Muffin Club for Moms

Do you know you want in Muffin Club for Moms? You can skip the post below and sign up here.

Since a book club still seems like a distant dream, one thing I can commit to in the real day to day right now is baking once a week, every Monday, to both keep myself accountable and healthy snacks on hand in our home.

This was a random idea I had in planning for postpartum after my third was born in August 2018. I casually mentioned it on my Instagram, “Hey, if you want me to share the recipes I choose and make, let me know.” That was after 9 PM and when I crawled into bed, I literally had hundreds of DMs asking for me to share.

So what else would I do than hop back out of bed with my giant 32 week pregnant belly and get to work. I posted a sign up for my fellow moms (slash families as I love all you dads who bake too!), and over the past year, it has been so fun watching thousands of you bake with me.

Whether you are expecting a little one soon, early on in your pregnancy and wanting to find some tried-and-true muffins for future postpartum prep, or are a fellow busy mama who just wants to make life a liiiiiittle more streamlined, efficient, and low-stress (especially over summer and as we gear back up for Back to School by the end of this), this Muffin Club is for you.


 
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Here is What You Can Expect:

Each week, I will:

  1. Search, find, and organize muffin recipes that I personally approve of as a dietitian-mom. I have personally tried each of these in advance and think they are enjoyable to eat and easy to make (with or without kids). As a dietitian mom, I also have vetted these recipes as ones that offer worthwhile nutrition for you and your family.

  2. Send out ONE email with the recipe for the upcoming week. I will send this on Saturday mornings, only to those who have joined the Muffin Club. Join here >>

  3. Share on my Instagram a picture and/or story about the muffins we are making for the week using the hashtag #muffinclubformoms.

Each week, I ask that you will:

  1. Check the recipe for the upcoming week so you can make sure you have the ingredients on hand. You can find this recipe on the email I send out each Saturday morning titled, "New Recipe for Muffin Club: ________." To join this email list and get this recipe to your inbox, make sure to sign up here.

  2. Recognize that each recipe may or may not suit your family’s dietary needs. Whenever possible, I have tried to select recipes that offer options to modify based on dietary preferences and/or allergen needs. In each week’s email, I also include modifications that I use for the recipe (based on my own family), but I can’t personally speak to other modifications or allergen-friendly alternatives. If you try any substitution, would you please share via email with me or on social media? Last year this proved to be very helpful among our muffin club community.

  3. Use this time to bond with your child(ren) over baking or for a much needed mom break when you can bake in peace! You can make this a family affair and double batch it so you have some to freeze and save, or many moms last year enjoyed baking and swapping with a fellow mom friend. This gives you both more variety of muffins for less actual effort on each end. Plus, it becomes an easy play date snack swap that I’m pretty sure most of us would be happy to do!

  4. Whenever you decide to make the muffins (be it on Monday or anytime!), please share a picture or a video on your social media. When you do, I would really appreciate it if you would tag me (@veggiesandvirtue) and include #muffinclubformoms. This makes a more fun "community" feel for our super official Muffin Club for Moms :)

  5. Enjoy the muffins! This is meant to be fun and ultimately help fuel your family - especially amidst the chaos of real life when sometimes we only have one hand to grab something healthy-ish while heading out the door. This isn’t intended to be a burden nor a baking competition. It is meant to fuel you - mind, body, and soul!

    You are doing great, mama, and I hope each bite of muffin brings you one more much needed deep breath each day.


FAQs for Muffin Club

I have received several questions about making muffins in advance, the logistics of doing so to freeze and enjoy again later, as well as this being round two to muffin club. To address some of these questions, I have provided the questions and my answers below.


If I signed up in 2018, do I need to sign up again?

Yes. Most of the recipes will be the same as those shared in 2018, but if you would like them to be delivered to your inbox again, you need to join here.

Are the recipes the same as last year?

Yes, majority of them are! I made 1-2 modifications (depending on when you signed up) to reflect some of my most favorite recipes currently. In upcoming years of running Muffin Club, I would like to introduce all new recipes. However, due to current bandwidth limitations, majority of the recipes will be familiar if you joined Muffin Club last year.

Can I get all the recipes in advance?

Yes. You can skip the weekly emails and get the complete Muffin Club series here.

What kind of muffins will be included?

