Thursday, 11 April 2013

Starting solids? LFW Top 10 must have equipment

Starting solids? Geeez at first it feels like a bit of a minefield. It's not though and here are Little Feather Wolf's TOP TEN, things you'll need to get started.

1. Saucepan with lid

At first you'll be cooking/steaming your carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, parsnips, apples, pears and peaches to make purées galore and will need a good old fashion saucepan.

Bog standard saucepan

2. Steamer 

It was all about steaming veges and fruit in our household at first (this is one of the betterways to retain their goodness and vitamins if cooking). We didn't have a steamer, but just used our trusty colander above the saucepan, and enclosed the top with the saucepan lid. Easy and works perfectly!

Steamer, or if don't have... colander

3. Small blender or hand held one

A small or handheld blender for puréeing small-first-taste quantities. Also good for soft fruits. We were lent this baby blender by some lovely friends (thanks KD!).

Hand held or baby blender

4. Blender or food processor

Useful for puréeing bigger portions/larger batches for freezing. We have one of Breville's blenders, see below which we had already. It's a great for making adult smoothies as well as bubba purées now and is pretty powerful, with a BPA free jug.

Breville The Kinetix® Pro Blender

5. Mouli

Maybe not an essential if you have your small and large blender, but we also got and found useful our mouli. Moulis are great for puréeing potato as it can become sticky in a food processor because it breaks down the starch. The mouli creates, instead, the best creamiest mash ever. It's also good for separating tough fibres in the likes of dried apricots, sweetcorn or green beans which can be hard for babies to digest at first. I really like the one we have... it’s stainless steel, super easy to clean and has 3 different grates, so you can get different consistencies/textures of purée: fine, medium and coarse, great as baby develops.

Emmanuel Mouli from Kitchen Direct

6. Containers to store/freeze solids

See selection below.

Babble silicone ice tray
We started off with the Babble silicone tray for Essie's first tastes, which by the way was carrot. I was so nervous about preparing the first food in case it was too lumpy and worried about choking, it was more like stained carrot milk, hardly any carrot in there at all! This tray didn't have a lid, so we'd wrap the cooked purées tightly in cling film and once frozen transfer in to a zip lock freezer bag.

At the very beginning, babies only eat a teeny weeny amount, ie. one 'cube'. A tray like this is pretty redundant though fairly quickly as your baby starts to eat more. However I found it useful when I wanted to spruce up the single purées and mix and match them. Goodbye lonely broccoli  make some room for your friends tomato and pumpkin. Vege medleys here we come.

Also thought this tray will be good with it's funky cube design, to fill with puréed fruit again, as Essie gets bigger to spruce up her water.

Heinz Press 'N' Pop freezer pods (30mls & 90mls)
Heinz Press 'N' Pop freezer pods (30mls & 90mls)
From a cube to a pod. Next stop for us was the Heinz Press 'N' Pop freezer pods, lent to us by friends. These held 30mls, which was more than our ice cube tray and so were a good progression. As the appetite grew, I started using two 30ml pods, either with the same contents, i.e. two chicken casserole, or I’d mix it up with one grilled red pepper/capsicum and one cauliflower cheese and another time one red pepper and one roasted pumpkin. You get the picture? Means it’s really easy to vary the tastes and flavours by doing lots of different combos.

I've also used the Heinz 90ml pods to serve food up in, but not yet that size portion to eat.

Wean Meister freezer pods
We purchased the Wean Meister freezer pods which are great for a bit later down the line. Each pod carries about 75mls and we use these most of the time now and have been since Es was about 8 months. These are silicone, BPA free and I love the fact it’s a tray and so you’re not juggling with multiple containers, they’re easy to clean (and dishwasher safe) and easy to remove the frozen food out.

Avent milk storage containers
I also use(d) the Avent milk storage containers. I didn't buy these specifically for food, I had them for storing breast milk, which I only actually used them for a few times. I find them useful for defrosting my frozen food in, could pop in one of the above frozen pods and leave them in the storage container to defrost with lid/and or in the microwave.

My selection of food storage containers
In summary you really don’t need as many containers as me although they've all been great. You could even get away with a good ice cube tray and keep adding an extra cube as bubba’s belly grows.

7. Zip Lock Freezer bags

Once your solids have frozen you can transfer them in to a zip lock, resealable, freezer bags. Make sure you get some with panels on the front for writing, so you can date and describe what foods going in it. Otherwise you’ll be overwhelmed with orange purées and who'll know if it's pumpkin or peach!

Coles small and large Snap Seal Resealable Bags

8. Bib

Invest in a good food catching bib. I think they’re great. Ok, they won’t completely stop you having to clean (can you tell I’m no domestic goodness!!), but every little bit helps right? And, means a little less food on the floor, plus you can recycle the spillage. Another mouthful for bubba! Mine were from Big W, they’re silicone and easy to clean.

Catchy food bib

9. Spoons

You’ll need a few good weaning spoons. I picked up a set of 4 when I was back home in England. They’ll be shallow with a soft tip, so nice and gentle on baby’s gums.

Shallow, soft tip, weaning spoon

10. Sippy cup

We started Essie on solids at 6 months and had read that this can be a good time to introduce using a cup as well (although some babies aren’t interested yet!). So along with the introduction to solids, Essie had her first tiny taste of water. From then on and with every meal I’ll always offer a little water in her sippy cup. Got to get her used to the good stuff!

Sippy water cup

I know I said Top 10, but one little extra must have:  invest in some good hand cream. You’ll be doing soooooo much washing up from now on in...
Really is, apart from the washing up, a really brilliant and exciting time. Enjoy enjoy enjoy.  X

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