Weaning can be fun, but most parents are shocked by the mess and food waste it can create!
At Mamamade, we encourage parents to help their babies explore new flavours and textures through exposure to lots of different foods.
When we say exposure, we don't mean that food will (or should!) always end up in your baby’s mouth. When babies are learning how to eat, food will often end up anywhere but their mouths and tummies - which includes on the floor, on the walls, in your hair, or in the dog’s mouth instead!
Throwing food on the floor can be a fun game for babies. Babies are curious, and it’s exciting to see what might happen when food is launched from their fist onto the carpet, and they often relish their parents' reactions.
But for parents who are environmentally conscious, the amount of food waste that's produced during weaning can be shocking! We've put together out top tips for reducing food waste during weaning to help parents save their efforts, money, walls and carpets...
Tips on Reducing Food Waste During Weaning
Don't offer too much
Bulk or batch cooking can seem like an amazing idea for saving time, but while your baby is being introduced to a variety of different flavours it can be best to start small. It's frustrating for parents to spend hours in the kitchen only to throw most of what they cooked away - a couple of steamed broccoli florets is probably enough in the very early stages!
If you do want to freeze some of the meals you cook for later, then consider limiting portion sizes when serving. This is a good idea even if you're not batch cooking.
Only offer your baby a small amount of food at a time, and when that’s eaten you can offer a little bit more. This is a good idea because 1) there’s less risk of a whole plate of food going overboard, and 2) there's no risk of the remaining food being contaminated with baby's saliva and fingers, so it's safe to freeze.
Offer foods that you like
Veg puree is great for your baby’s first taste of bitter solids, but veg puree leftovers for mum and dad? Err, no thanks!
Think about offering your baby foods you'll also enjoy, such as smashed avocado on toast. Prepare your avo toast for breakfast as normal, and cut off a couple of fingers for baby to try. If they like them, they can have a little more. If they're left untouched, the you can finish them up yourself. Avo toast for mum or dad + no waste = winning!
Invest in the right tools
For babies who prefer bowls to be thrown on the floor (goodbye beige carpets!), consider investing in bowls and plates with suction pads on the bottom that can be fixed to the table or high chair. We know teaching baby not to throw bowls on the floor is the ultimate goal, but it's one way of solving the problem! 🤷♀️
It's also a good idea to buy practical bibs which catch large chunks of food before they hit the floor, if you're concerned about mess.
Cover the floor
Try placing a clean, plastic floor covering (like a tablecloth, or some vinyl) under your baby's high chair. This isn’t just great for saving carpets and hardwood floors. It also means if food gets dropped then can be safely picked up and put back on the tray without contamination.
Compost food waste
Another benefit of covering the floor is that it's easy to scoop up any leftovers and pop them straight into the compost bin. This is great for babies who are being weaned on a plant-based diet, as the ingredients will all be compostable. This helps food waste ending up in landfill.
Relax - it won’t be forever
Remember, this period only lasts for a short time, and whilst no-one wants to waste food, your baby won't be exploring food in this way forever (trust us).
In the long term, a child who develops picky eating habits is likely to waste more food throughout their childhood than a baby who rejects small amounts of food offered while they're learning to eat.
Babies who are encouraged to explore with their senses and make a bit of mess during weaning are less likely to develop picky eating habits in the long run.
So try not to stress too much about food waste during weaning - you're doing a great job.
If you're looking for more weaning tips then download our Free Weaning Guide, a fantastic, free tool we've created together packed with expert tips and advice to help parents on their weaning journey.