Category Archives: Baby Lead Weaning

Baby Led Weaning Mealtime Mess Prevention


First of all, you will not prevent a mess starting solids this way, so my title is a big fat lie. Just forget about it. You can, however, diminish it just a little.

But it’s messy. Plain and simple. For its ease in meal planning, it is just as difficult in the cleanup arena. Just look at this…

The dark underbelly of baby-led weaning

So far, here’s what I’ve learned…

1. Put an old tablecloth under the highchair. It helps to have more than one. This serves to keep you from mopping up 3 times a day, but it also helps to keep you from wasting every bit of that fresh mozzarella you just paid $8 for.

That banished avocado slice shall soon find its way back to have an audience with the princess.

2. Long-sleeve bibs are life savers. In England, apparently, you can find these everywhere and they are made of some type of cloth. They look better than the ones I’ve found online (because I can’t find them in stores). I bought Bumpkins brand and Kushies. Sugarpie is so tiny that the Kushies fits her better right now. I throw them all in the washer and dryer. These are great for the mid-day meals and eating out because Sugarpie doesn’t go straight to the bath. I let her eat a plum with a regular bib and was very tempted to hose her down in the yard. Here’s a link to find them on Amazon.

The Kushies bib, at its arm-protecting best. Now, if we could just find something for their sweet little faces…

3. Remove the tray BEFORE you wipe down their hands. As soon as you clean those tiny fingers, one by one, they are guaranteed to go right back to smearing around the hummus in the 2 seconds it takes you to get the tray unclasped.

This is what they like to get their clean hands/arms back into. Also, see why I shoulda used a long-sleeve bib?

4. I bought a cheap pack of thin baby washcloths that I use exclusively for clean up. I start with her face, then her hands, her feet (and sometimes legs). I do a preliminary wipe of the footrest, then I rinse the cloth and wipe the chair once more. It goes into the washer with the rest of the day’s casualties.

The alternative here is to get very stressed out about keeping everything clean and preventing messes altogether during mealtime by tying their hands to chair and feeding them yourself. While I’m exaggerating just a tad, I find this not only impractical, but lacking in any kind of fun whatsoever. I want little Georgia to approach food with a spirit of excitement and adventure, just like Mommy and Daddy. So far, so good.

Any other tips are welcome! Just leave a comment, I would love to hear it.

For now, I’m off to clean up…

Burrata is Finger-Lickin’ Good


I came home from the store yesterday afternoon too late to really cook anything for Sugarpie. (She usually eats around 5:30 due to her self-chosen 7:00 bedtime.) She loves burrata and mozzarella and I try to give her the latter at least once a week. But yesterday, I saw that the store is now carrying burrata! I mean, mozzarella stuffed with cream?! Who wouldn’t love that.

So she had burrata and peaches for dinner. I have never seen her ignore the fruit for anything savory. Until now.

AND she licks her little fingers. I had to share.

The Clip-On Highchair, Italian Space-Saving Genius


There she is at home, eating her first strawberry. The world will never be the same.

While we were in Italy, the most common high-chair provided in restaurants was a clip-on high-chair. Every now and then, there would be a tall chair with NO restraint, like a miniature barstool (um, no thanks!), so we would just hold Sugarpie on our laps.

Space is always a premium in Italy, so these high-chairs offered restaurants a family-friendly and space-friendly option. You can imagine, that it does the same in your own home.

There were always three different brands: Inglesina, Chicco (pronounced KEE-koh, people), and some other that I don’t remember.

Now Ettore, you know you can’t have no sugar! That was the Inglesina chair in Italy.

The first was an Inglesina. It was a pretty spruce green and had a strap inside that wrapped from the back to the front where it clips under a Velcro cover. The clamps were short (adaptable to more types of tables) and the hold was steady.

Daddy is getting bread for her in the Chicco chair in Siena.

The Chicco was great too, but the under-table clamps were so long that it limited the types of tables we could use it with. The third one had a cotton knit lining and a strap that was hard to adjust. The first two have a material that is more receptive to spot cleaning.

This was the not-so-memorable third brand at an al fresco lunch in some Prosecco vineyards.

