When it’s time to intro your baby to the world of solid food, there’s a learning curve for both parent and child. As they discover new tastes, textures, and techniques you’ll learn how to tackle a whole new level of messy while keeping up with their growing appetite. We’re not gonna lie, it’s a lot of work! And since we can’t literally give you a hand in the kitchen, we’ve rounded up some tried-and-true tips that’ll make KP duty a wee bit easier.
Here are 20 helpful kitchen hacks for feeding your baby. We’ll break it down into three categories: Prep Time, Mealtime, and Cleanup Time.
#1 Copy & Puree.
You want to make your own homemade purees (go you!) and you want them to taste gooood! Don’t reinvent the wheel–just look at the ingredient lists on those popular fruit and veggie pouches available at the store and replicate them at home!
A few tips:
- Remember, ingredients are listed in order of highest to lowest amount. Let that be your guide!
- Steam and roast your fruits and veggies (see tip #5 for a shortcut!), then marry everything together in a mini food processor, immersion blender, or mixer. Your blends don’t have to be perfectly smooth–in fact, experts recommend a little texture for your baby nomster.
- Store and freeze them in little jars, glass food containers, reusable pouches, or silicone ice cube trays. Check out tip #2 for other ideas!
#2 Waste Not!
When your baby starts solids, they’ll consume lots of purees, mashes, and soft foods. And since they rarely finish it all in one sitting, find easy and delicious ways to utilize those leftovers.
- DIY Drops: Squeeze, scoop, or drop small (round-ish) puree portions onto parchment paper or into silicone ice cube trays, pop them in the freezer for a few hours, then store them in a freezer-safe container or bag. Now you have handy, healthy snacks or mini-meals!
- Extra roasted veggies? Make mini egg muffin cups.
#3 Make Simple Swaps.
Stick to your #budgetgoals by avoiding the “baby food” aisle. Just because you’re feeding a tiny human doesn’t mean you have to fall for that marketing trap! With modifications, your baby can *almost* always chow down on exactly what you’re eating.
- Instead of pricey applesauce or yogurt pouches, buy a regular ol’ jar of organic applesauce and a large container of plain, whole milk yogurt. (Pro tip: choose the kind with no added sugar!)
- Instead of puffs, serve cooked smashed peas, beans, or pieces of freeze dried fruit.
- Instead of crackers, offer squares of soft bread.
- Instead of baby cereal, dish up regular oatmeal. For beginner eaters, grind the dry oats in a food processor before cooking them as usual.
- Instead of yogurt melts, freeze “drops” of plain yogurt (combined with a fruit-based puree if you’d like!) and store them in a freezer-safe container.
- Note: This is not to hate on baby convenience foods and snacks. There’s certainly a time and place for them–like when you need a shelf-stable pouch for the diaper bag! But if you’re on a budget, try out these subs as often as you can!
#4 Don’t Be a Short-Order Cook.
Just because there’s an extra mouth to feed now, doesn’t mean you have to cook a special, separate meal for them Every. Single. Night. As often as possible, plan to make one dish for your entire family and feed components of that meal to your baby. Example: If you made roasted chicken and vegetables for dinner, mash the veggies with a fork or blitz them in a mini-food processor (with some chicken broth!) for a speedy, baby-friendly meal.
#5 Brrr-owse the Freezer Section.
Now is prime time to let your baby taste the rainbow of fruits and veggies but, breathe easy, you don’t have to spend hours upon hours washing produce and chopping it at the kitchen counter. Just opt for frozen veggies instead of fresh. They’re SO easy to steam and you won’t have to bust out your knife and cutting board! Plus, most frozen fruit and veggies are frozen at their peak ripeness and freshness, so you’ll get the most nutrient bang for your buck! Another plus? Frozen foods generate 47% less food waste in the home compared to other foods. Better for your budget AND the planet!
#6 Get A Grip.
Roll slippery foods (like avocado, banana, etc.) in a little bit of flaxseed meal, hemp seeds, or wheat germ. They’ll be easier for your kid to grasp and will add in some extra nutrition (but we can’t promise it won’t be messy!). OR Use a crinkle cutter to cut foods into little pieces. The jagged edges are easier for babies to pick up.