These are better-for-you, homemade muffins made with as many wholesome ingredients as possible. Set your expectations for them to taste delicious AND be nutritious as a nutrient-dense breakfast, snack, or anytime option! If you are wanting a muffin that is delicious but not so nutritious, I am probably not your gal nor is this going to bring you the type of snack you have in mind. The pre-made options you will find at most coffee shops and grocery stores are better suited for those decadent versus nutrient-dense options. Additionally, if you want these muffins to be zero added sugar, paleo-, keto-, or meet any other kind of specific dietary standards, again I am not your gal. These will have some grain-free, some without any added sugar, many with natural forms of sugar or added sugar, and some with tested swaps to eliminate dairy, eggs, etc. This club does not intend to follow one type of diet, however.


What type of ingredients will these muffins be made from?

Since I personally can't consume gluten, I usually bake gluten-free to ensure I can eat whatever I make. When possible, I use oats/oat flour or a gluten-free all purpose flour (as a substitute for a whole wheat flour or when specified). Many of these muffins will also use almond flour, or coconut flour as the base (making them naturally gluten-free). You are welcome to make your muffins with whatever flour is called for or is your preference, but please note I can’t ensure that the exchange is always 1:1 so you need to check the recipe notes and comments to verify what works (or doesn’t).

I am by no means endorsing a gluten-free diet is appropriate for everyone; this is simply how I cook for my family so the recipes chosen will naturally reflect that.

Otherwise, I am not looking to make anything fancy here folks! Most every recipe will be selected with the common home kitchen and pantry in mind, as I value recipes that use our everyday staples vs require exotic (or especially expensive) ingredients. Some of what I consider “staples” might be new to you. My goal is not to send you out shopping or spending unnecessary money on any of the ingredients included. Rather, the ingredients included are ones that I, as a dietitian mom, think are worthwhile having in your home and becoming familiar with - with Muffin Club as your first chance!


What is the best way to store muffins?

For the muffins that I plan we will eat the week of, I usually store them in a glass Pyrex with a snapware lid (as seen on my Amazon shop - affiliate link). If I don't want to tie these glass storage containers up long term however, so for freezing I use a gallon-sized freezer Ziplock, Stasher bags (when I have some free to use), and/or a metal disposable container with heavy duty foil top (I find the best size options and price for disposable metal pans at Dollar Tree).


What is the best way to freeze muffins?

Ideally, I recommend allowing the muffins to cool and come to room temperature. Then, transfer them on a cooling rack (or in the original muffin tin) and place them in the freezer for 30+ minutes to flash freeze individually. Once quick-frozen, transfer muffins to a sealed, freezer-safe container (see question above). This will help them to not stick together but prevents you from having to waste the time or product to wrap each muffin individually.


What is the best way to keep muffins tasting fresh?

Especially during hot summer months, I recommend you keep your fresh batch of muffins in the fridge (once they have cooled). Most will mold at room temperature if left out for more than 1-2 days, so I suggest storing them in the fridge and then pulling them out in advance to bring them to room temp on their own before eating or by quickly warming them up in the microwave (~10 seconds).


What is the best way to thaw frozen muffins?

When you go to thaw your muffins from the freezer, simply transfer the container of them to the fridge. Allow them to thaw on their own, or take one and put it on a paper towel to microwave (~15-30 seconds depending on how frozen they are). You should be able to transfer the whole container to the fridge to enjoy, or you can remove one muffin at a time from your freezer stash and thaw in the microwave. For muffins with more moisture, you may want to consider putting a paper towel inside of the container/Ziplock to absorb it as the muffins thaw.


How long do the muffins last in the freezer for?

From my experience and the notes I have read on many muffins recipes, most muffins are fine to be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months (assuming they have been well-sealed). When you put each batch in, just be sure to label with the name and date and then rotate using First In, First Out method when it comes to eating those that have been frozen. This said, in real life, we had so many muffins when my third was born we ate them after the three month mark and as far as I can tell, we all still turned out okay!


Breastfeeding (or Bottle Feeding) Busy Boxes

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. These do not cost you more to use but provide Veggies & Virtue with a small commission for any orders made using these links. Thank you for your support!

Guess what?!

Over nine months ago when little man was still a big bump in my belly, I planned to share this post.

Then life with three littles happened and while we have used these Breastfeeding Busy Box ideas often, I haven’t formally shared these ideas with you all - until now!

