If you’ve made it past the headline and are actually reading this article, we know one thing for sure about you—you’re fearless.
You’re ready to take that next step into parenthood that requires sheeting the room in plastic, donning a full-body apron and laying in a year’s supply of paper towels.
You’re ready for your baby to learn use a spoon or a cup, or dare we suggest it, eat from a bowl.
For a good 6 months now, baby has been neatly suckling at the breast, getting her best nutrition from you. But you can’t help notice that while you’re noshing she’s watching your every move and reaching out, into the air, as if she’s ready to join you at the food carnival and move on to solids.
So we say, go ahead, venture forth brave parent. With these sure-fire tips from other mamas and papas and pediatricians alike, you’re likely to encounter success at some point in the mess.
Just look at what babies do with spoons—they flail them around like swords or clubs. How will they ever eat with that? “Give him something to hold on to, another spoon or even a toy,” advises Dr. William Sears, in The Baby Book.
“Don’t ever punish him for making a mess or wanting to be part of the action.”
Make it exciting—the spoon can be a flying airplane, a train entering the roundhouse, just open your mouth wide—baby will do the same—and help guide his first shovel full in. Pretty soon he’ll be doing it all by himself.
Try Baby Bjorn spoons: BPA-free, with a short handle that is easy for small hands to grip, $10.95, babybjorn.com/find-your-store.
As soon as baby can sit up and hold his head, it’s time to learn that liquids come from more than just mama. Behold the cup—especially one with a weighted base and 2 handles, say the editors of What to Expect: The First Year.
Many parents are divided about whether to start with a sippy (spill proof, please!) or go straight to an open cup (you know you eventually have to go there). Regardless, experts agree—skip juices and start with water or some of your expressed breastmilk. As soon as baby can sip, ditch the sippy altogether.
Try a Natural Drinking Cup: Sneaky parents try the Avent cup that teaches sipping from the spill-free safety of a sippy, $6.99, philips-store.com.
A bowl is a hygienic way to serve food prepared in your own veggie steamer or from a jar of your favorite puree.
What you don’t want to do is feed baby from a jar or any container as doing so can introduce germs into foods you intend to feed later, say the pediatric experts at kidshealth.org.
For baby, a bowl is first and foremost a toy. Begin bowl feeding by dropping bite-sized bits of grapes, soft apples or mashed sweet potatoes into its base. Help baby guide her fingers to her mouth and she’ll soon be used to eating her food from something other than your hand or breast.
Try the Boon Catch Toddler bowl: This bowl stays put—unlike what you’ll put in it! $9.99, booninc.com.
Breastfeeding Moms: Jessica Shortall Has Your Back, and Your Well-Being at Heart Healthy Mom&Baby interviews lactivist and author Jessica Shortall