We were so in love with this chair that we decided to buy one once we got home. We have a lovely Svan hand-me-down, but this chair is going to be great for travel, etc.

I did a little research and found that the Inglesina is sold through Amazon and It had great reviews, confirmed by our own good experience with it in Italy. It has a storage pocket in the back and a pouch that stores the tote bag under the bottom. Sugarpie feels really secure and it’s so cute having her at the table with us.

They come in a ton of different colors, but I resisted the temptation of some light bright color in favor of a less-stain-apparent dark green. It’s made in Italy instead of China, which makes me trust the quality more.

I can also spread out our mess-prevention table cloth under the chair on the ground instead of draping it over the highchair base.

The only drawback that I can see for now is that the arm clamps don’t allow us to use her suction cup place mat, so she just eats right off of the table!

This is how the clamps work. They’re very sturdy!

We’re pretty in love with it, and at around $50 it’s a justifiable extra piece of gear. I highly recommend it!

Anyone else out there use one?

Oat Cakes with Salmon (Baby-Friendly Finger Food)


I made most of them round, but I made a few of them into little boat shapes to see which was easier for Sugarpie to eat. She preferred the latter.

Just a little somethin’ to read while we’re getting our groove back, here in the Parzen household…

I had been looking for something to use as a neutral base for spreads besides toast. Toast is just fine, but I wanted to mix it up a bit.

Oat cakes** are a Scottish invention, but are widely used all over the U.K. (so I’ve heard). There are very acceptable versions available in some grocery stores, but they’re pretty pricey. I came across a recipe for them on this website. (Have a look, they have tons of great finger food recipes.)

The recipe suggested to pair them with salmon spread, and since salmon is such a good source of protein and Omega 3 fat, I thought it would be a fun way to incorporate it into Sugarpie’s diet.

The oatcakes came out more chewy than crunchy, but I liked them that way. I ground up the rolled oats just to make it easier for baby girl to swallow. They seem dreadfully bland at first, but very soon an irresistible yum factor kicks in.

I used high-quality wild-caught canned salmon (I like this one) and whole milk yogurt for the spread. I omitted the apple juice (didn’t have any), and I added a little chopped tarragon ’cause I had some in the fridge. I can imagine that it is delicious too with dill, or even cream cheese in place of the yogurt. The idea is great, and the variations are endless.

Sugarpie liked the whole ensemble in a I’m-going-to-eat-this-but-I’ve-had-better way, but I will definitely be making this again.

Here’s the link to the recipe. Enjoy!

**Bonus: The oatcakes are also delish topped with salami and paired with a cold glass of white wine…for the grown-ups of course.

Baby Jet Lag is No Joke and Sugarpie’s First Meal in Italy


Mmmmozzarella. She could eat her meager weight in it.

Having had a grand total of 4 hours of sleep (3 1/4 if I’m being honest) in the first 24 hours of our travels, one would think that a little stinker might sleep like a rock the first night in Italy. One would be very mistaken.

The agriturismo provided us with a nice play yard for Sugarpie to sleep in. But since we were in a hotel and share walls with others, we couldn’t quite get her to sleep in it. This would have required about 10 minutes of crying before getting comfy and finding her sleep groove, which I just couldn’t subject our neighbors to!

So at 8 pm, she snuggled in bed with us nursing, and we all fell asleep exhausted after the difficult journey. At 10:30, Sugarpie woke up and was ready for action. After 4 and a half hours of walking her outside, nursing her in bed, walking her outside, nursing her in bed (repeat repeat repeat), she finally gave in. We slept until 9 am. Whew! Hubs and I will likely never forget that night!

I was a little bit of a hostage to her because we had to do everything possible to keep her from crying and babbling loudly. But we survived.

Naps next day were wonky but she went to bed around 9 pm downstairs in the car seat next to us while we had dinner. She woke up for about an hour and slept again until 9 am.

Fast forward to Friday (in Tuscany now), and we have finally reached some semblance of a normal schedule. She slept all night, albeit late to bed, but she slept in the crib that they provided us. I’m so proud!

I read somewhere that babies get their circadian rhythms on track more quickly than adults. That is a lie, at least for Sugarpie. I think we adjusted before she did.

