Moving beyond breast milk or infant formula toward a full menu of foods is quite a process. Though babies continue to get most of their nutrition and calories from milk or formula for the whole first year, learning to enjoy different tastes and textures is a foundation for a lifetime of eating. No pressure or anything, huh?
This past weekend, my five-month-old had his first sweet taste of banana. The experience did not resemble what it looks like when an adult human eats a banana by any stretch of the imagination. I had pureed some overripe banana with breast milk and spooned the gooey brown concoction into his happy, drooling mouth. He was confused but apparently also delighted because he kept grabbing my hand in anticipation of more. (Therefore all photos of a baby enjoying fruit for the first time include my big hand in his face.)
There is another school of thought on starting solids these days. Have you heard of child-led weaning? If we had followed this method, we would have waited a few more weeks for Sawyer to sit upright unassisted. He would have been presented with chunks of banana on a high chair tray for his inspection. As a curious baby, he would put the pieces in his mouth — or try to — and be rewarded with a real banana experience. When babies start eating around the six-month mark, they are more capable of chewing and self-feeding.
Whether you pursue a menu of tiny real foods, well-blended slushies or a combination, there are a few key tools of the trade.
- Somewhere for baby to sit. I like the kind of seat that can attach to my regular kitchen chairs or a highchair with a very slim profile. I also require as many washable parts as possible. Tray in the dishwasher and fabric in my washer? Perfect. Consider whether you’ll want a seat that’s high, low, or adjustable. Do you need a tray?
- Mini spoons and forks. Small mouths need small utensils. I am particular about my preferences. Some foods and eaters call for narrow spoons while others do better with a deeper scoop; some models of spoon clip right onto squeezable pouch baby food. Forks that look like sporks do not properly stab food.
- Dishes. Look for dishes that are sturdy and non-breakable if junior will be self-feeding anytime soon. I love this BabyBjorn set that we’ve had for five years now. There are also so many cute choices.
- Cooking gear. If you’ll be making your own baby food, I suggest investing in a Babycook or purchasing similar components separately.