essential lists

The best buys for weaning and feeding your baby

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Once your baby gets to around six months old, it's time to start weaning them onto more solid food.

Weaning is an important step in your baby’s development but nothing can prepare you for how messy it gets! Whether you're going to be feeding your baby puréed foods – or trying baby-led weaning – you'll need to buy some new kit to get started.

Always buy products that can be easily washed by hand or in the dishwasher and make sure you’ve got the floor and any clothing covered, as puréed food will get everywhere (your walls will NEVER be the same again).

What are the products you need for weaning? You'll need to buy a bowl, spoon, cup and some bibs as a bare minimum. Several brands offer a complete weaning set, so you can get all the basics you need in one hit.

Though you may use your baby's rocker or bouncy chair for their first meals, eventually you'll probably need to invest in a good highchair.

Here are our favourite weaning buys, with everything from bibs to spoons and cups to bowls, plus some clever items to keep your kitchen clean and splatter-free!

If you’re following baby-led weaning – letting your baby feed themselves, rather than spoon-feeding – but are worried about choking, you can buy special mesh feeders that you put chunks of food inside, so they can suck and chew on them without the risk of choking (although it’s very rare for babies to actually choke on food).

When you start introducing solids, you’ll need to get your baby used to drinking water from a cup too. Free-flowing sippy cups are easier for babies to drink from but can also leak and spill. Leak-proof, non-spill cups are better if you’re avoiding mess but can be difficult for babies to master. Some cups can be used with a bottle teat to make the transition easier.

Minimising mess is another thing to think about when weaning your baby. Bibs are essential – you can choose from fabric bibs, which are cheap and comfortable for your baby to wear but will need washing after every use; plastic pelican bibs with a crumb-catcher scoop, which are easy to wipe clean but can be a bit rigid and uncomfortable to wear; or cover-all long-sleeved bibs that are great for protecting clothes but can swamp younger babies. You may also want a plastic mat for the floor and a wipe-clean mat for the table.

Want to know more about keeping weaning mess to a minimum? Read our guide here.

If you’re planning to cook your own baby food, you’ll need some way of storing it in the fridge or freezer. There are lots of options, from ice cube tray storage with lots of small compartments, to stackable, lidded pots. They come in a variety of sizes, from small baby portions to larger toddler servings. Silicone pots and trays are easier to get frozen food out of than plastic ones; it’s also best to buy storage that’s suitable for the microwave and dishwasher to save time.

While it’s easy enough to prepare baby food using your everyday kitchen equipment, you can buy all-in-one gadgets that perform a range of functions, including steaming, blending, defrosting and reheating food. These don’t come cheap and can take up a lot of work surface space but can help save time in the kitchen. You can also use them for your own cooking, as they're the perfect size to make a sauce or a small dish. You can also buy a special device that lets you make your own baby food pouches, which are handy for going out and about.

How much does baby weaning equipment cost?

A lot of the basic kit you’ll need for weaning – plastic spoons, plates, bowls and bibs – can be picked up very cheaply from supermarkets, baby stores and even pound shops, although you can spend more on luxury brands and designs. Items with added features, such as suction on the bottom of cups or plates, will be more expensive. You’ll also need storage pots for refrigerating and freezing homemade food; again, these are readily available and most cost under £5 for a multi-pack.

If you want to invest in a gadget for making it easier to prepare, cook and blend baby food, these cost from around £20 for a simple blender, up to £100+ for a multi-function machine.

Retailers such as Amazon and Boots have regular deals and offers on weaning products, so keep your eyes open for any bargains.

What should I buy for weaning?

China plates may look lovely but they won’t withstand this stage of feeding, so you'll have to buy new ones – look for plastic, bamboo, silicone or melamine. Some plates and bowls have useful features like a non-slip base or suction cup, so they’re harder to knock over, or a handle to make them easy for you to hold, plus sections to keep different foods separate.

Microwaveable and dishwasher-safe plates and bowls are easy to use and clean and those that have lids are good for keeping food in the fridge and reheating food without splatters.

Cutlery should be plastic, bamboo or silicone to avoid damaging your baby's delicate gums. If you’re going to be spoon-feeding your baby, long-handled spoons are good for getting to the bottom of jars. If they're at the self-feeding stage, short and chunky handles are easier for them to hold. Some spoons even have a colour-change feature, with tips that indicates if food is too hot. You will be able to buy weaning sets consisting of a bowl, plate, spoon and sometimes a cup too from nursery retailers such as Amazon or John Lewis. This can often work out cheaper than buying the items individually.

A highchair is a must-buy for baby mealtimes. Choose one without a tray so they can eat at the table with the rest of the family and you might want to look for one that grows with your child.

What foods should you avoid when weaning your baby?

It’s important to make sure that you prepare, cook and store baby food safely, whether it’s homemade or bought, to prevent tummy bugs. There are also certain foods that aren’t safe for babies including salt, honey and undercooked eggs. Buying a good baby and toddler feeding book will introduce all the safety guidance you need to know, with lots of advice and also recipes to follow.

See our round-up of the best baby and toddler weaning and feeding books, here.

Read more:

The best changing mats for babies

How to buy the right travel cot for nights away

How to choose the best travel system for you and your baby

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