Weaning! "It's so exciting," said everyone, "watching your newborn's elation at tasting new foods! Are you going baby-led or purees? Ella's or Organix? Sterilising or just triple-dishwashering-at-60-degrees? Following the gospel according to Annabel or .. Someone Else?"
Tiny man and I are now almost a month into weaning (aka learning to eat). There are definitely lots of fun moments - like watching his face contort into joy, disgust or confusion every time something new approaches his lips. But creating a zillion different concoctions, then watching, helping and encouragingly-grinning as tiny man grabs the spoon and turns said concoctions into expensive face packs, spread in 29 different places around his mouth, then clearing up afterwards - three times a day - does occasionally get a bit tedious.
So, screw the 'feeding philosophies': these are the eight gadgets and gear that I recommend everyone includes in their weaning armoury. (They are in a random order because ... I haven't slept enough for logic to come into my brain.)
2. Philips Avent Combined Steamer and Blender. This. Is. Amazing. At first, living in a small London flat, I didn't want to buy any more equipment for a packed kitchen. But after a whole Sunday of spending hours putting chopped veg on top of a sieve then mushing with a blender.. I thought life's too short. This machine makes it so much easier: you put whatever veg/fish/fruit/meat/etc you need in the top, pour in water, let it steam for 10 or so minutes, tip the jug upside down then press blend... and you've got easy, healthy, homemade baby food.
There are three speeds, so you can make perfectly smooth puree or have more lumps and bits for older babies. Frankly I've started using it for our meals too, because in this one jug you can make soup, houmous, risotto.. with only one pot to wash up: this is the knackered parents' weaning dream machine.
1 and 8. I love Munchkin's baby 'crockery' - it's bright, easy to clean and really practical. These bowls are particularly great: they have a suction ring underneath so when tiny but seriously strong baby fists try to flip the food bowl out of the way, they... can't. Ha! Foiled you! The spoons are soft and chewable for little mouths too.
3. Oh. The. Mess. Pureed food gets everywhere. I found a bit of sweet potato behind my ear earlier - and tiny man ate that for yesterday's lunch. This £10 JoJo bib is really good for covering tiny man all over, and it's wipe-clean so easy to wash too. Worth the extra money.
4. I've got a stack of weaning books and find them really useful for advice on what to feed when - especially River Cottage's because it has really beautiful pictures too and recipes that you can use for your meals too. But I also love Annabel Karmel's app for its practical lists: you click on the meals you want to make, and it'll add the ingredients to your shopping list as well as making a meal planner.
5. Ella's Kitchen pouches. Sure, we're all making uber-nutritious delicious impeccable Michelin-starred-style purees almost all of the time. But sometimes, you're too tired to even defrost something from the freezer. Step forward these easily-spoonable purees in a zillion different varieties that, according to my tiny man's licked lips, taste pretty great too. Perfect for the nappy bag too as they don't need to be kept in the fridge, and whilst out-and-about as you don't need a bowl - just squeeze a bit onto a spoon.
6. and 7. If you don't want to spend your one spare daily second meal-making, big batches is the way to go. These Jojo pots (6) can be filled up, frozen, then grabbed whenever you need them - particularly useful when going out. They come with labels, or you can do what I do: forget to label them and take out what you think is a healthy tub of butternut squash that turns out to be a big pot of Ella's mango, which pleases your baby very much indeed. A cheaper option - I do both as the lidded pots are useful for travel but my freezer's capacity is less than that of my pregnancy bras - is to fill up flexible ice trays in freezer bags, then pop out the cubes into bags as soon as they're solid.