I was so nervous when my first baby started solid foods. I was so scared she wasn’t eating enough, she was trying foods too young or I wasn’t cutting it into tiny enough pieces. The more times I’ve lived through “starting solids” the more I enjoy it. Miles absolutely loves food and mealtime. I think his fun, laid back attitude about meals and eating comes partially from my more laid back, less paranoid attitude this time around. I’ve loved watching him hit different mealtime milestones from his first solids to using a spoon. It also cracks us up when he likes a food so much he tries as hard as he can to steal extras off his brothers highchair tray or his sisters’ plates!
Here are a few fun hacks for mealtime milestones:
1.Cut food into spear shapes
While learning to pinch and pick up small foods is important, it’s also hard for babies to do right away. It’s also not necessary to do with all of their foods. I also used to cut everything into teeny tiny pieces so they wouldn’t choke. When I first heard about cutting foods into spear shapes for “first foods” I thought it sounded crazy and unsafe. The more I read about it, the more I realized it was really the way to go. It allows little ones to feed them self and try more solids. Picture cutting things into the size/shape of a french fry. Our favorite spear shape foods (as young as 6 months) are bananas, cooked sweet potatoes and cooked carrots. This saves time and keeps the baby much more engaged in solids when they are little babies (in my opinion). See below.
2. Cover Foods for Grip
Whether in spear shapes or pieces, some foods are tricky for little hands to pick up because they are so slippery! I remember telling a friend that Tommy loved feeding himself bananas but he would get frustrated because they kept slipping out of his hands. She suggested coating the banana in some sort of grain. I use smashed up Cheerios (see above), but I believe some people use seeds like flax (just make sure they are not allergic/ are OK for babies). We always have Cheerios on hand and smashing them takes seconds. I would just sprinkle them on their high chair tray or right on the food. It made it SO much easier to pick up the foods. I’ve done it with bananas, steamed carrots, etc.
3. Thicker Consistency For Spoons
I made the mistake of trying to let my little ones try a spoon for the first time with a very thin yogurt and/or baby food. It was so runny that there was no way anything would stay on the spoon by the time it got to their mouth. I find that the thicker the consistency without being pieces (because those are hard to balance on the spoon!) the easier it is to learn. One of my favorites is Greek yogurt or oatmeal. If you use a yogurt that isn’t as thick as Greek yogurt, you could also add in some of the smashed Cheerios. That makes a great consistency to pick up with a spoon!
4. On the Go Fruit
A friend recently told me about this hack: for fast fruit on the go, but pre-cut frozen fruits. Take them on the go and by the time your little one is ready to eat, they are defrosted and already cut up. It makes a great toddler snack!
Along with trying new foods with the kids, I enjoy trying new mealtime accessories. I find that now all kids like the same sippy cups, spoons, etc and sometimes you have to try a few to see what they like. Also, I have found there are always neat new mealtime accessories coming out, so from one child to the next, we’ve discovered great new finds. Recently we tried out a number of OXO Tot products and were really impressed. Miles was not really into trying a spoon on his own, but really loves using the OXO spoon. I like that it comes with it’s own little case to take on the go.
I also like their Tot Glass Baby Blocks to store food in (and we’ve also used it as a little bowl at meal time). They are made of glass that’s thermal shock resistant. This means they can go directly from the freezer to the oven or microwave, so you don’t have to wait for food to defrost. We store Miles’ leftovers in them in the fridge and then they’re ready to be heated at the next meal.
The OXO Sippy Cup is great and (so far) has been totally leak proof. It’s valve is designed to be easy for liquid to flow when drinking, but is sealed tight when the cup is tipped, making it leakproof when it needs to be. The cup has also has training lid to mimic grown-up cups that can then be totally removed when your big kid is ready to use it as an open cup.
I also like the OXO Tot bib because it’s soft enough that it’s comfortable for the baby but hard enough plastic that it’s super easy to clean.
Happy Friday everyone and happy mealtime!
Disclosure: We were not compensated for this post. We did receive some OXO items for the purpose of review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.