Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Baby-proofing and solid foods

So this parenting thing is getting serious, and I need some advice from those who have blazed these trails before us, both recently and maybe not-so-recently.

Alice isn't crawling yet, per se, but she is getting dangerously close. She's pretty much figured out how to pivot around in any direction and move forward in a complicated combination of scrunching, scooting, pulling, and squirming. Once she figures out how to coordinate her knees and elbows, there will be no stopping her. I've resigned myself, crawling is imminent. I'm sure it will happen within the month, but sometimes these things just click without warning. It could be a matter of days...

*Update: In between writing this yesterday and publishing this morning, Alice made significant crawling progress. In fact, Jon reports that Alice maneuvered across the living room yesterday in a fairly coordinated effort of knees and elbows. No straight arms yet, but that's kind of splitting hairs at this point.

The other day, she was scooting around on the floor and extended her tiny hand in her particularly delicate, deliberate, exploratory fashion right toward the electrical outlet. We were watching her closely, of course, and she can't reach it while she's still grounded by her elbows, but still. Baby-proofing is clearly required immediately. 

Also, after her 6-month well-baby appointment in a few weeks, we'll start introducing solid foods. Aside from a few baby food cookbooks and a food mill, we are completely unprepared for this.

I am planning to cook most or all of Alice's food, except probably rice cereal. I know I don't need any fancy paraphernalia to do this, but I bet there are some great things out there that parents would tell me they couldn't get through baby mealtime without. I have my eye on a few things, like this:

Alice also needs a seat at the table. I've been shopping for high chairs since before she was born but keep getting discouraged with the crappy options and give up before I make any progress. I don't know why there aren't more appealing affordable options in the baby gear arena. Yes, there is a ton of awesome, stylish, high-concept/high-design gear, with outrageous price tags to match. I firmly believe that good taste does not have to cost any more than bad taste, but baby product manufacturers clearly do not agree.

We have a small house with little to no storage. If I can't stash this stuff away when we aren't using it, I don't want it to take up any more room than necessary, compete with my decor, or give me a headache to look at or listen to. I don't think that's too much to ask. I don't know who Fisher Price & Graco design for, but I have news for them: BABIES DON'T BUY THEIR OWN STUFF. Parents make the purchases and I bet that, if they had the option, most would choose something timeless, neutral and reusable that compliments their general style. Garish colors and tacky cartoon prints are not "visually stimulating," they are ugly and annoying more often than not. Plus, it's virtually impossible to get everything you might need in styles and designs that even coordinate, let alone match each other.

OK, I'm done ranting, but I would like to find a high chair that is safe, functional, practical, easy to clean and care for, not enormous, and reasonably not-ugly. Based on what I've seen and read so far, two of the current front-runners are:

The Valco Astro (left) folds down flat into the shape of the bottom footprint, only 6.7" high. That would be easy to slide under or next to our coffee console, or somewhere in the laundry room. The Fisher Price Space Saver (right) would not be easy to stash away if our seats are all full of adults, but that doesn't happen very often.

I'm very interested in the new Baby Bjorn high chair, but it is currently only available in Europe. One drawback I can see already is that because it uses the "fold-down table" as the restraint system, the tray can't be removed to transition the chair to the table. That's not a deal breaker for me, I'm not opposed to graduating to a booster seat, but it would be nice to get as many years as possible out of a pricey piece of gear. The molded seat is so appealing to me, I'd seriously consider soliciting a European to export one for me...  

My mom said she loved the seat she used for my brother that attached to the table, but our brand new dining table scratches very easily (which we didn't discover until it was at our house), so I'd rather not destroy it prematurely. It seems like a lot of people just go with the $20 "Antilop" from Ikea because it's good enough and the price is right, but I'd prefer something with a tray, at least until Alice is old enough to use a booster seat not throw her food and utensils everywhere (see delicate table finish, above).

So anyway, for all you parents out there who have already done all the research and trial & error on feeding a human child and protecting them from hidden household dangers, I need your advice. Please answer the following, using complete sentences (don't forget to show your work!):

  1. What high chair do you have? Do you like it? Why or why not?
  2. What spoons/bowls/baby food storage containers do you use/recommend?
  3. If you make your own baby food, do you have any great tips?
Please fill in the blanks:
  1. The feeding/baby-proofing (other) gear I couldn't live without is ___.
  2. The thing I wished I'd known when I was ___ is ____.
  3. If I had to do ___ again, I would make sure to ___.
  4. When you are buying ___, make sure it does/has ___.
  5. When you are ___, make sure to ___.
  6. When you are ___, you will definitely need ___.


  1. What high chair do you have? Do you like it? Why or why not?
    We have the Anka high chair. All wood and very stylish. It folds down pretty well too. So far so good. We went with the dark wood and it matches all our furniture perfectly.