Many of you have direct messaged me on Instagram or emailed me over the past year asking, “What are these ‘Busy Boxes’ you speak of?” I have sent informal videos to many of you as a reply to share our up close and personal, but now is the time I want to put all this info in one place so you and any other families planning for postpartum with older kids or just a long summer with quiet time activities needed so mama doesn’t have to be “on” every second.

These were originally created because in addition to getting all things food-related ready for postpartum, I had seen and heard time and time again the advice to have activities ready for an older sibling once a new infant arrives. Seeing that breastfeeding has never been a cakewalk around here, having such activities ready in the form of Breastfeeding Busy Boxes helped me a lot in having three babies in under five years.

With my first, we didn’t need these busy boxes since she was the only one at the time. Come my second child though, and I struggled to breastfeed due to an undiagnosed tongue tie that put us through the ringer for her first 3+ months of life (until it was ultimately revised). I had to nurse her endlessly to satisfy her hunger in those early months, then later exclusively pumped once her tongue tie revision still lent to us being unsuccessful in breastfeeding. With this transition to two kids, I found myself needing a lot of strategies to engage my oldest as much as possible while we got the whole feeding situation figured out.

With my third child, I am so thankful breastfeeding finally did go/has gone smoothly. But that is not without the struggle of still wrangling two older siblings at home all the moments I am trying to sit and nurse. Even now with him being older and so easily distracted, I often need to pull something out that my three and five year old can play with independently (or often together) so they aren’t coming over and “interrupting” my attempt to nurse (or at least not as often). Having these Breastfeeding Busy Boxes continues to be helpful and adaptable.

So whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, exclusively pump, or use entirely formula, I hope this post supports you. It is not meant for only the moms who’s breast is out nor is it intended to imply that one method of infant feeding needs more support than another. Having been through so many ups and downs of breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, exclusively-pumping and using formula in our own family, I hope this post meets you where you are at - wherever that is. While my hope is that this post will encourage and empower you to be successful in breastfeeding your baby for as long as it is beneficial to you and your family, my main motive with this post is to encourage and empower YOU - as the wonderful, gifted, and life-giving mom you are - in the transition to welcoming a new baby. With this, I will do my best to refer to these as “Busy Boxes” throughout the content of this post.

 
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Activity Closet

When I think of all the nesting activities I did when preparing for my second and later third child, converting our downstairs coat closet into a place to store our toy rotation was one of the best ideas I had. Having all sorts of random toys scattered around the house drives me crazy, so consolidating those by concept helped us to not only manage (or eliminate!) much of the clutter as well as give the kids some guided play into like-toys (i.e. Z is for ZOO bin, I is for INSECT bin, T is for TENT/CAMPING bin, etc.). We still have the kids favorite toys out (like dress up, dolls, play kitchen, the Barbie house, Little People, blocks, etc.) available in the playroom. I find the girls focus on those toys a lot better though when all their toys aren’t out and competing for their attention. Plus, having these bins created easy, effortless prompts for the kids to play with anytime we needed an easy boredom buster. Even better? The clean up is obvious and isolated to everything in the bin goes BACK IN!

Additionally in the activity closet, we hung a shoe rack on the inside of the coat closet door for easy boredom busters. Using Days with Grey Alphabet Activity Cards, we have 26 ideas I don’t have to think up on my own that the girls can go up and grab at any given time.This allows me to keep tools and supplies I need in the shoe pocket with the card or have an easy idea of what we need to get once the girls grab a card. 

For both the toy bins and activity cards,  some require a bit more effort and energy from me. I found that while these options solved the hardest part of being home all day (in my opinion) of coming up with age-appropriate, engaging activities, I knew I also needed some that require little to none of my effort or energy for the times I was also tied up with the baby.

Additionally, I know many of you might be thinking, “We don’t have the space for that.” For the need of fostering as much independence as possible and minimizing the space required for storage, this is where my Busy Boxes come in.


Breastfeeding Busy Boxes

Activities to Engage Siblings When Mom and Baby are Busy

In this post, I will share:

  1. What are Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

  2. What criteria do I look for in Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

  3. What do I Include in Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

  4. What I do NOT include in Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

  5. What are some recommended supplies for Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

Note: This post is NOT intended to bring about feelings of shame nor judgement over screen time. My kids watch TV and get to use our iPad on occasion. That said, as a stay at home mom, I prefer to have set windows when screen time is planned for rather than something used loosely or endlessly. For us, tthis helps manage the otherwise endless requests for tv or the ipad each day because the boundaries on when we use it are clear and consolidated. It also meant that before my second or third child was born, I planned these Busy Box activities with good intention … and a healthy dose of reality. Our Busy Boxes were used often, but also allowed freedom for screen time on occasion as I saw fit, instead of being my default boredom buster or means for entertaining my other little one(s) when breastfeeding. I respect that every family finds what works for them with allowing screen time, just as the activities suggested here are intended to be modified as needed for your family's needs, wants, and schedules. This post is intended to provide age-appropriate alternatives to screen time without insinuating any judgement or entertaining conversation about what is/is not “appropriate” screen time use - particularly in that vulnerable postpartum window!

