Baby-Led Weaning: Eating Out and About (A Two-Parter)
As a parent new to Baby-Led Weaning it is often daunting when eating when out and about with your baby. It can be a challenging and fraught experience if you aren't in a position to sit down at a table with full cutlery and plates/bowls etc., but there are a few ways to make your life slightly easier! Since I have already covered Eating Out with your Baby-Led Baby, here are a few tips for "Eating About" (on the move, at a picnic etc.) with your Baby-Led Baby.
One of our first family picnics at the local park!
Part Two: 5 Top Tips for Eating Out and About with your Baby-Led Baby
1. Choose foods that have their own natural containers
This most commonly applies to fruit such as bananas and citrus fruit. They are easy to carry around and serve to your baby as and when needed. However, when offering citrus fruit to a baby you need to be careful of the pith/membrane (the white parts which encase the juicy bit) as they can be difficult for a baby without teeth to manage.
Berries are also a good fruit for when you are out and about, but will need preparation before you leave the house. Ensure that you cut grapes, berries and cherry tomatoes in lengthways quarters to avoid them becoming a choking hazard (see our other post "Navigating the Early Stages of BLW" for tips on baby first aid).
2. Prepare foods that hold together well
When eating on the move you may find it easier to only offer finger foods so that you won't need to take cutlery with you. Some of our picnic favourites are things such as Spanish Omelette, homemade pizza sandwiches, savoury scones or falafels (check out our book or Instagram/facebook pages for more ideas and recipes). Yes, some crumbs will inevitably drop off, but it will still be less messy than, say, a chicken mayonnaise and salad sandwich! The advantage of making these from scratch is that you can limit the amount of salt and increase the amount of vegetables used in these foods ensuring that even though you are away from home your baby is still getting the vital nutrients that he/she needs.
If offering meat then you can always take a small pot of roasted chicken breast, cooked beef strips etc. for your baby to munch on.
Cold pasta or steamed/baked new potatoes with low salt tomato/vegetable/pesto sauce pesto is also a good option (I like to make my own, but if I'm really busy then we love pasta sauce by Seeds of Change as it is free from artificial ingredients). This is slightly messier than some of the other finger foods, but if you opt for a large/grabbing size pasta then this works well.
Cheese sticks are another good option as they will provide calcium and protein. Nevertheless, be careful when offering cheese as certain types contain a lot of salt which your baby's kidneys will find hard to ingest. You can always opt for lower salt cheeses such as emmental or mozzarella (this is creamy too, which babies love!).
For a protein-packed compact food, sliced hard-boiled egg fares well. Yes, there will be a bit of mess when the yolk falls out (it'd be impressive if it doesn't!), but it generally holds together and keeps well when travelling.
3. When in doubt, choose fruit and vegetables
Carrot, cucumber or sticks of pepper are delicious snacks for eating out and about and they make minimal mess too! Peel pears, core and cut them into lengthways quarters for easy grip and a juicy treat! Nectarines, mangos and peaches cut into quarters or sticks are also a delicious dessert for your Baby-Led Baby when out and about.
4. Healthy ready-made snacks do exist
Thanks to companies such as Organix there are many healthy snack options out there these days. When first weaning I was adamant that I would only offer homemade snacks, but as every busy parent knows there are some instances where this just isn't possible. This is when we started offering the twins snacks from the wide variety created by Organix. They have a great range of treats ranging from oaty cereal bars to mini rice cakes and puffed corn crisps. All of their recipes are free from refined sugar and salt which makes them Baby-Led Weaning Baby friendly!
Additionally, if you don't have time to prepare fruit for your baby before leaving the house you can always turn to dried fruit and keep some in the cupboard (they come in handy when flavouring baby breakfasts too!). Raisins are usually a strong favourite, but most major supermarkets now offer dried fruits such as mango, cranberries, figs etc. which are a good source of vitamins. However, as usual be sure to check the label as certain brands tend to add unnecessary sugars (I once bought some dried fruit strips as a treat but upon opening discovered that they contained a lot of added sugar/gelatine and resembled gummy sweets/strawberry laces/twizzlers!).
If your baby likes yoghurt then this is another healthy option for an "on-the-move" snack. It can be a little messy, so we found that it is easier to use pouches. However, when the twins were really young they of course needed help feeding from these. Be wary of yoghurt pouches aimed at children and be sure to check the ingredients as many of them contain extra sugar when in fact natural occurring sugars from fruit will provide sufficient sweetness. Our favourite yoghurts are 100% Greek or natural yoghurt with pureed fruit added for flavour and are now available from most major supermarkets.
5. Cleanliness is next to godliness
As ever, your hero when out and about with your Baby-Led Baby is baby wipes! They are great for cleaning little hands and faces as well as anything else that their food drops on. You may also want to take antibacterial wipes with you in case your baby drops their sippy cup etc.
It can also be handy to take a bib with you in your changing bag so that it can be used in an impromptu situation. A bib with a catching pocket at the bottom is useful, but failing that a fabric weaning bib with waterproof backing is good for keeping any spills off your baby (see our post "Navigating the Early Stages of BLW" for bib suggestions). If your Baby-Led Baby is an extremely messy eater at home then it could also be a good idea to take a spare change of clothes with you just in case things do get out of hand (but hopefully with these tips any mess will be kept to a minimum!).
In terms of going out for a family picnic, there are many waterproof (and therefore spill proof) foldable picnic mats that are brilliant for families (you can also use your antibacterial wipes to wipe this down once you've finished so that it is ready for the next use).
I hope that you find these tips useful, but more importantly always ensure that even when eating out and about your baby maintains an upright position with adequate support.
Wishing you happy times eating out and about with your BLW Baby this year!
Check out the first post of this two-parter for "Top Tips for Eating Out with your Baby-Led Baby" at restaurants.
See our Book for information on starting Baby-Led Weaning and for healthy and delicious family recipes!