Baby-led Weaning | Five ways to survive messy mealtimes

I am by no means a tidy person. My house is most definitely lived in, I would almost say I was a bit of a hoarder I love being surrounded by all the lovely knick knacks I've gathered over the years, but when we first started weaning I became so OCD about mess, especially the mess Hedd was making. I was shocked by the amount of wasted food that ended up smattered across my living room floor. I was instantly put off Baby-led Weaning and decided to start off with purees, I even convinced myself that Hedd preferred it!

Then, one afternoon Hedd swiped a slice of toast off my plate and I decided to just see what happened. He ate the whole slice without struggling. That's where our journey began.

For the next six months, food is meant to be fun. Your baby is using this time to explore new flavours and textures and is learning along the way. They will soon be deciding which foods they like and which ones they don't. Don't be disheartened if they pull a funny face (get the camera ready, there hilarious) and spit out everything you give them at first, just keep trying. They're just learning. 

To begin with, you won't need to worry about buying bowls, plates or cutlery etc you simply lay the food on the highchair tray table. I looked everywhere to find the perfect highchair, then a friend of mine offered me her grandsons old one and I fell in love with it. It's the cheap as chips Antilop highchair from IKEA and I know the majority of my friends rave about it too. Most of the time I use old vests during mealtimes, it can be a bit of a pain getting him undressed every time he eats but it allows me to relax so he can make as much mess as he likes. I have a tiled floor in the dining area so I don't need to worry about bits dropping on the floor but I have known some Mums use a shower curtain to protect their carpet. For those days when we are out or in a hurry I have bibs with sleeves, which Hedd HATES wearing but they're great for protecting his clothes.

At first, I couldn't imagine myself letting my baby eat a stick of cucumber or a bread stick. I constantly worried he would choke and although I kind of know what to do in an emergency situation I didn't want to put myself in that sort of situation. That was until I read the Baby-led Weaning Handbook. It explains everything I need to know about how your baby uses her gag reflex to naturally learn to chew food before she learns to swallow. I highly recommend you give it a read before you start on your weaning journey. 

Let your little one enjoy the mess, make it fun and do not disciple. The most important part of mealtimes is having fun and I encourage the mess now, we laugh and smush things together. Wait until you see you baby handling jelly, it's hilarious. 

Have fun and encourage your baby to enjoy food together. I love that we eat the same meals and enjoy them as a family at the table. Over the last few months my diet has improved because now I'm conscious about the things I put in my body. I have found a love for cooking and enjoy planning our meals. 

Here's Hedd enjoying some homemade green pea hummus and breadsticks. I find he'll pretty much eat anything, apart from cheese. However I managed to disguise it in some rather scrummy savoury muffins last week. Why not give them a go, you can find the recipe here. It's true that babies who are given a choice are less likely to become fussy eaters and they are able to control the amount they eat, which helps regulate calorie intake. I don't know what I was worried about. We're having a blast learning and exploring together.

Did you struggle with the mess? Do you have any tips or tricks on making life easier? Do you have any minimal mess meal ideas? Let me know in the comments below.

Laurie Rose