Anyway, that’s the nitty gritty.

Why such a dainty bite?! I had no idea. This is why I don’t like to post pics of myself.

The good news is that her first meal in Italy was mozzarella di bufala. And this is her having her second…

Spinach Ravioli in Sant’Angelo in Colle


Sugarpie has been having so much fun in Italy! I wanted to post chronologically, but that’s not going to happen. I still want to tell you about our campaign against jet lag and her first meal, but that will have to wait.

Now we are in Tuscany where we will stay for two more nights, and Sugarpie had her first dinner in the hills!

We went to our favorite spot for Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak), Trattoria il Pozzo in Sant’Angelo in Colle (Tuscany) and Sugarpie had her first spinach in the form of ravioli.

It seems that ravioli are the perfect spinach delivery system, especially when they’re slathered in butter.

She also enjoyed tiny bits of our massive steak right along with Mommy and Daddy. There was no acceptable high chair, so we just let her eat in our laps. It wasn’t the most relaxing dinner, but you do what you gotta do.

Month 1 Baby Led Weaning Wrap-Up, Travel Eating, and Things to Come


Well, I simply cannot find the photos from the last 3 days of our first month of baby led weaning. This, combined with our two week vacation combined with my procrastination has us a little behind.

Anyway…I think it’s safe to say that the last few days involved leftovers, hummus, and broccoli.

Overall, the first month went smoothly. The second month, with half of it being on vacation, was a little spottier. I relied more on breastmilk as my mother-in-law’s house is not particularly equipped for mealtime flotsam and jetsam.

There were quite a few restaurants, but we always found something Sugarpie could eat. One thing I’ve learned is that high chairs RARELY get wiped down. Ew. I am no germaphobe, but I will make an exception and whip out the antibacterial Wet-Ones for these grungy little things.

We had SO much fun, though. Here are some of the highlights of her California culinary adventures…

Her first sausage! It was yummy chicken and apple. She loved it.

Meatballs and fior di latte at the LA restaurant where Daddy consults

Once we got back home, I made a concerted effort to get her two proper solid meals a day, but always tried for three. She has become quite the confident eater!

Her favorites are…

*scrambled eggs (cannot get enough) in any form. I make them with cheese or sauteed tomatoes and she eats them up then looks for more. I like to make them with coconut oil. She also loves a zucchine frittata and a pasta frittata.

*fresh mozzarella. She will suck the milk out of her slice then munch away at the cheese.

*Broccoli is still a winner and green beans have finally made their way into her heart.

*cherries! I chop them up and let her go at it. It has really helped to develop her pincer grip which comes in handy now that she is crawling and wants to pick every single piece of lint and debris off of the floor.

*her Daddy’s pesto. She really enjoyed fusili dressed in it! She seems to like strong flavors. Hubs also makes eggplant parmesean which she will dig into with gusto. But the tomato sauce gave her a red tushie, so we had to stop.

*broccoli cheese muffins. Recipe coming soon.


What she doesn’t like is a short list…

What a drama queen.

*Avocado…what?! She used to love it. Sugarpie will try it every time, but the wincing is just over-the-top dramatic. I do, however, appreciate the continued effort.

I have a few recipes coming up and some cute pics too, but I think I will try posting such things on Wednesdays, maybe in a Baby Led Weaning Wednesday sort of way.

Hubs and I love food, and so does she. Hopefully we can continue to foster a sense of fun and fellowship, as well as help her to cultivate a spirit of adventure when it comes to food. Maybe she’ll be open-minded, or maybe she will be painfully picky. We shall see.

These first few months of food introduction have been fun beyond my expectations and I cannot wait for to eat her way through Italy on our upcoming trip. You better believe we’ll be blogging about that!

Stay tuned!

Hands off the Hamburger, Lady (Days 24 and 25)


Do NOT touch my food, Mommy.

Heeding the doctor’s advice that I should feed Sugarpie a little meat for iron, I decided to go with something easier for her to break down and gave her ground beef. Instead of a patty, I made her a hamburger “stick.” It was in a form that she could grab and get to her mouth without having to open her fist. Opening her hand to get what’s inside is a skill she is approaching, but she’s not there quite yet.

