It’s now been a few months since baby has been around and you finally think you have the hang of it. With some luck, your baby is sleeping through the night and you can change diapers with one hand. If you are a Dad, you’ve mastered the Baby Bjorn look can feed your baby a bottle of formula with the ease of an experienced veteran. And then, just went think you’re safe , someone tells you that your baby is ready for “solids”.
What do you feed a baby? How do you feed a baby?
Do I need to buy more stuff again?
Feeding baby seems to be a mix of science, hear say, wive’s tales, black magic with a very heavy dose of marketing. I will leave nutrition to the experts and stick to what I know best… STUFF.
Feeding baby: all the feeding gear we tried, tested, liked and hated
So here is my review of many of the feeding related crap items we purchased once we started our little one on the afore mentioned solids. I can’t speak for the things that we did not try or should have tried, but here is my honest view of what worked and what did not.
Starting out on “solids” is actually quite a misnomer
The first solids that babies are fed in western cultures is often rice cereal. If you’ve tried it, you know it’s rather nasty. It’s wet, it’s mushy, it’s pretty tasteless. But hey, you need to start somewhere.
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The pitch: “Squirt isn’t just a spoon; it’s a revelation. It takes baby food, removes the jar and the mess, packs it into a single utensil and with one squeeze—boom!”
Short report: Unnecessary clutter with short lifespan. Barely ever used it. Nothing a simple plastic bowl with cover and a spoon cannot do, and for longer.
Baby Says: “Seriously, papa. Seriously?”
Soon thereafter, baby graduates to fruit and vegetable purées. Not so exciting, but I actually enjoyed stealing a spoonful of mashed baby carrots or a simple homemade apple sauce without anything added. Our food is so complicated sometimes that it was nice experiencing simple vegetables in their naked and purest form once again.
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The pitch: “Mealtimes go a little faster when you feed your baby with the right utensils”
Short report: These spoons have been a kitchen workhorse for the past 18 months. They’ve lasted quite well and are easy to wash. I wondered why I would ever need 6 (let alone a two sets of six), but we fed her different stored vegetables at meals and it was faster and more efficient to have individual spoons. The long handles are also quite good for bowls and jars. Not as handy as baby starts to feed herself, however.
Baby Says: “Oooh, so many colors I don’t notice the broccoli.”
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The pitch: “If you’ve had it with flying, tipped over bowls, we have good news.”
Short report: This three-pack of bowls joined the Munchkin spoons as the core of our feeding arsenal. The suction bottoms were great in keeping the bowls in place, but the the accompanying snap-on lids came in especially handy when on the go or when we stored leftovers in the fridge. The set contains three bowls of different sizes. They are dishwasher safe but not recommended for the microwave.
Baby Says: “Bowl throwing competition thwarted yet again!”
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The pitch: “Children will have fun learning to feed themselves.”
Short report: I thought concept of the perforated spoon holding in mushy food seemed like a genius concept. In practice, I found that that stuff generally stayed in place on regular spoons and these seemed a little on the large side. But the kiss of death was that our daughter never cared for them (or their curved handle) at all.
Baby Says: “Yawn, nex!”
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Item: Baby Bjorn Soft Bib
The pitch: “Helping babies eat solid foods with less mess”
Short report: The food trough catcher is particularly useful when they start to feed themselves or you have a “grazing” toddler walking around the house – saves from you from finding dropped surprises later. The bibs are quite large, so may not be that useful early on.
Baby Says: “Look, more food!”
Item: Munchkin Snack Catcher
The pitch: “Easy Access, No Spills.”
Short report: This is a great product. Whether around the house or on the go, it’s a great way for your toddler to snack on stuff without spilling the entire contents of the cup on the floor (once the food is out of the cup though, it’s fair game). Well designed and durable. The little one really likes these as much as I do. Don’t show them that you can take the top off, though…
Baby Says: “I want to be a product designer when I grow up!”
The pitch: “Allows your baby to enjoy lots of delicious foods without the choking risk.”
Short report: This is a very popular, “award-winning” product. Our baby never really took it and its useful life is pretty short. And that mesh can’t stay that clean.
Baby Says: “I keep chewing but I get nothing!”
Making your own baby food?
Making your baby food by steaming and purée-ing fruits and vegetables is a good way to save some money and have full knowledge and control of what your baby ingests. We considered purchasing the Beaba Babycook Food Maker (~US$150), essentially a steamer and a blender in one appliance, but decided against it considering you can easily achieve the same effect with a steaming basket and a blender while saving some counter space. Your baby will also get bored with mashed vegetables faster than you think so the product’s lifespan is relatively short and its re-usability questionable. That was a tough decision though; the Beaba was hard to resist.
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Item: Handblender and Ice Cube Trays
The pitch: Make your own food and store in the freezer
Short report: An immersion handblender is frankly a must have tool in any modern family kitchen. It’s great for making soups right in the pot – no spilling or scraping. Vastly more practical than a blender. We used it to purée vegetables on a regular basis and froze them in ice cube trays for easy preparation and ideal serving sizes. We would pick out different ones for each meal (e.g. one carrot, one spinach, one apple). “Specialized” baby food freezer trays are also found available for sale, but given that you will most likely going through the food relatively fast, regular ice trays will just do fine.
Baby Says: “That blending sound is one of my earliest memories.”
Verdict: AWESOME (and just use regular ice cube trays)
Getting baby’s drink on
One of the time things that we’ve gone through several of is the sippy cup and water bottle. There are many to choose from and we’ve gone through several. The traditional sippy/tippy cup should just be a decorative piece at this point in the evolutionary cycle but there are quite a few starter cups as well. We went through several types of water bottles as well in a relatively short amount of time. Keeping them from leaking is often an issue, especially when on the go. This is also an area where your child will start to express preferences (get used to it).
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Item: Traditional Heavy Bottomed Tippy Cup
The pitch: Rock it old school
Short report: These are cute decorative items and even come monogrammed, but pretty useless functionally. They are heavy and the hard plastic of the cap cracked when the cup was dropped.
Baby Says: “What’s next? Your old baby shoes?”
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Items: Baby Drinking Bottles Galore
We started with the Born Free Trainer Cup (first from left in the photo). I like the combination of the soft spout and handles as a nice transition from the straight baby bottle. The BPA free container was a nice plus although that’s pretty standard nowadays. The problem was that water leaked from the spout area. Perhaps I was doing it wrong, but it never worked right. Verdict: FAIL.
Based on what the other kids were using at the playground my daughter asked for the basic sippy cup, so we got the basic Avent model (second from left). This model did fine although the water flow is pretty light so she outgrew it over time. The cap holds tight, but when tipped over the water will still leak into the cap and would spill when you opened it (this is a typical issue with many training cups). Verdict: PASS
Looking for a more grown up model, we then got yet another bottle (third from left, but I forget the brand). Once again water still leaks into the cap unless you plug the spout with a small rubber piece (small accessories? FAIL). We’ve also tried the metal Eco Water Battle by Crocodile creek (sports drink style cap, which is good, but gave water a metallic taste which is bad, FAIL) as well as bottle
All in all, that easily US$50+ in water drinking paraphernalia and still not pleased!
The bottom line
Any one baby feeding product is not particularly expensive, and that’s the catch. The cost of these small ticket items do add up, however.
While some seem like great ideas, few are truly useful and many end up just being added kitchen drawer clutter. Go for items that will last more than just a month or two and don’t be charmed by all that colorful marketing!