With my third baby just starting real foods, I’m remembering how messy and delightful those early attempts at eating are. The first few times, she just had no idea what to do with food, but now she’s getting the hang of it and when she sees us eating without her, she gets a little frantic, exercising her little lungs and waving her arms around to let us know, “I want some of that too!” Since little eaters can get stickier than Pooh with a hunny pot, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepped for breakfast, lunch, or dinnertime to keep things from getting too messy! Here are six things I’ve learned to keep on hand:
1. A high chair you can easily clean. It’s magical how much mess a single raspberry can make, so I highly recommend a high chair that can be wiped down with a sponge. You don’t want to be remembering three kids later that first experience with peas thanks to a stained high chair.
2. A waterproof bib. When I was going through my baby things before my third daughter was born, I only saved the waterproof bibs. Ones that you can spray down in the sink and are dry a minute or two later with zero staining are the way to go!
3. Baby silverware. Since I don’t want to be spoonfeeding my child forever, I like to give them practice early on with silverware that they can handle on their own. Plus, regular silverware is just too big for those little mouths, so I’ve loved having a few sets of child-size utensils.
4. A splash mat. If you have flooring that doesn’t easily wipe up (like the carpet we had in our dining room for our first two children – that apartment was obviously designed by someone without small children!), you’ll want some sort of splash mat to go under the high chair so your carpet doesn’t get immediately ruined with the first forays into eating. And my advice? There’s no such thing as too big when it comes to picking out a size for that mat.
5. Stain remover. Guaranteed that, despite your best efforts, your child will somehow manage to smear food on their clothing. I keep a bottle of stain remover handy and immediately spray down any clothing that’s gotten dirty so that it doesn’t stain my favorite little outfits.
6. Your phone to record it all. The video of my oldest daughter tasting some vinegary salad is still one of my favorites as she shakes her head in surprise and then opens wide for another bite. These moments are priceless!
Moving into table foods is such an exciting transition for both of you – there’s nothing like watching them figure out how to move their little tongues and lighting up when they particularly like something. And with the right tools to keep it from being a huge mess, you might even share dessert.