1. Go prepared
At this stage, your baby is just getting used to solids, so rather than relying on being able to buy something he’ll enjoy from the nearest café or corner shop, it’s best to take a tried and tested meal with you. Either grab a favourite jar, decant a small amount of home-made puree into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid, or take a no-cook meal like a soft banana, along with a bowl and fork to mash it.
2. Think safety
If you’re going to be out and about for a long time, take food that won’t go yucky in your bag. Yoghurts may be portable and popular, but are liable to go off if they’re sitting under the pushchair for hours on a hot day. A small insulated bag with extra ice packs can help keep food fresh.
3. How to heat
If your baby prefers his food warm, think about how you’ll heat it when you’re out and about. Many establishments will heat baby food or provide a microwave for customer use. Alternatively, you could heat the food until piping hot before leaving home and then put it in an insulated bag, or take a flask of boiling water and a bowl so you can stand the tub of food in the water to warm it.
4. Choose your venue
It’s not always easy to plan ahead, but think about where you’ll feed your baby. If you’re booking a restaurant for a family meal, phone ahead to check that they’re baby-friendly, with high chairs and facilities to heat food. If it’s an unplanned trip out, look for a laid back café where there are lots of other children, or opt for an al fresco pushchair picnic on a park bench.
5. Sitting comfortably?
Don’t count on being able to find a high chair for your baby. You may need to feed him in his pushchair or car seat, so it’s worth taking a couple of big muslins to cover the upholstery and limit sticky spills. There’s also a huge range of portable high chairs on the market, from plastic booster seats to simple fabric harnesses that tie to a normal dining chair.
6. Keep it clean
If you’re feeding your baby on the run, don’t forget to take at least one bib – you can get disposable paper bibs, or roll-up designs intended for travel – along with wipes and a change of clothes for your tot.
7. Time it right
Babies are creatures of habit, so try to stick to his usual feeding routine, even if you’re in a different environment. Try to feed him too early or too late, and chances are you’ll end up with a screeching baby and a stressed out mummy.
8. Go for damage limitation
Yes, you’ll feel embarrassed if your baby leaves a trail of devastation behind, but practice makes perfect. If you’re concerned about the mess he’s likely to make, choose (relatively) clean food options – no tomato pasta, for example – or go for a finger food meal so you can scoop up dropped pieces easily. If he does make a mess, just do your best to tidy the worst and leave a big tip!
9. Snack smart
Good portable snacks for your newly weaned baby include soft ripe fruit, rice cakes, breadsticks and low-sugar rusks. Don’t forget that he’ll still need regular milk feeds, too; if he’s formula-fed, remember to take bottles and milk powder with you.
10. Be patient
With so many sights and sounds to take in, your baby may be distracted from his meal and eat less than he would at home. Try not to worry; one missed meal won’t do him any harm at all, and even if he eats next to nothing, he’s learning valuable lessons in eating in different environments.
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