WEANING FOR CLEAN FREAKS
7 tips for when the 'ick' factor makes you freak. By Annie Ridout
Tips on how to wean your baby on to solids when you like it clean
Weaning. It sounds suspiciously like whining – and for good reason. For those not quite there yet, it refers to the period when you start introducing solids (proper food) into a baby's diet. But what should be a fun time experimenting with new flavours, textures and colours is often a time of unease, panic (‘Can my baby choke on puréed tomato?!’) and mess. Oh, the mess. Food gets everywhere: mashed-up banana on your shoes, avocado in your hair, pasta on the the ceiling.
It might sound funny but I am writing this with gritted teeth. Pre-weaning I was already putting on ten times as many laundry loads each week. I really didn't need yet more clothes to clean. So to save you some sanity I'd like to share seven hacks that will help to make the process simpler and – kiss the table - cleaner.
Pick your highchair carefully
Who cares about style and comfort? Let’s buy a highchair that’s easy to wipe down! No, really. Some have too many hard-to-reach grooves, which are – to the common germ-attracting morsel – a one-way ticket to party-time. And forget about cotton cushions – they’re a pain to wash and constantly look stained. Oh look, here’s a highchair with removable, wipe-clean pads.
Buy a wipe-down mat
Get a large wipe-down mat and put it under the highchair to collect any food that drops. Because food will definitely drop on the floor. And when I say ‘drop’, I mean ‘be thrown’. I use a fruit-print vinyl tablecloth from my local market folded in two; it cost a few quid. This one’s perhaps a little less garish.
So long, suckers
You can get baby bowls with suction pads underneath that stick them to the highchair tray. What a world it is to live in! If you’re new to weaning you might not have experienced the bowl being flung repeatedly on to the floor by a frustrated/excited baby so you’ll just have to trust me that this is an absolute winner.
Bibs are your best friend
You can get mini wipe-clean bibs, which save on washing but also mean that you can wipe them down with a wet wipe when you’re out and about. Either that or carry a food-encrusted cotton bib around all day, and find the knowledge of it festering away in your nappy bag strangely unsettling. You can even go the whole hog and get a full-on jacket bib. Get the most of your bibs by putting them on your baby after you have strapped her in. This saves fabric straps from any pear-related humiliation.
All good in the hood
If you’re feeding your baby before work and need your clothes to stay clean, have a hoodie on hand to catch any mis-aimed baby rice, and for your baby to rub their face across when you lift them out the highchair. Trust me, I have been there.
Be prepared – Part I
Even with the best intentions (‘I’ll never let my baby eat while in transit, they must be sitting in their highchair, with a bib, tablecloth, menu and seating plan’), standards will slip sooner than you can say ‘Sunday night traffic’*. So choose a car seat with a washable cover like this one. And get car seat protectors like this for the seat underneath. The pockets are handy for storing toys, FYI.
Be prepared – Part 2
Get a cute little buggy liner so that crumbling oatcakes drop here, rather than in the folds of the actual buggy, where they will then live for ever more.
*Babies should always be supervised while eating, but you know this.
:: Annie Ridout edits The Early Hour