Feeding solids on the go
Starting at about age 4 to 6 months, your child will probably start eating solid food — so get ready to add soft spoons, dishes, bibs, and more to your already bulging diaper bag.
What helps: Disposable or plastic-coated bibs.
Disposable bibs are really extra-thick paper towels with Velcro-like closures that you toss after one use. Plastic-coated bibs can be wiped clean with a wipe or napkin and machine-washed when you get home. Portable placemats. Portable placemats that you can lay down on restaurant tables or highchair trays give you the peace of mind of knowing that your baby’s eating off of a clean surface. You’ll find reusable or disposable mats made of plastic — these are handy because they don’t slip. Disposable placemats (essentially heavy-duty paper towels) also do the trick, but they don’t stay put as well as the plastic ones.
Mini-food dicer. Tired of cutting your baby’s food into bite-size pieces?
A food dicer does the job quickly for you and is small enough to fit in your diaper bag. Just drop the fruits, vegetables, meat, or poultry that you want to feed your baby into the dicer, press a few times, and the meal is ready to serve, safely.
Knowing the safety rules of baby food.
If you’re offering food from a jar or container, don’t dip the spoon back into the food after it’s touched your child’s mouth unless you’re sure he’ll eat it all (or you don’t want to save what’s left). The spoon will contaminate the remaining food with bacteria. Instead, use a clean spoon to scoop a small amount of food into a bowl and serve from there. Once a jar of commercial baby food has been opened, it will keep — refrigerated — for 24 to 48 hours (read the jar’s label for specifics: Fruits keep longer than meats). If you don’t have access to a refrigerator, sandwich any leftovers in ice packs in an insulated cooler. When in doubt, throw it out. It’s better not to risk serving contaminated food.
Clip-on seat or self-inflating booster.
Helpful whether you’re dining in a restaurant or at a friend’s house, these seats attach to virtually any table, or even a picnic bench. A self-inflating booster is compact enough to fit in most diaper bags or backpacks.
Disposable snack cups.
Fill a couple of plastic cups with fitted tops with snacks appropriate for your child’s age: rice cereal for an infant (add breast milk, formula, or water when you’re ready to feed), toasted O’s cereal, teething biscuits, goldfish crackers, mandarin oranges, peeled and sliced grapes. These containers keep food from spilling or getting crushed — and they make great serving bowls for jarred food, too.
Infant- and toddler-sized disposable spoons are useful for mixing cereal and for feeding your baby. And you don’t have to worry about cleaning them to take home.
Mini-insulated tote bag.
A small cooler bag with ice packs keeps formula, juice, yogurt, cheese, and other perishable foods fresh until you need them. If your baby is still eating just a few foods, it will make your life easier if you keep them on hand and then “supplement” with appropriate foods available wherever you happen to be eating.
For longer outings such as road trips, a portable refrigerator with a car adapter (which can also be plugged into a standard electric outlet) keeps jars of opened baby food, snacks, breast milk, and prepared formula cool.
Tip: Even when you’re at home, offer jarred baby food at room temperature rather than heating it. That way, when you’re out (where warming it up would be inconvenient), your baby will enjoy it just as it is.