Wow. Babygirl really does love some meat. I was afraid that she was too ambitious with how much she shoved in her mouth so I tried to take it from her. She yanked her hand back! Then, as she opened her mouth once, a piece almost fell out but she saved it by poking it back in.

I gave her steamed cauliflower with a little curry powder before the meat. She ate it, but it was a tepid response. The most fun came from breaking the pieces apart. But the meat, that was the winner of the night.

Tiny hands!

Day 25

For mid-morning meal, we had yogurt with smushed-up nectarine. She at it all, probably 2 ounces worth.
For dinner we revisited the cauliflower. Again, she ate some, she played with some. I withheld the hummus on toast sticks because I knew that the cauliflower would only wither in the shadow cast by the glorious hummus.

After some ambivalent munching on the veggie, she got the toast. Look out world! Sugarpie gummed the toast and sucked the hummus from the pieces. By the time the toast was good and soggy enough for her to get a piece in her mouth, it was of an ideal texture.

Up next…chicken curry!

NOW We Love Yogurt, Plain Yogurt (Day 23)


I have no words.

After the failed first attempt at yogurt introduction, I decided to try a milder type and dress it up a little. I still bought plain yogurt (Mel Brooks, you listenin’?), but I smushed up some blueberries. Look out world, ’cause that was the ticket. I gave in to a spoon-feeding Sugarpie because this yogurt was kind of runny. I was not in the mood to spend the rest of my life picking blueberry bits out of the window dressings, not today.

Since I barely spoon-feed her, I am assuming that we’re not derailing any progress. I make sure that she wants it, and if there’s a hint of hesitation I let it go.

But believe me, there wasn’t much hesitation.

For dinner, we tried a cucumber spear and some strips of Swiss cheese (remember, this type is far lower in sodium). She was underwhelmed by the cucumber and excited about the cheese. No gagging today!

Baba Ganoush Makes Everything Taste Better (Day 22)


Day 22

First attempt…as soon as that top tooth breaks through, we’re in business.

I bought a beautiful plum today…it practically jumped out of the box. I gave it to Sugarpie whole to see how she would react. She picked it up, gnawed it to no avail, and chunked it. Repeat 3x before Mommy decided to help.

I cut a thick slice and put it on her high chair. She made a sour face, but went back for more. The pulp was separated from the skin with her tiny teeth. We did this with 2 more pieces. She loved it! She didn’t eat all of them but had fun chewing at the bits hanging from the skin. At some point, she should be able to tackle a whole one.

For dinner, I made grilled chicken marinated in garlic chives, lemon juice, and olive oil. Normally I would add salt to the mix, but I made it Sugarpie-friendly. I picked softer bits from the inside and she took it eagerly. She seemed to have a hard time getting it to a point where she could swallow it. (I think poached is better for at this early point of food intro.)

Aawwww yeah!

She started to get fussy, so I gave her a taste of baba ganoush…wow! Loaded with lemon juice and garlic, she smacked her lips and wanted more. I put a teaspoon-size blop on her tray, and suddenly she had Technicolor chicken. She licked bits of the baba¬†ganoush off of her tiny fingertips and dragged the chicken through it as well–the chicken was suddenly much more attractive.

Not wanting to give her too much as eggplant can sometimes be a little bit irritating, I peeled a beautiful Sungold tomato wedge for her and she munched away at half. But she’s not shy in letting us know when she’s had enough, so we shut it down when the fussing started.

There was baba ganoush EVERYWHERE. Her little hands were coated in it and she really wanted to touch Daddy’s head with her baba ganoush-y hands. Ew.

Baba ga-ood!

Daddy whisked her away to the bath.

Can you imagine a 4 year-old tucking into a brown bowl of eggplant spread? I can’t, but I certainly hope that with early exposure, Sugarpie will keep the same eager and open mind that she has now.

**On a safety note, I recommend checking your baby’s mouth before bed time. Sugarpie had a smooth piece of tomato stuck to the roof of her mouth and, for obvious reasons, we did not want to put her to bed that way. A lot of her food seems to end up there, but I imagine that this will get better as she gets better at chewing.