 

Breastfeeding Busy Boxes

 
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What are Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

When we were preparing for our second daughter to be born, one of the things I was most concerned about was what was I going to do with my older daughter when I needed to tend to her little sister? Sure, there were plenty of ways to engage her in caring for a new baby that I saw and planned to use, but I had heard feedback from some other, more experienced moms with multiples share that having activities to "keep the older one(s) busy" was a key to keeping sanity in those early stages.

That's when I fell in love with the idea of Breastfeeding Busy Boxes. Even though I ended up having to exclusively pump after all, these Busy Boxes became all the more important when feeding took twice the time (being to pump and then bottle feed baby sister). Having these boxes ready allowed me to pull one out before I started pumping so I could then sit there with both of my girls and keep the older one nearby (read: contained) and engaged while I did what I needed to do. I didn't have to worry about her running off around the house when I couldn't follow her, nor asking for something new that was inconveniently out of my reach. I also didn't have to worry about what to do with her feed after feed, day after day, because these busy boxes gave us some fun activities to continue to rotate through, reuse, or recycle for new ideas.


What Criteria Do I Look for in Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

Independence

These boxes should require little to no help from you, should your hands be full and/or you are unavailable to open, tie, clean, or need to heavily monitor an activity. While parental supervision is always encouraged, these should require minimal parental involvement but rather promote fun, safe opportunities for independent play. Note that some of these do require you to be able to read instructions, but minimal “hands on” help should be needed otherwise (in the case your hands are busy holding/feeding a baby).

Open-Ended

Do you know why Daniel Tiger is so popular? Because besides being a great show for young kids, it also keeps them entertained for 23 minutes AKA around the amount of time it often takes us to feed a newborn, put together dinner, and other a million other tasks we could cram into 20 minute stints. This is where my mindset with busy boxes comes in. Ideally, I aim to choose items that I think can entertain my kiddo for at least 10 minute stints. Sure, sometimes they won't be into it at all but other times, they may find a newfound interest in the boxes for even longer than that (i.e. the goal of 20+ minutes so it could in theory replace the need for a show). By rotating these options and reserving them only for when you need them to captivate your child's attention, it promotes the chance that your child will be more willing to sit and use the activity at hand for the stint you need them to.

Mess Free

Now is not the time for paint, water play, or even our beloved DIY water/sensory table. Any of these on a moment's notice might make you feel the need to jump up and get hands on to minimize a mess, which is not when you want while also trying to juggle feeding a baby. That's why it is ideal to keep those activities for when you are more available and reserve more "calm and contained" activities for busy boxes. These are easy to get out and easy to clean up - ideally as soon as your older child is finished playing or younger child is done eating.


What Do I Include in Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

I love the Creative Options Project Boxes from Costco like this. You can use whatever bin, basket, or container you already have though! I just find it most helpful to have a few different Busy Boxes ready at any given time. Since this set from Costco comes in a five pack, I usually select five different options from the following.

Disclaimer: The links below support fellow small businesses. None of these are affiliate links but rather products and people I genuinely love and support. All Amazon links are affiliate links, which Veggies & Virtue receives a small commission for when purchased with. I appreciate your support of my small business as well as the others shared below!

Days with Grey Alphabet Activity Cards: Add the card (i.e. idea!) to the Busy Box with any suggested supplies (i.e. pom poms, counters, tongs, etc.). These are what we have hanging in the shoe rack of the coat closet.

Days with Grey Breakfast Invitations: Get these ready in advance so all you have to do is set them out/up the way you would for a “morning activity” except it is in advance of a feed or whenever you need your child to do them. You can keep all the supplies Beth shares as being needed in the Busy Box so it is ready to put into action. I like to do this when I see her share an idea that I think, “I should totally do that!” but don’t necessarily have the chance to set up when she shares it.

