Baby Led Solids or Baby Led Weaning?
Really they are the same thing but I prefer the term Baby led solids over Baby Led Weaning for the reason that commencing solids is not really an indicator for complete weaning from milk and nor should it be. All babies require milk whether it be Breast Milk or Artificial Baby Milk (Infant Formula) until they are at least 12 months. You may have heard the phrase “Food is Fun before they are One” – and it is true. Before 12 months, eating is all about learning how to use the mouth and teeth and tongue to manipulate food and figure out what the baby likes and doesn’t like. Many Breastfed babies who are introduced to solids this way will continue to have a strong reliance on Breastmilk for the first three to four months of eating so. The key thing to remember when you are first starting out is that it doesn’t really matter how much goes in initially – it is all about learning for the bub!
I am going to do a series of posts on Baby Led Solids followed by a range of ideas and recipes on how to cook so that your food is baby led solids friendly and fuss free.
I said fuss free – not mess free!
I’m going to start the series by talking about Mess because lets face it – Baby Led Solids is messy! Across the series I will also touch on the safety aspects of Baby Led Solids, Dealing with Eating Out, How to approach Baby Led Solids and more! But for today I’m going to talk about the mess.
How do I deal with the mess?
The pic above of H-Boy when he was a baby is only a glimpse of how messy Baby Led Solids can be. He used to drop things on the floor, rub it in his eyes, run his hands through his hair – anything you could imagine really.
Needless to say we didn’t do bathtime before dinner 🙂
Initially I was a little pedantic and had a plastic mat down on the floor and was wiping his hands every 5 seconds. I gave those away pretty fast and learnt to just go with the flow of it all.
I found that having a good supply of old fashioned terry washers was the best thing to deal with the baby mess. I have around 12 – 15 of them and use one a day. In between meals I give the washer a good rinse out with hot water and leave it on a sunny windowsill to get some UV rays. At the end of the day I toss it in the washing basket.
As for clothes – I also invested in a large stockpile of bibs from The Reject Shop. They aren’t the cutest of bibs but they are big and cover most of the front of the baby. If he was wearing long sleeves I would roll his sleeves up to reduce the mess to a degree. As H-boy got older I bought a bib that had a scoop in the design that could catch the food that he dropped. I found this to be great with H-boy but it didn’t work so well for baby B – he was more interested in playing with the bib! The smock style bibs like in the picture above are great at keeping the clothes clean but I found the bib itself was difficult to clean.
I guess that depending on the menu you need to be prepared for a certain number of clothing changes. I would tend to feed them breakfast while they were still in their PJ’s, be prepared for a change after lunch and then not have a bath until after dinner.
The floor and the high chair were bigger issues for me than the baby when it came to the mess.
Initially I had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I was going to need to sweep and sometimes scrub the floor after every single meal. But I learnt pretty fast that weetbix set like rock when they dry on the floor and are much harder to deal with so it is easier just to leave bub in the high chair while you give the floor under him a quick wipe over. Needless to say having the high chair over tiles or wooden floors makes cleaning up a lot easier. If you had carpet I would suggest buying a large thick plastic sheet to put under the table. It is truly amazing the distance that babies can make some of that food travel!
If you are planning on taking the baby led solids route then ensure that you choose a high chair that is easy to wipe down. No fabric and minimal nooks and crannies is ideal because they really do take a beating in terms of food debris. I would normally wipe down the high chair with cleaning spray and a cloth after each meal. Occasionally I needed to take the whole tray off and wash it with soapy water – this was usually after we had food that had a tomato based sauce.
There is something amazing in the fact that you can’t get the red pasta sauce colour out of the high chair tray when you wash it in soapy water and yet when you come out the next morning it is bright and white again. We have a high chair with woven straps and these can get quite grubby. I give them a wipe down each day and every few weeks I chuck them in the dishwasher for a thorough clean.
Don’t be put off by the mess!
Baby Led Solids is fun for both you and the baby so don’t be put off by the thought of the mess. It is so tactile and a lovely sensory experience for the baby that the mess is entirely worth it. Just remember:
- Schedule bath time for after dinner
- Use terry washers to clean up the baby
- Choose bibs that cover a large portion of the baby’s clothing
- Choose a basic highchair with nowhere for the food to hide that is easy to clean
- Get used to the idea of cleaning up straight after the meal is finished
and remember – getting messy is half the fun!
::Daily Meditation:: Practice mindfulness when you are doing a mundane task like the washing up or the ironing.