 you can start giving your baby a full spectrum of family foods with the aim that by 1 year of age they are able to eat most foods, have 3 structured meals a day and solid foods will now be their main source of nutrients rather than milk.
By this age, milk feeds should be reduced to three a day amounting to about 400ml of milk in total (which can now be given in a cup if you wish).
You can also start to encourage your little one to start using a spoon during this period, but finger feeding will most likely be the main way they choose to feed themselves.
You should avoid giving babies under 1 year of age honey, whole nuts, raw eggs, soft cheeses, shellfish, salt and sugary food and drinks.
How do you prepare a baby for weaning?
There are many little things you need to do in order to make your weaning journey as smooth as possible. Here are my 4 top tips:
Get the timing right
Knowing when to start weaning is important so you will need to know the signs to look out for that your baby is ready.
Parents and experts used to think that if your baby started waking more often at night that this was a sign they were ready to be weaned, which meant that many babies used to be weaned at 4 months...
However, it has now been realised that a baby’s digestive system is not ready for weaning until 6 months of age and by then they are more able to chew and swallow foods safely too.
If your baby is waking more at night during that 4-6 month window or they appear to be more hungry, try increasing their milk intake (either from breastmilk or formula) to bridge the gap until they are ready to be safely weaned.
Your baby is ready to be weaned when you can answer yes to most of the below questions:
1. Can they sit up in a high chair and hold their head up straight?
Your baby needs to be able to sit upright unsupported and hold their head upright so that food can be swallowed easily in order for them to be weaned.
2. Are they showing interest in what you are eating?
If your little one is showing interest in the food that you are eating and reaching out to grab it then it is a sure sign that they are ready to be weaned.
3. Can they pick up small pieces of food?
Obviously, your baby needs to be able to pick up any finger foods that you offer them otherwise they will just become frustrated.
4. Can they swallow food and not push it back out with their tongue?
Your baby needs to be able to hold food in their mouth, move it around and swallow it before they are ready for weaning.
Offer the right foods to start with
It is important that you offer your baby the correct foods when you start weaning as you do not want to put them off. Smooth purees from a spoon or soft finger foods are best. Using mesh feeders is also a good idea in the early stages.
Let them get messy
Allowing your baby to get messy when exploring new foods is a very good thing! Some parents will find this difficult, but letting your baby explore their food with their hands and fingers cultivates a healthy relationship with food.
Get the right kit
Make sure you have the right kit in order to get weaning off to a good start. The right high chair which makes your baby feel safe and supported is essential as well as the right bowls, spoons and bibs.
Also, make sure you have adequate floor coverings under the high chair to make clearing up easy and stress-free.
Keep reading to discover my baby weaning equipment list!
What baby weaning equipment do you actually need? The 15 essential tools!
Weaning is easy if you have the right kit.
Being prepared and making sure you have all that you need to wean your baby successfully will make the process so much easier. There are the basic essentials and then there are the nice to haves and luxury items.
1. The must-have essentials
- Comfortable high chair. This will ensure that baby doesn't get restless and is supported properly to be able to swallow and digest food.
- Cover all or pelican bib. A few bibs will help you keep your sanity when things get messy!
- Blender. A blender will become a staple in your household. From creating soups and purees, they are a very handy piece of kit for weaning and beyond.
- Several soft safety spoons. Safety spoons are vital for little mouths as they help your baby learn the motor skills to use cutlery without hurting themselves.
- A few suctioned bowls. We've all been there... knocking over a bowl of soup or yoghurt and spilling a mess everywhere is not a fun situation to have. Therefore, investing in a few suctioned bowls and plates will help to avoid these messes with baby.
- An ice cube tray for freezing food portions. Ice cube trays are fab for freezing soups, purees and yoghurt. These cooled treats are perfect for portion control or teething relief.
- Floor protection. Unless you have a very attentive dog, a floor mat or covering will safe you having to clean and mop after every meal!
- Trainer cups. Weaning your baby from a bottle to a cup is a vital skill baby will need to learn and doing it at the same time as weaning with food just makes sense.
2. The ‘nice to have’ bits
- Reusable food pouches. If you have the means, investing in specific baby food pouches can be very handy. They're easy to clean, lightweight and compact making them ideal for day trips, freezing and efficient fridge packing!
- Ice lolly moulds. Similar to the ice cube tray above, ice lolly moulds make fruit purees and yoghurt a fun treat for baby!
- Mesh feeders. Mesh feeders are a fantastic tool for both weaning and teething foods. If you can, investing in a few mesh feeders will be your secret weapon.
3. The optional fancy stuff
- Fun feeding plates. Funky designs on plates and bowls make mealtimes more engaging for baby, but they're certainly not a necessity!
- Baby food blender. A specific baby food blender can be very handy as they're small, easy to clean and at times, portable. But if you don't have the means to buy one a regular stick blender works just fine.
- Baby food steam blender. This tool is a compact gadget that will steam and blend your baby's food all in one place. They limit the number of pots and pans you have to use, but they do cost a few $$$! But, if you can, I think they're a very handy tool!
- Food flask. Food flasks are brilliant for years when looked after properly and will ensure baby's food stays warm whilst you're out and about.
Baby weaning equipment FAQs
Here are 3 questions about baby weaning equipment that I have been asked many times and I thought this would be the perfect place to answer them!
If you have any other questions about baby weaning equipment, be sure to send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can and I'll add them to this section to help other parents!
1. Do I need to buy a blender for weaning?
I would say that a blender of some kind is definitely an essential when weaning.
If you want to go ahead and buy a fancy blender specially designed for baby weaning then do so. However, if finances are an issue a normal stick or conventional blender will do just as good a job.
2. Do I need to sterilise my weaning equipment?
This all depends on when you start weaning.
If you have started weaning your baby before 6 months of age, you will need to sterilise weaning spoons and bowls. However, after baby has turned 6 months old, cleaning them in a conventional manner or in a dishwasher will be fine.
Please bear in mind that it is still recommended that you sterilise bottles and teats until baby is 12 months of age.
3. How many bibs do I need to buy for weaning?
This is a very personal preference, but I'd suggest at least 3. Therefore, one can be in the wash, one can be in a diaper bag and one can be in use or ready to go. This means you're not stressing about having to clean and dry a bib whilst baby is crying out for food!
Finally, just go with the flow! Weaning is such fun and you will learn to explore new textures, tastes and smells with your little one.
Try not to get too hung up on when they start weaning, but being prepared and having the right baby weaning equipment will certainly make life easier for you!
If you have any baby weaning equipment ideas that I haven't mentioned but worked amazingly for you, let me know via email at [email protected] and I'll add it to the list! This is a resource for all parents after all!
And that’s it! I hope this post has informed you about the variety of baby weaning equipment you require to get you started on your weaning journey! And be sure to look out for future posts coming soon for a more in-depth read about how to wean your baby successfully!
In the meantime, here’s a great video from the NHS interviewing parents and experts about their top tips for baby weaning!