NOTE: Beth of Days with Grey is running a sale through THIS weekend! If you have been wanting to buy something from her shop, be sure to check it out now as we kick off summer break!

Young Wild & Friedman Playdough Kits: We first got these for our girls over Christmas, and they were a HUGE hit! Endless hours of open-ended play. While some pieces can be small (for children under three), these can easily be omitted to entertain a wide age range of kids for a low-mess sensory play option.

The Littles & Me Chalk Doodle Ideas + Sidewalk Chalk: These prompts are so simple and yet perfect to read to your child and let them go after while you sit in the shade and feed your baby this summer. Ashley from The Littles and Me has several fun printables in her shop that we know, love, and use both in Busy Boxes and for more engaged pretend play or intentional time together.

 

Some other favorites include the following:

Note some of these might be items you already have! In that case, I like to just make it a “special” activity by reserving it for certain times. That way, a coloring book is no longer a boring old coloring book and an everyday toy/activity is no longer something that loses its appeal because they can play with it anytime. Instead, it is intentionally set up and ready in a Busy Box to be enjoyed during a window of time when the child is invited and allowed to play with it. Rotate through the toys you already have in your original Busy Boxes, or consider putting a few of these items on your Baby Registry for big brother or sister (see notes on this below at the end of the post)!

Craft Supplies

Letter Practice

Puzzles

Builders

Pattern Play

Pretend Play

By Melissa & Doug

Activity Books


Reader Books

What I Do NOT Include in Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

Choking hazards: As with anything around small children, you want to me cautious to avoid including anything that could be a potential choking hazard

Messy activities: As mentioned above in what TO include, now is not the time for messy activities. Obviously depending on your child, some “less messy” activities (or supplies such as the arts/crafts supplies above) can quickly get messy. Use your discretion with these “minimal mess” supplies so indeed these offer less mess AND less stress!

Two handed items: While you can hold a book that has a spine that stays open, an activity card that is flat and easy to read (or on your phone), or other small, simple to manipulate items, I recommend trying to avoid things that require you to open, twist, cut, or use two hands to help with.


What are Some Recommended Supplies for Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

You can use any sort of basket, container, or bin you have on hand at home. I found these containers at Costco when pregnant a couple of years ago and appreciated that they gave me an organized, consolidated way to prepare four busy bins in advance. That way, I could come up with what I wanted in each at the end of every day or throughout the week as we needed to swap in new ideas.

For more ideas of items we have used and loved (such as those shown above), go to my Amazon shop and look under my ideas list, "Breastfeeding Busy Boxes."


Gift Ideas - to give or to get!

You know how friends with multiple babies rarely “need” a lot (having often received generous showers and baby gifts for baby number one)? Well, these busy boxes are, in my opinion, the perfect gift option for families having another baby. You might wish to get something for mom and baby of course (you can visit my Amazon affiliate shop for those items too!), but something I find an equally great gift is giving big brother or sister a Breastfeeding Busy Box activity kit as well. This helps the mom (or dad!) and baby to bond, work on breastfeeding (or bottle feeding!), or to just have one less thing to come up with in those earlier days of transition when leaving the house just feels like a lot (and thus leaves baby, big brother/sister, and mom/dad at home…A LOT!). So consider some fun ideas you could put together in a special container for the sibling as a less traditional way of serving the entire family in this time of transition. I like to pair a special book with related activity for a Busy Box idea that gets to be reserved specifically when mom (or dad) see fit! Or, if you feel like you already have a lot of the items you need for your next newborn, you might add a few new fun items to help entertain your older child with to your registry!


Be it with breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or bringing about engaging new ideas to any aspect of your motherhood journey thereafter, I hope this list helps you both bond with AND keep your littles busy!

How to involve infants in meal times (before solids are even introduced)

This post includes affiliate links. These do not cost you extra to use but provide a small commission to Veggies & Virtue to help support this small business. Thank you for your support and purchases through my shop!

I receive a lot of questions from parents with infants four to six months old who question if their child is developmentally ready to start solids. It is understandable with conflicting opinion over when to start solids and how to handle that uncertain “in between” when technically you can feed your child and yet might choose not to.

If starting with purees and spoon-feeding, you may be considering starting as early as four months old. At this stage and age, infants are usually unable to sit unsupported. They may not be able to reach for their own food nor handle a spoon independently. Often unable to swallow standard stage 1 solids, parents may thin purees before putting them on a spoon and serving to the child. While self-feeding is inappropriate at this age, parents may feel successful with spoon-feeding solids at this age.

