Everything You Need When Your Baby Starts Solids

Everything You Need to Buy When Your Baby Starts Solids

Baby eating solids

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There is nothing quite as exciting as when your baby starts solid foods. You’ve probably been wondering how your baby will react to their first taste of food. Will they be an adventurous eater? Which foods will make them smile? How will feeding them change the dynamic at mealtime? (Long story short: Get ready for a lot of messes!)

As you prepare for the milestone, you are likely wondering what supplies you need to make your baby’s first eating experiences smooth and enjoyable. There are so many items advertised for baby feeding that you might feel overwhelmed by the choices. The truth is, besides the food itself, you don’t need very much—and certainly nothing high-tech or pricey—to feed your baby.

That said, there are a few key items worth investing in. These essentials will make feeding your baby the fun experience it’s meant to be.

1. A Comfortable High Chair or Booster

Your baby is ready to sit in a high chair when they can sit up unassisted. This is usually at around five or six months old. (Most babies are ready to start solid foods between the ages of four and six months, depending on their pediatrician's recommendation.) As you consider which high chair to purchase, consider how much space you have in your kitchen and what your budget looks like.

You don’t have to splurge on a high-end chair, but it’s good to pick one that is durable (especially if you are planning on having multiple children) and that your baby seems comfortable in. It’s a smart idea to test out a few chairs before purchasing. You also want to make sure the chair is easy to clean. Features like a detachable tray can be very helpful for quick clean-up.

What You Need

Most families don’t need more than one high chair in their home. If space is an issue, you can invest in a clip-on chair (these can hang on the edge of a sturdy kitchen counter or table) or booster seat. Since boosters are portable, many families purchase one to make dining out easier.

2. Easy-to-Clean Bibs

There are many different kinds of bibs out there these days, and as long as you have enough bibs on hand, you can’t really go wrong here. That said, your baby is going to make a lot of messes, especially at the beginning, so you want to have a bib that is super easy to clean.

Bibs made of waterproof material are invaluable, and bibs that have little pockets at the bottom to catch spilled foods can be really helpful. You want to make sure the bib stays on your baby well and is comfortable for your baby to wear. Trying out a few bibs, or asking for recommendations before you make an investment, is a wise idea.

What You Need

If you are buying waterproof bibs, you only need one or two, because you can easily clean them between feedings. If you are going with cloth bibs, you’ll want to have several available—at least one per meal—because you can be guaranteed they will get very messy, very quickly.

3. Baby Spoons

Although soft finger foods are a great option for babies who have developed their pincer grasp (the ability to pick up foods between their pointer finger and thumb), most of us start by offering our babies pureed food. Adult size spoons are too large for a baby’s mouth, so invest in some baby spoons for feeding.

Soft, flexible spoons are best at first, because they are easier for baby to manage, and help prevent gagging. Babies do best with small amounts at first, so even though the spoon might not look like it holds a lot of food, that is perfectly fine. Brightly colored spoons are nice because they can get your baby interested and excited.

What You Need

You will need at least two or three baby spoons at first. While you can wash the spoons between feedings, you’ll be surprised by how many are dropped on the floor, tangled up in your baby’s hair, and covered in all manners of messes.

4. Bowls and Serving Dishes

If you make your own baby food (there is no requirement that you do this!), you will need a few baby-sized serving bowls for your creations. You can certainly use adult bowls for this, but since you will not be serving your baby adult-sized portions, it can be easier to have the smaller bowls on hand.

Another reason to invest in baby-specific bowls is that you’ll want to use non-breakable bowls. It’s also nice to use bowls that double as storage containers. Your baby’s eating habits will be erratic at first, so you will often need to store uneaten foods.

What You Need

Having at least two bowls available per meal is ideal. You’ll often find yourself offering your baby a few different foods per feeding, and there is always the chance of spillage. Plus, it’s not always easy keeping up with the dishes generated when you are caring for little ones, so having several dishes on hand can be a lifesaver.

