Weaning in the comfort of your own home can be a messy business, so how do you handle the world of purées and finger food when you’re out and about? Feeding expert Annabel Karmel is on hand with her top tips for on-the-go success
“Introducing your baby to a world of solid foods is a mighty milestone, and a messy one at that! At least at home you have the wipes, mop and bathtub on hand – it’s when you head out and about that the real fun begins.
“As with all things parenting-related, the key is preparation. Whether you’re heading on a family adventure or nipping to a friend’s house for a catch-up cuppa, a bit of savvy packing will keep you sane when your baby is ready for their next meal.”
What equipment should I get?
“There are so many great products on the market to make life easier for parents, whether it’s helping you to quickly mash fruit and veggies, or ergonomic designs for babies to hold comfortably. Here are few key pieces of equipment to make on-the-go weaning that little bit easier:
- Bibs and wet wipes – there are lots of bib styles from cute neckerchiefs to full-coverage jackets with sleeves – it all depends how confident you’re feeling! A pack of baby wipes are also a lifesaver when things get a bit messy…
- Weaning spoons – metal spoons are a bit hard for a baby’s sensitive gums. Plastic varieties are nice and soft with no sharp edges. Look out for designs with an easy-grip handle, soft tip and a supportive base to help keep germs off the spoon (and mess off the table!).
- Weaning bowl – a small, plastic, heatproof weaning bowl is perfect for using out and about. When your baby is ready to feed themselves, it’s amazing how a bright new set of cutlery or their favourite colourful bowl can tempt them to try it.
- Masher and bowl – this makes it quick and easy to prepare fresh baby food. You can simply mash banana, avocado, peach or pear on its own – or with a little milk – for an instant purée.
- Stackable pots – these are ideal for storing fresh baby food and great for any leftovers.
- Non-spill cup with lid – if your baby is ready to start using a cup or beaker, then make sure you take it when you’re out and about.
- Snack pots – perfect for storing snacks and other small pieces of fruit. They’re also a great way to teach young children to eat on their own.
- Ice packs and cool bags – if you’re packing your own fresh food or purées, keep them cold with a trusty cool bag or some small ice packs.
- Highchair – if you can, try to call ahead to the restaurant or café you’re visiting and see if you can reserve a highchair. If you find yourself travelling a lot – or are away for a longer period of time – it might be worth investing in a booster seat or travel highchair for peace of mind. Alternatively, if your pushchair has multiple positions you could use this for mealtimes.”
How to prepare purées
“If you can find the time, it’s a good idea to batch cook some homemade meals and purées. A fresh purée will last 48 hours in the fridge and eight weeks in the freezer. Food cube trays are great for storing individual portions and you’ll always have something on hand to pack and go. For longer trips, it might be better to buy pouches, which are safely sealed and may not need to be kept refrigerated unless they have already been opened.
“Most restaurants and coffee shops are happy to give you a bowl of hot water to heat food, or ask if they can put it in a microwave for you – be sure to check the temperature yourself, ensure the purée is completely defrosted and stir well.”
How to prepare finger foods
“Finger foods are a good choice for a picnic or to take out with you on trips. You can store them in little snack pots, and can feed them easily with little to no equipment. Finger foods should be soft and cut to a size that your baby can hold. Babies around six months tend to use their whole hand to pick things up, so avoid making the pieces too wide. Fairly long pieces are best – I would suggest cutting food into 5-6cm batons or sticks. Take a look at my recommended foods for baby-led weaning, as these easy-to-hold finger foods are also great for on the go.”
For lots more weaning on the go inspiration Annabel Karmel’s new Baby-Led Weaning Recipe Book is filled with 120 quick, easy and nutritious recipes, essential advice and tips to incorporate baby-led weaning into your baby’s routine.
Introduce your baby to solid foods once they are six months old, according to the NHS. Before this age, your baby’s digestive system may not be ready. The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond. Remember that your baby must never be left alone while eating, must be seated in an upright position and, once they are finished, be sure to check their cheeks for any lumps of uneaten food.