Alternatively, those who wait closer to six months of age to starting solids may have a different experience due to different developmental milestones being met. At this age/stage, infants show the skills necessary to become more independent in their eating. Often able to sit unassisted (or sitting upright with minimal support) and reach for safe first foods offered, infants around six months can begin to safely coordinate self-feeding using an approach like BLW or to begin traditional stage 1 solids.

If you find yourself somewhere in between this window (or even slightly after!) and yet eager to introduce solids, this post will share five ideas for how to involve you infant in meal times before foods are actually offered. Then, you can begin to find the joy of sharing in meals with your infant safely and slowly, based on when they are developmentally ready to do so.

 
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Here are 5 ways to involve infants in meal times (before solids are even introduced)

1 Get comfortable with the routine of having your child join in at meal times

If you are used to being up and about the kitchen at meal times, practice finding new rhythms that will allow you to sit and supervise your newly feeding baby. This will both promote the bonding experience of meal times with your baby while also getting you into the habit of being closely available for safety purposes as well as hands on, as needed, to help with objects that might fall when foods are first introduced.

Preparing for this new season also will likely demand you looking at your schedule to determine when and how you can begin to meal prep a bit, or at least so that there are nourishing options available for your infant. Many items can be made in advance and stored for infants (being purees or BLW options) so that you aren’t having to cook on the spot each time food is to be offered. Depending on the habits your family has for cooking versus eating more convenience foods, this is something to think through so that starting solids becomes less stressful.

For reference: When I meal prep based on my seasonal meal planner, I consider what items I can slightly modify to make baby-friendly for our infant.

2 Choose a high chair

According to most feeding experts, it is ideal to have your infant in a seat that you can look at face to face. This causes family’s to often invest in large high chairs with feeding trays attached or to practice unsafe methods for feeding like Bumbo seats placed upon the kitchen counter or family table. While both options do allow you to look at your baby directly, neither is ideal if you are in the market for a highchair/feeding seat.

Pediatric feeding expert Melanie Potock shared the following in a post provided on Science of Mom. According to Melanie, the Bumbo seat, "puts the child’s pelvis into a posterior tilt, causing pressure on the stomach that can exacerbate reflux and spitting up at mealtimes." So besides the safety aspect of keeping this chair up where the rest of the family enjoys a meal, Bumbos are not considered an ideal seat for infants to eat in.

As for larger high chairs with attached feeding trays, you do not have the ability to bring the baby up to the table to be a part of a meal. These are often used best when babies are fed independent of family meal times, which is not a practice most experts would ever recommend.

Instead, opting for a high chair with a removable tray (so that you can pull the baby up to the table) allows for both safe AND allow your baby to be seated at the table with you. Regardless of whether they are ready for solids yet or not, this offers a valuable time for them to learn to social aspect of sitting with other family members for meals.

For reference, these are the chairs we have/most commonly use:

  • Engaging infants at the table: We use the Stokke Tripp Trapp chair with our third child and have really liked it. It was a bit of a learning curve, which is another reason why I encourage families to get to know their child’s high chair a bit before food is offered. This sets parents and child up for less meal time stress and more feeding success.

  • Engaging infants in the kitchen: We also have this counter-top option, which is another way to engage our babies before food is offered. While we rarely ever offer food in this chair (because it lacks the 90-degree support addressed above), it has allowed each of our children the chance to be up at the counter in a safe and secure way while I am preparing meals.

  • Engaging infants on the go: When traveling or at others houses, we have loved this option as it is easy to pack and set up.

3 Practice having your child sit in their high chair

Many parents ask me what to do when their child doesn’t like the high chair. One of the first things I like to find out is, how much experience did the infant have in the high chair before solids were introduced? If a parent knows that their child was comfortably seated and content in their chair prior to solids being introduced, we can begin to evaluate further what is causing the frustration for the child. If, however, the grand introduction to solids also starts with a high chair the child is unfamiliar with, it can be hard to differentiate if a child is uncomfortable with the opportunity to eat itself or their placement in their new chair.

I have some of my favorite chairs linked to my Amazon shop, but in general, the most ideal options are those that stabilize the ankles, knees, and core all at 90 degree angles (you can read more about this here). This will help to stabilize your child properly for safe feeding from infancy on through their potentially picky eating years (when placement can also be important).