5. Baby Drinking Cups

When your baby starts solids, they can also start to take little sips of water as they eat. Your baby is learning the art of drinking from a cup, which they will perfect as the months go on.

It is not required that your baby use a sippy cup, but drinking from a sippy cup is usually easier for your baby than drinking from an open cup. Plus, spills from sippy cups are much less messier than spills from open cups. There are many baby cups on the market. Pick one that is BPA-free and easy to clean. Most baby cups will have handles so that your baby can learn to manage the cup on their own.

What You Need

At first, you will only need one or two cups for your baby. Your baby’s cup will be covered in baby food at least once per meal. As your baby gets older, you will probably want a few extra sippy cups for when you are out and about.

6. A Splash Mat

Eating solids is a messy business indeed. A bunch of the mess will be found on your baby’s face, hands, and bib. Some will be on the table. But a whole lot of it will land on the floor. And when you’re doing purees, you’ve got to bet on having some sticky, hard-to-clean puddles of food on your floor.

It can help abundantly to use a splash mat or splat mat on your floor. These products allow for easy clean-up because you can just lift them up, run them under water, and watch the spilled purees go down the drain. Of course, you can also use newspaper or another make-shift solution, but a waterproof mat is much more user-friendly.

What You Need

One or two mats will work just fine. Most of the time, you’ll be able to rinse your mat clean and have it ready for the next feeding, but occasionally the mat will require a more involved clean up, so it can be useful to have more than one mat available.

8. Baby Food Maker

Not everyone chooses to make their own baby food, and it’s totally okay if you choose not to. Taking care of a baby is time consuming enough and adding another thing to the list can feel overwhelming. However, many of us like to experiment with different recipes and really enjoy making our baby’s first foods from scratch. The added benefit of doing this is that we have more control over the kinds of foods and quality of the foods our baby consumes.

There are many different baby food makers on the market, some as simple as a bowl and masher and some electronic devices with multiple attachments and settings. Choose whichever baby food maker fits your budget, your lifestyle, and your interests. Again, bigger isn’t always better here.

What You Need

Start with just one baby food maker. See if you like it, and then move on from there. When you first start feeding your baby, you might find that your baby doesn’t even like purees (this is common!) and prefers finger foods. You might also find that you don’t have as much time as you thought to prepare your baby’s foods from scratch. So it makes sense to start small and not invest in many devices at once.

9. A TON of Cleaning Supplies

If it’s not clear by now, you should expect quite a bit of mess when you begin feeding your baby solids—and probably for several months (or years!) to come.

You’ll want to keep a bunch of extra cloths and towels around. Those old burp clothes and muslin blankets that you thought you were done with can be re-used as baby clean-up equipment. Stock up on extra baby wipes too: those can be used for virtually anything. Keep sponges and towels around for your table and high chair. An extra bottle of cleaning spray is helpful too.

What You Need

You’ll want to have at least two or three extra towels around to be used specifically for addressing after-meal clean-up. The same goes for extra wipes, sponges, paper towels, and spray cleaner. Expect to be purchasing more cleaning supplies for the next few months at least.

A Word From Verywell

When you first start feeding your baby solids, you may be filled with many idealistic expectations. You might imagine your baby sitting happily in their high chair for the entire feeding, gladly accepting whatever foods you have lovingly prepared. Sometimes our expectations don’t match reality, though, and this is especially true as you begin feeding your baby solid foods.

Your best bet is to just go with the flow. Remember that eating for the first time is a learning process for your baby. So give them time to experiment, and expect them not to necessarily like all the foods your present them with. Remember, too, that baby eating is supposed to be a sensory experience for your baby. They aren’t just tasting the foods, but they are experiencing them with all their senses, including their hands.

Again, simple is where it’s at here—when it comes to equipment needed, items purchased, and expectations. If you take the right attitude (and expect the process to be MESSY), you are guaranteed a fun and enjoyable experience. Bon appétit!

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