6 Essentials for Feeding Your Toddler

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Oh, the joys of pre-toddlerhood.

Baby Bird is learning to walk. She’s still saying Dada (to heck with Mama, I guess). She’s growing like a weed. And she’s adamant about feeding herself.

I’m excited about her self-feeding, but the development has led me to buy more baby gear. Unlike when Baby Bird was a newborn, I haven’t bought every item every expert says every baby needs. I’ve really tried to stick to essentials.

Besides food (duh), there are six things you need to help Little One transition to “real food.”

Ready? Let’s prep for mealtime.

  1. A drop cloth, sheet, or shower curtain. Even if your carpet is the crappiest in the world, you still don’t want bits of egg or sweet peas crushed into it. Put something under the baby’s high chair, then shake the food out onto the lawn once lunch is over. The rug will stay clean, and the wildlife will get a treat. Everyone wins.
  2. Munchkin Sesame Street Toddler Fork and Spoon ($3.20). This set is awesome. I was initially concerned about the metal, but Baby Bird handles it fine. The spoon won’t hold more than she can fit into her mouth, and the fork’s tines are short and rounded (though I still help her pick up small pieces and guide them to her mouth).
  3. Butily Waterproof Baby Bibs ($15.99 for two). Mr. T has suggested undressing Baby Bird each time we feed her. That would keep her clothes clean, but I don’t want her to think dinner is always a nearly naked occasion. These bibs protect whatever she’s wearing, including from milk or water, and they catch some food before it hits the floor. (BPA- and PVC-free)
  4. Munchkin LATCH Transition Cup ($4.40). The shift from bottle to sippy has been slow, but this cup is a huge help. Baby Bird can hold it on her own because of the handles, and the nozzle works much the same way a bottle does. (Yes, I’ve tried both bottle and cup, and they require the same sucking motion.) If you have larger Munchkin LATCH bottles, you can move the sippy lid and handles onto them — no need to carry around a bunch of 4-ouncers. (BPA-free)
  5. ezpz Mini Mat ($19.99). You didn’t plan to give Little One a REAL PLATE, did you? No, you need this plate in your life. My great friend, Lisa, gifted this to Baby Bird when she was a hatchling, and it’s become an integral part of mealtime. It suctions to her high chair, so if she wants to throw food at me, she has to do it piece by piece. If you’re looking for something more substantial, consider the happy mat, which is a placemat and plate in one. (BPA-free)
    ezpz Mini Mat
  6. Patience. Meals with my pre-toddler can take 45 minutes or more. No one should take that much time to eat, but my child does and I’m sure others do, too. It’s hard not to take over, but self-feeding is an essential part of growing up. So, just take a deep breath and smile at how adorable your baby looks when she chews.

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Toddler Mealtime Gear You Can't Live Without
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