#7 Make It “Grate.”
When in doubt, grate it! If not prepared right, some foods, like apples or cheese, are choking hazards for babies. Grate fruits and veggies then add them to yogurt or let your little one play in the shavings to practice their pincer grasp.
#8 Stretch It Out.
As your baby’s appetite grows, bulk up their purees by mixing them into yogurt, oatmeal, or other foods you’ve prepared. If anything feels too thick, mix in some extra virgin olive oil, breastmilk, formula, broth, or water. You can also add purees to pancake batter, homemade muffins, or soup.
#9 Ask An Expert.
Need to know if a certain food is safe for your baby to eat, plus how to prepare it for their specific age? Visit Solid Starts and their incredible food database. While they advocate for baby-led weaning, their information can be helpful for any feeding approach!
#10 Slice & Dice.
As your baby transitions from super soft, gum-friendly noms to foods with textures they can sink their teeny teeth into, you’ll be a pro at cutting anything and everything into mini-bites. To make the job faster and more fun? Use kitchen scissors or a pizza cutter to cut various foods into baby-sized pieces.
#11 Catch Those Crumbs.
Place a clean towel, sheet, waterproof mat, or tablecloth under the highchair. It’ll spare your floor from the onslaught of splatters and spills–especially when your baby decides to tell you they’re “all done” by dropping bowls, utensils, and globs of food on the ground.
#12 Dine ‘em in a Diaper.
At some point you’ll be DONE with trying to get food stains out of your baby’s clothes. It’s A-OK to let them eat in the buff…especially at dinner time when they’re headed for the bathtub as part of their nighttime routine anyway!
#13 Maximize Storage.
High chairs can take up valuable real estate in small kitchens. Besides being your baby’s personal eating space, they can also double as a storage solution. Place a Command Hook or Caddy on the back and use it to hold bibs, rags, baby spoons, and placemats.
#14 Make ‘Em Think It’s THEIR Idea.
Ever notice how, no matter what you’re eating or drinking, your baby wants a piece of it? Use this to your advantage! Next time they refuse to eat what’s on their plate, don’t be pushy. Instead just focus on eating your own food and wait for them to reach for it. Then, happily offer them a bite. :)
#15 Serve “Fast” Food.
When you’re strapped for time, pop whole fruits or veggies into a mesh or silicone feeder and hand it off to your lil’ eater. It’s a safe and easy way for your baby to self-feed–and they’ll still get plenty of nutrients as they gnaw. Got a fussy teether on your hands? Use frozen fruit or veggies to help soothe sore gums.
#16 Beat The Heat.
When your kiddo is hangry, it can seem like a lifetime for hot food to cool down. Speed up the process by tossing frozen berries or vegetables into hot oatmeal or soup.
#17 Save That Baby Face.
#18 Wipe Without The Gripe.
Some babies HATE having their face wiped down with a rag. But parents gotta do what parents gotta do. If yours is a cleanup saboteur, try these tactics:
- Always use a warm wash rag when it’s time to clean their hands and face. It feels much less jarring!
- Try using a softer rag, such as a Swedish dishcloth. Your baby might actually enjoy the feel of the smooth texture on their chubby cheeks!
- Instead of a washrag, use your hand dipped in warm water to wash off any food particles.
- Spray their hands and face with a water bottle before wiping them clean (obviously, use a gentle touch here!). This might just become their fav part of mealtime.
- If they’re teething, let them chew on a warm textured rag while you get the job done with another.
#19 Dress For Dinnertime Success.
Designate a few inexpensive onesies or footies specifically for table time. You’ll care a lot less when they get soiled and stained by spaghetti, beets, or blueberries. Wash them with the kitchen laundry (rags, dish towels, etc.) to avoid dirtying any “regular” clothes. PS: We also love extra large bibs, silicone bibs with catchers, or feeding smocks!
#20 Dine Al Fresco!
If the weather permits, take things outside! Let your cutie gobble and guzzle their food in a shady spot and leave their crumbs behind. Plus, an extra hot day = a great excuse to hose off the high chair and let it dry in the sun.
What are your best kitchen hacks for feeding your foodie in a flash? Share your tips with us in the comments!