    What spoons/bowls/baby food storage containers do you use/recommend?
    The spoon we love is the green sprouts eco friendly silicone spoon. I recommend the ice cube trays with the lids for freezing. I use some tommy tippee bowls to feed her out of. The less shit I have hanging around the better. I just store her stuff in the fridge in pyrex containers.

    If you make your own baby food, do you have any great tips?
    Keep it simple and use spices. I absolutely refuse to give her anything that tastes bad. I taste test everything we make her. I just use a food processor after steaming the stuff on the stove. It really takes no time at all and is WAY cheaper than store bought. We started with squash and nutmeg, then did oatmeal with cinnamon, next was banana then I added the banana with the cinnamon and oatmeal.Right now she is on green beans and thyme. I use boob milk to thin it all out. We do one new thing every 3 days. Next up is peas and parsley. My dr. said the most important things are organic, local and in season as much as possible.

    I also recommend a good bib with sleeves! It's going to be a messy affair!

  2. One last thing I forgot to add. Lucy's dr. has some great articles about introducing solids and introducing meat. Check them out.


  3. What high chair do you have? Do you like it? Why or why not?
    We use the Fisher Price Space saver and love it! I like that it reclines for feeding Elie (we started rice with both her and Benjamin at 4 months). It was great for Benjamin as a booster seat and I like the tray for it since he was a messy eater. My one complaint with that chair is that the tray is too large for the dishwasher. That definitely wouldn't be a deal breaker for me though. For Benjamin now, (we had to get him his own chair since Elie gets meals now too and the whole taking turns thing in the chair just wasn't working) we are loving the Keekaroo chair. It is very adjustable to grow with Benjamin, positions him at a great height at the table (better than the FP space spaver in booster position did), has buckles to strap his hyperactive body down, and can be adjusted to fit an adult (up to 150 pounds)
    What spoons/bowls/baby food storage containers do you use/recommend?
    We use the gerber baby spoons that have a kind of rubberized spoon-bowl. For bowls we just use our small ceramic baking ramekins or use the small ziploc/gladware storage containers for meals on the go.
    If you make your own baby food, do you have any great tips?
    We did alot of homemade foods for the first few months of solids, but once she was eating more variety and doing food combinations it was easier to just buy the jars. I can't remember where I read it, but there are some veggies you should not prepare yourself due to nitrate levels...I think spinach was one of them. We would either bake (squashes) or steam (peas, broccoli, carrots) our food. We have a steaming dish that can with the microwave that works great. Once food was soft, we would puree in the food processor using some of the steaming liquids. We would freeze in ice cube trays, and then thaw individual cubes as needed. I would mix with breast milk and what ever the cereal du jour was.
    Please fill in the blanks:
    The feeding/baby-proofing (other) gear I couldn't live without is FP Space saver chair, stair gate, outlet covers. No need for a toilet lock...it's called a door.
    The thing I wished I'd known when I was pregnant is how tired I would be.
    If I had to do our San Fran thanksgiving trip again, I would make sure to take more pictures!
    When you are buying toys that make noise, make sure it does/has an off-switch and a volume button.
    When you are giving a large gift to a toddler, make sure to assemble it first...they don't have the patience to watch you fumble with foreign instructions.
    When you are the parent of 2, you will definitely need a baby carrier (bjorn or moby) and double stroller.

    Hope that helps!

  4. Here's my two cents ...
    1. For the rest of your life (trust me on this) you will have kid crap all over your house. Get used to it.
    2. Distress the table and clip a seat on to it. We loved our little clip-on chair. All 3 kids used it. Metal frame, fabric seat, easy, small.
    3. Don't get all spendy with your baby crap. Unless you're planning on having many more, you won't get your money out of it. Hit the garage sales and buy whatever is clean.
    4. Quit wasting time worrying about doing motherhood "right." Your adorable baby will be just fine if you smoosh up whatever you're making for dinner and give it to her. And if your table gets scratched? big whoop. You can blame her for it for-freakin-ever! (Trust me on this too.)


  5. Thanks for all this input, guys!

    Ashleigh, that is super helpful info from your doctor. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. I know this is late, but I work at a baby boutique and the only high chair we sell (and the one I own) is the keekaroo. It's $150 (more if you decide on any inserts, or comfort cushions), but it is amazing! It can last you forever, if you so choose. For the price I think it's pretty awesome. We use ours as a regular chair for ourselves or guests when we have people over. You can't do that with many high chairs! What did you end up going with?

  7. Lacey, thanks for the input! We definitely considered the Keekaroo and the Stokke, but decided our house is really too small to fit another chair - especially since we'd just got a dining set with a bench and 4 chairs. We literally did not have room for a high chair, or to move a chair for one! We decided on the Fisher Price Healthy Care Deluxe and could not be happier!

    It's a great value ($30!), uses a regular chair, pulls up to the table, grows with your kid, is portable (for restaurants/travel, etc), trays can be put in the dishwasher, and the whole thing is easy to wipe down - including the safety belt! I'm planning a follow up post soon, but we have not regretted our choice at all!



I love to hear from you! Kind words only, please...