The First Things You Need For Feeding Your Baby (That Aren’t Food)
Sometime after your baby can sit up, usually around the 6-month mark, you will begin to contemplate feeding them “solid” foods—though calling it solid is generous, as most people don’t actually begin with anything solid; it’s all purees and mushes to start. Whether you choose to start with pureed baby food or decide to try making solid food less, uh, solid—and I’m going to talk about that here in a bit—you’re going to need a few things to get started.
In a pinch, any cup, bowl and spoon will do, of course, and your baby probably won’t notice. But I tried enough different options to emerge with some preferences, mostly based on durability because this stuff will get used several times a day, thrown on the floor, and washed over and over. Here are my favorite feeding tools for babies.
Gerber Graduates Rest Easy Spoons
I tried all sorts of spoons before randomly buying these over a year ago. The Gerber Graduates Rest Easy Spoons ($3) are my favorites because they’re cheap, durable, and dishwasher safe. My daughter could hold onto them well, even in the early days; and just as advertised, you can rest them on a flat surface—with food in them—and they won’t roll away. My daughter is nearing two and she uses them every day, and we’re still on the first five-pack.
NUK Learner Cup
Cups are more important than spoons. It takes a real development of skills for a baby to learn to hold onto a cup, get it to its mouth, and actually drink something, especially as they’re so used to a nipple or bottle that they might not see any reason to bother trying. You need to find what works for your baby. I scrounged around drugstores and websites forever, until I saw the NUK Learner Cup ($8) that my friend had. This was the cup her child latched onto, first successfully drank out of, and continued to use for months. The handle pops off for when your baby gets older and doesn’t need handles to sip.
I love these Bumkins SuperBibs ($16) so much that I wish I had never bothered with cloth ones. Made of polyester, they rinse off easily in the sink, and I always dry them on the dish rack. But they’re also machine washable and durable as hell. I’ve had 6 of them for over a year and they’re not showing any signs of giving up yet.
Beaba Soft Bowl
Here’s one recommendation not based on durability! I love these Beaba bowls ($13 for 3) because they are, for some reason, sort of hard for babies to topple over easily. They’re the right combination of tacky rubber-like substance and weird shape. They hold a nice amount of food but are still shallow enough for a young baby to try self-feeding from. They’re good-looking and they also hold up really well, but do not put them on the lower rack of the dishwasher (Note: To be fair, I’m pretty sure the instructions warn against doing just this). I warped my first one the first time I washed it. Lesson learned. Number two is still going strong.
Beaba BabyCook Pro
Plenty of people will tell you not to get a baby food steamer, that you will almost never use it, or only use it for a short period of time. However, even if you plan on only using jarred baby food, your baby will move on to eating some of what you eat really quickly. From around 5-months old, I made my daughter’s food when we were home and gave her store-bought baby food if we were out. And I found the Beaba BabyCook Pro ($150) to be versatile and useful on a daily basis. This one steams a small amount of food in 10 minutes or less, and it purees it in seconds. We still use our daily, simply because it is quick, it cleans up fast, and it shuts itself off so you never have to worry about forgetting something on the stove. There are also cheaper options that I’m sure do just as good of a job. However, if you do get this one, know that their customer service is great and they replaced parts for mine twice already. (Like I said: we use it constantly!)
Finally, you don’t need to read a book about feeding your baby, right? You actually don’t—and I never intended to. My pediatrician told me to feed our daughter whatever we ate, simply mashed up, avoiding only honey until she was older than a year. Most pediatricians say that these days.
However, I will be eternally grateful to the woman who recommended I read Baby-Led Weaning ($11).This book essentially makes the argument that babies—even from the earliest days—don’t really need their food pureed. They can handle real food (from a somewhat limited list, cut into good and properly shaped and sized chunks). It’s useful, if only to allay your fears about choking, even if you don’t go with the approach 100-percent of the time. (And I didn’t.) It helps you to see what introducing your baby to food really is: one of the best experiences of both of your lives.