Weaning is the start of a wonderful adventure with the introduction of a whole new world of flavours, textures and taste sensations. But unless you are blessed with a child who embraces and loves all food, never gets frustrated and has the table manners of a prince or princess, it can also be a pretty challenging time! So we’ve teamed up with our friends over at Tidy Tot to launch our #freedomtowean campaign.
What is #freedomtowean?
The #freedomtowean campaign is all about supporting you and your little one through the challenges of weaning and encouraging independent feeding. With some expert advice, helpful hints and tips and our recommendations on the best weaning equipment to help you on your way, we hope to be able to make your weaning journey that little bit easier and more fun for both you and your little one.
For us, weaning and the introduction of solids is all about giving your child the freedom to explore and discover their food. Eating is not a skill that babies are born with and learning this new skill involves using and stimulating as many of their senses as possible throughout the weaning journey.
As part of their Sensory Weaning approach, developed with award-winning children’s nutritionist Sarah Almond Bushell, Tidy Tot recommends letting your baby immerse themselves 100% in the food that is offered to them. Once you as the parent have decided what your baby is going to eat, when and where, let your baby be in charge of the food they then choose to pick up, play with, throw on the floor, or put into their mouth – as messy as that sounds! In helping them become an independent eater, let them use their hands, have their own cutlery, squish food into their highchair tray or between their fingers – it’s all part of the sensory experience of food and ultimately learning how to eat.
doddl’s expert partner, Stacey Zimmels, Feeding and Swallowing Specialist Speech and Language Therapist from Feed Eat Speak, knows how important it is to have products that make it easy for your little one to enjoy mealtime success:
Start as you mean to go on..
If you start with cutlery early you can avoid the drama of a confused toddler – wondering why mum or dad now wants them to start eating with ‘tools’ when they are quite happy eating with their hands or for you to feed them. Using suitable cutlery (like doddl baby cutlery) when you first start introducing food will help connect food and mealtimes with cutlery. It’s all about letting babies explore and associate cutlery with their food.
Crucial to this experience of food is allowing your baby to be free to wean! They may squish and drop their food, but with the right weaning products at your side you can be confident in your little one’s weaning journey. Cutlery should be available for your child to use and experiment with, and being able to hold it, drop it and interact with it in a normal way is absolutely key to developing the dexterity, coordination and control that they will need when transitioning to adult cutlery in the future.
Top tips for encouraging confidence and independence at mealtimes
- Offer a wide variety of different textures for your little one to try.
- As Stacey Zimmels says, the tray or table should be pushed right up to your little one, so that there’s no problem reaching all that delicious food. And forget those old etiquette rules. Elbows on the table are actively encouraged because they help support those vital motor skills, and make finger feeding or picking up a loaded spoon so much easier.
- Always put the highchair at the family table if that is where you eat your meals. Try to eat together when you can (not always possible in a busy family!). Encouraging your little one to learn where meals take place will help make this part of their routine. It will also help later down the line to keep boundaries around eating, staying at the table and family mealtimes too.
- Talk about the food, its colour, shape and texture as they eat and describe what they are experiencing, eg “your yoghurt is so cold and slippery!”
- Encourage your baby to handle their own cutlery, spearing food with their fork and chopping. doddl’s children’s knife is perfect for this, with its clever, ergonomic design that allows children from 18+ months to safely chop their own food, building confidence and independence at mealtimes.
- Don’t constantly wipe and clean as they eat – allow them to make their mess and when it is time to clean up let baby get involved with these cute Tidy Tot Bamboo Wash Mitts.
Cutlery to support independence at mealtimes
The unique shape of the doddl handles make this cutlery so simple for little hands to get to grips with, making mealtimes more enjoyable from the start. The contours of the handles and colourful soft touch areas also encourage motor skill development, helping to strengthen the pincer grip, building co-ordination and control. The doddl knife blade chops all types of food but is certified safe with a cleverly designed handle that sits in the palm making it easy to chop through food. The doddl fork prongs function brilliantly, making it easy for children to use, yet are certified safe. Specially designed to make it easy to transition to adult cutlery when the time is right, this doddl set is recommended by experts and multiple award winning and is the perfect cutlery set to encourage independent feeding.
Why we love Tidy Tot:
It’s easy to advise relaxing, letting go and allowing your child to produce an enormous mess as they enjoy exploring and discovering their food. But let’s face it, no one wants to face that clean up operation afterwards! That’s why Tidy Tot developed their award-winning Bib & Tray Kit – designed to eliminate the gap between baby and highchair to stop food being dropped onto baby’s lap, inside their highchair or onto the floor.
With these handy tools by your side, we hope you feel confident to embrace the #freedomtowean and set yourself and your baby on course to developing healthy habits which encourage confidence and independence from the beginning of your weaning adventure!