4 Consider other essentials

Wondering how to minimize baths after every meal? What bibs are the most practical to pack for daycare or keep at home for easy cleaning? What about your floors - are you ready for the splatter paint project your infant will soon be working on (that you will want to work against)?

All of these things will quickly come up as you introduce solids. Particularly with self feeding where things get a bit messier, you might want to be prepared so that you find yourself less frustrated and more at peace over the process that will soon take place.

For reference, here are some of the “essentials” in my book:

  • LOTS of wash clothes: I ordered these before we started BLW with our third and we use one per meal to wipe him down with. Then, I toss them in the wash each night. It is so nice to have some fresh, soft wash clothes on hand ready to help clean up once solids are started.

  • Splat mat: This Splat Mat is maybe my number one item, outside of the necessities of a high chair and wash cloth. Otherwise, this thing saves me again and again from the mess that happens on the floor once self-feeding begins. Bumkins ships quickly, which is good because if you start self-feeding without a splat mat, you will likely realize very quickly how much you need one of these. You can also use an old towel, table cloth, or bedsheet (for more full coverage), but I find the lined nature of the splat mat (or lined table cloth) helps protect the floors and wipe clean even easier. You can get 15% off any sized order on Bumkins.com using code VEGGIESVIRTUE15.

  • Bibs: We love our Bapron Baby Bibs for some full body coverage that is machine washable. You can get 10% off using coupon code, “VEGGIES10.” We also have these silicone ones that easily wipe clean or these from Bumkins, which also wash up easily alongside our Baprons.

  • Utensils: With self-feeding, you don’t necessarily need any utensils. However, some babies might enjoy the chance to self-feed themselves with them when given the chance (as addressed below).

  • Cups/Straws: Around six months, infants are encouraged to start using open cup and straws. Offering these instead of a bottle at meal times is another fun way for your infant to begin developing new skills at family meal times. Whether you choose to use breastmilk, formula, or to introduce water at this age/stage is up to you and your child’s pediatrician, any of these may be placed into a transitional cup. The process to effectively drink out of a standard cup vs bottle typically takes time, so starting with products like these highly-recommended trainer cups or an ezpz Tiny Cup may help introduce your infant to a new mouth feel for consuming fluids.

5 Practice with utensils

When infants are offered solids prematurely, they often lack the hand-eye coordination to not only hold a spoon but also to bring that spoon to their mouth for a successful bite. One of the wonderful ways to engage infants during meal times before they show readiness to eat is to allow their exploration of how to use utensils. This offers them something to do while seated at the table apart from playing with a completely unrelated toy. Giving clean, infant-sized spoons is a fun and developmentally appropriate way to introduce your child to utensils before they actually “need” to know what they are for. Such familiarity helps them understand the purpose, sensation, and skills required for holding a spoon in their hand, bringing it to their mouth, cupping their lips around it, and the mouth feel of it inside the mouth on their tongue.

If you are feeling really brave, consider giving your child a bowl that will stick to the table or their high chair tray with frozen breast milk in it. Freezing it is a thin layer on a pyrex dish then stirring up to have a “slushie” consistency offers them an age-appropriate offering for meal times. Furthermore, the texture is safer than allowing infants to eat ice cubes or chips and yet a firm enough consistency where they may practice their spoon skills with some “reward” for their hard work (compared to a bare spoon). This is best executed using products like this first feeding set so that the silicone slip-proof base helps lessen the chance for an utter mess or your hard earned breastmilk (or formula) ending up on the floor.

For reference, these are the utensils we have/most commonly use:

  • Goo-tensils: These are the ideal pre-feeder utensil. Unfortunately, they are rarely available on Amazon due to limited supply from Num Num. I spoke with a representative from their team and was advised that directly on their site or from local small shops may be the best places to find these until more retailers are restocked. I had to pay twice the price of the set we have due to such limited supply (on Amazon).

  • Chewtensils: These are a great option to begin introducing once infants begin to master bringing a utensil to their mouth. Use code VEGGIESVIRTUE15 for 15% off any sized order on Bumkins.com.

In Summary

Hopefully this helps give you some items to brainstorm on before starting solids. With a little pre-planning, you can plan on a smoother start to solids - whenever that might be!

Do you still want more help with how to get started in introducing solids?

I am a member of the International Infant Nutrition Network of Registered Dietitians. This network provides evidenced-based resources for families who want information and support with introducing solid using a Baby Led Weaning approach. For more information on the courses available, please visit here.