Weaning Essentials Part 1: What's Helpful Day 1: Weaning Essentials Part 1

Weaning Essentials Part 1: What's Helpful

A lot of parents ask our experts for recommendations of baby-friendly products or props that can be used during a family’s weaning journey. Today, we will look at just that. However, please remember these 3 things before you read this article:

1) Babies outgrow things very quickly, so take a call depending on what’s most comfortable and affordable for you.

2) If you and your baby can manage with what you have at home (or hand-me-downs), there’s nothing like it!

3) The most helpful and valuable thing you can offer your baby is your presence and loving attention. Being present in the moment is tough for parents as they juggle different responsibilities within the home and outside, but if you can put aside everything and take a genuine interest in your baby’s mealtime experiences, your baby will sense your deep, loving presence and automatically have a very positive weaning experience! No other prop or accessory can replace your presence.

What’s Helpful to Have in Your Weaning Toolkit

That said, let’s see what are some of the items you can choose to keep in your weaning tool kit. This can differ from parent to parent, so see what works for you, your lifestyle, your budget, and your needs!

1) High chair/booster seat

A good high chair or booster seat is a very good investment before your baby starts solids. And it is necessary no matter which weaning approach you choose. High chairs allow babies to sit in one place in a steady, upright position. As mentioned earlier, babies should not be fed when they’re moving about or lying down, as that can result in choking.

Babies require a good sitting position – remember the “90 90 90” rule? When babies are sitting in their high chair,

  • 1. their back is straight at 90 degrees,
  • 2. their hips are at 90 degrees, and
  • 3. their knees are at 90 degrees.
  • And, their feet should be on a footrest or on the floor straight down, not dangling in the air.

    When you’re buying a high chair, look for:

  • Adjustable footrest (avoid chairs that don’t have a foot rest)
  • Straight back with no reclining position
  • Tray should be preferably removable (as your baby grows, this will be helpful)
  • Chair should not be too big, as that will not give the baby stability.
  • Chair allows your baby to maintain the 90-90-90 position mentioned above
  • Harness is good to keep younger babies safe and in place
  • Easy to clean
  • Should you buy a booster seat?

    If you’re a family that enjoys eating your meals while sitting on the floor, then a booster seat would be great for your baby (compared to a high chair).

    2) Cup

    Learning to drink out of an open cup is an important developmental milestone for your little one. The best kind of cup you can buy for your baby is:

  • an open cup or
  • a straw cup
  • Using an open or straw cup will help babies learn and master a skill that they will need for life (as they move to drinking from regular cups or glasses as they grow up).

    Avoid buying a sippy or 360 degree cup.

  • The skill needed to drink/suck water from a sippy cup (the way the baby moves their jaw or mouth) is a short-term skill and will not serve the baby once they grow up.
  • Evidence shows that sippy or 360 degree cups have a negative effect on the baby’s oral motor development; if a baby continues to drink in this manner, it can seriously impact their motor development.
  • When you’re buying an open or straw cup, look for:

    open cup

  • Should be small and open, easy for the baby to hold
  • Should be able to hold 30-60 ml of liquid at a time
  • BPA free and easy to clean
  • A weighted base (heavy) can ensure it does not topple over easily
  • Straw cup

  • Should be small in size (can hold 30-60 ml liquid and not more)
  • Preferably without handles
  • Straw should be short in length and soft; it should be not very thin but not very big as well (if it’s too thin, baby will struggle to suck water; if it’s too thick, too much water will get into their tiny mouth)
  • A note on straw cups

    Straw cups or glasses tend to come with a valve, which helps avoid water leakage. However, for babies who are just starting this drinking or sipping journey (6 months), we suggest buying straw cups without the valve, so they can learn to suck easily. Once they learn this skill, they can move onto straw cups with valves.

    What material cup should you buy?

  • Stainless steel: Traditionally in India, stainless steel glasses are used, and this is alright for babies, as long as it’s a small sized glass with a rim.
  • Silicone: Small-sized silicone cups or glasses too are good.
  • Glass: Short cups/glasses made of glass are also good to use. However, ensure the glass is thick or heavy, so when your baby holds it, it encourages their proprioceptive input (sensory input to activate the joints and muscles to become more responsive).
  • 3) Mat

    Consider using under the table mats when your baby starts weaning. This is because meal times will be messy and placing a mat will help you clean up faster afterward.

    So what can you use as a mat?

  • simple plastic mat
  • plastic tarp
  • plastic shower curtain
  • splat mat
  • Place this mat under and around the high chair or feeding area, so that you can clean the spills and mess more easily after.

    4) Spoon

    Let’s look at the right spoon for your baby.

    Whether you choose to go for spoon-led or baby-led weaning, the size of the spoon should be small enough to fit into your baby’s mouth. Which is why the regular steel spoons we use for eating will not be suitable for small babies.

    If you’re encouraging baby-led weaning, use a spoon that:

  • is wide and short
  • has a thicker handle for a better grip
  • has soft tips so it’s easier on their gums
  • is BPA free (silicone is a good material; avoid stainless steel as it can be hard for the baby’s mouth and gums)
  • Small babies hold spoons using their entire fist, as they’re learning the various ways to grab and grasp objects. That’s why spoons with short and thick handles are important.

    Try a “groovy spoon.”

    If your baby is yet to get comfortable holding a regular small spoon, no sweat at all. Try a small groovy spoon with a thick handle for the first month or so. It has a great shape with grooves that can easily hold solid food and can help with self feeding. E.g. num-num spoon or similar spoons that you can find in your city. It also helps babies get confident with self-feeding.

    Once your baby can successfully bring a groovy spoon to their mouth, you can move them onto a short, thick-handled spoon.

    5) Plates and bowls

  • Suction plate: A good suction-bottomed plate is a good purchase, as there’s less chance of the plate tipping or slipping.
  • Especially in baby-led weaning, a suction plate placed on the table of a high chair will prevent the plate from moving around. This gives your baby a stable space from which to eat.

  • Bowls: A bowl is a great option too if you want to serve your baby thick, scoopable foods. With both plates and bowls, just make sure there’s a sufficient rim around the edge, so your baby can use the edge to scoop up or pick up the food easily.
  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel plates and bowls that you have at home are also fine to use for your baby. The only issue may arise as these utensils may easily tip over or slip without the suctioned bottom.
  • Planet-friendly options: If you like, opt for sustainable materials like steel. Also ensure BPA-free silicone materials when buying utensils for your baby.
  • 6) Bib

    The main reason parents use bibs is to protect the baby’s clothes. Having said that, you can avoid a bib by dressing your baby in old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty or opt for no clothes (your baby will be a happy camper!). Also, remember, a lot of babies dislike bibs and may try to remove them!

    If you want to buy a bib:

  • choose a silicone one that has a kind of food catcher at the bottom
  • get a coverall bib – which is a long-sleeved shirt that covers the child from top to bottom.
  • get the bib that’s like a smock, which covers the baby, the feeding tray, and the high chair!