Since the little guy came into the world just over 8 months ago, I’ve had so many questions from readers, social media followers, and friends about nursing, feeding, and other topics related to infant health. I’ve decided to share more of my opinions and experiences, but also send my readers to other dietitians and health professionals who specialize in pediatrics!
While I have a post coming next week highlighting those professionals, I thought I’d start by sharing the products that are essential to feeding Cooper while trying to limit the mess as much as possible!
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
Sometimes we don’t use any products to help Cooper eat or try new foods…
And sometimes we don’t use the products we need and wind up with a mess like this! (We rarely let this happen any more!)
Back to the products: some of these I was lucky to have had other friends recommend or get for us, some are thanks to my new dietitian mom community, and a few you can thank Tim’s Shark Tank obsession for (he has a notes section on his phone of products from the show to get).
While I could probably do with less, I think it’s important to preface this post by saying I don’t like to have a lot of extra “stuff” around and I try to only buy things that we really need or will make our lives significantly easier. Some of these products I bought seconds or thirds of after realizing how great they were – I’ll let you know about that, too!
Any questions or other products you recommend? I’d love to hear, so leave a comment! Bonus points if it comes from a sustainable or eco friendly company 🙂
What I love about our high chair is that it’s sturdy and basically has 3 trays (they all stack on each other) so I don’t have to clean it every time he eats and we can let them pile up in the sink and clean once at the end of the day 🙂 It’s also able to change as he grows. There’s a removable pad behind his back so he’s more snug til he gets bigger and it came with a completely separate booster seat. Still not sure what our plans are, but if you have a toddler/small child the same time as a baby, it’s helpful this one product really gave you two!
Additionally, we don’t have a table he can eat at easily – it’s made of reclaimed wood, so there’s no suctioning his plate to our dinner table if we just used a booster or a more minimalist high chair.
If you’re looking for something more minimalist, I’ve heard great things about the Stokke baby high chair.
While I wouldn’t buy the bumbo seat again since we used it for such a short time as he was learning to sit up, some people do get the tray attachment and use that as the high chair, too. His legs are just too chubby to fit in the seat!
Products for Baby Led Weaning
Here is one of Tim’s most proud shark tank finds. They’ve got plenty of copy cats out there for a bit cheaper, but I can’t speak to the quality since we were lucky enough that a good friend bought us his first mini mat. They’re made of food grade silicone which suctions to the surface of their tray or most tables. They can also go right in the microwave or dishwasher!
While you can purchase on Amazon, they do have free shipping for all US orders on their site, which is where I purchased his two mini bowls. And yes, these are mini because there’s a bigger version that may be more appropriate for small kids called the Happy Mat. Their Care Bear version looks pretty cute, too.
These are the best (pre) spoons for baby led weaning/self feeding! Instead of a spoon which they have a hard time using correctly and getting all of the food off of and into their mouth on their own, this has the food (such as oatmeal, mashed potato or a purée) stick to the utensil on all sides and however it goes in his mouth he’ll be eating some.
There are some foods that I’m a little less comfortable just placing in front of Cooper with baby led weaning, such as chickpeas and peas. This feeder lets me put them in so that he can still self-feed without me worrying about choking. I can also put pieces of smoothies and purées that I’ve frozen. This was a recommendation from a dietitian friend who likes these better than the mesh feeders. I just took her word for it so do not have personal experience comparing to the mesh versions.
This was the very first product I used for the little guy other than his high chair and bib! It’s a great way to introduce spinach or other greens since they can get stringy. So, mixing with fruit and some breast milk in a blender gives it to him in a form that after frozen, can be self-fed. It’s also the only way he wanted to eat when his first 2 teeth were coming in.
It can be tough to pick up food, and even harder to not drop it, especially early on when motor skills are developing. This chopper is great for sweet potatoes, squash and other veggies to give ridges for baby’s little fingers to grab around.
When I make smoothies for Cooper to put in the popsicle molds, there is almost always some leftover. So, I just add it to this mold and can cut it in half to add to the Boon Feeder as a part of his meals. Of note: if you fill more than 3/4 full, the top will not stay snug on the tray.
Both our niece and our good friend’s son were using this cup so we went with their recs and are happy we did! At 6 months, Cooper was already interested in drinking from our glasses and would take sips with our help. Now at 8 months he has been drinks from these cups independently for close to a month. The best part is that the silicone 360 top only lets water out when he sips from it/puts pressure on it. Otherwise, water won’t spill even when he throws it off of his high chair tray or tips it upside down.
I don’t have this yet since it releases Nov 30, but I am getting an email notification as soon as they’re available and ordering right away. I watched a video on Facebook about this that another dietitian posted in a group I belong to. It was invented by a pediatric occupational therapist along with EzPz and is basically an open 2 ounce cup that’s easy for baby to hold and put up to their mouth so they can learn to sip drinks on their own. Versus the 360 we have him using now, this will teach him not to tilt the cup back too far and teach him how to put his hands around the cup, too. I’ll still send the 360 to daycare and use it in at restaurants for awhile, but will opt for this at home whenever we have the time to be attentive with helping him drink.
Since long finger shaped pieces are perfect for babies to pick up when learning how to self-feed, these molds are perfect for a no sugar added muffin recipe (like these banana muffins sans the maple syrup). They aren’t meant for babies, and rather for “fancy biscuits” as you can see, but after searching for a long while this is the best and most economical option I was able to find.
Products to Reduce the Mess
WOW, is this one essential. A big thanks to my friend Jordan who sent us our first one when Cooper was getting ready to start solids. We ordered more before he started having meals at daycare, too, because I wanted to reduce the mess they were dealing with and limit outfit changes as much as possible! Admittedly, it was a tad big at 6 months and still is since it’s designed to be for 6-24 months, but even with that it’s still an essential item for us!
Since we are having Cooper self feed, there are some meals where a lot of food ends up on the floor. I realize having a dog would be a fantastic solution, and while I’d love to rescue one, we just don’t have the time a dog would require right now, so a splat mat it is. You just lay this under the high chair or eating area and then can easily shake it off outside or over the sink after each meal. If there’s wet/sticky food that lands on it, you can rinse it off or throw it in the washer with all baby’s bibs, burp cloths, and clothes that have spit up and drool all over them. 🙂
Products for Daycare / School
One of my favorite products for Cooper happens to be a freebie that I received at a nutrition conference from the CA Walnut board (not sponsored). I searched and searched, and really think this is an identical product! What’s great is that when collapsed, it fits the perfect amount of food for him now and as he gets older I will use it expanded to fit bigger portions. Only on a rare occasion do I also need another small container for one of his breakfast or lunch items.
I actually ordered one so that we could have two, since Cooper is at daycare 3 days a week it’s easier to just throw them in the dishwasher versus hand clean things every night! Now having two in the rotation, the dishwasher is run before we have to reuse one again. And when he’s a bit older, we will use one for his breakfast and one for his lunch.
The EzPz mat goes to school with him each day, too so the teachers can transfer his food to it from the container mentioned above and the mat can suction onto the table reducing the mess for them.
As I mentioned above, the bumkins long sleeve bib is essential for school to keep outfit changes to a minimum and to help keep the teacher’s sanity.
Another Shark Tank find, these are the bottle and sippy cup labels that every kid in daycare will have! We ordered two sets of them as soon as he was born and we knew his name.