When you’ve had a baby getting out and about is an absolute challenge. From the amount of clutter you need to pack, to making sure you have enough items for every occasion (rain coats, wellies AND sun cream anyone?) and to packing enough food and snacks to get them through a long day.
Getting out and about is a challenge.
When it comes to food, of course taking food from home is IDEAL, but it’s also not always easy to be prepared and have all that you need to safely take foods out of the house, especially in the early days of weaning.
Eating out and about with baby –
I’m certainly not one of those mums who arrives with a lunchbox full of food to events! I try to be, but sometimes I want to eat out for the ease of it – no cleaning up, no cooking, no prepping and no prior shopping needed. Just some food that someone else will make for me and clear away at the end of the meal – heaven!
But when it comes to eating out with babies, it’s a bit of a different ball game. Lots of foods aren’t recommended for babies (e.g. cow’s milk, gluten, wheat, egg, nuts and seeds and fish and shellfish) under 6 months of age and even over 6 months of age we still need to be wary of not giving babies salt, sugar, honey, some soft cheeses, unpasteurised dairy, raw shellfish and certain types of fish.
So when eating out, it’s not simple anymore, whether you have a baby or an older toddler, and that’s without even getting started on the difficulties of eating out with a fussy eater or a little one with allergies!
A few problems you might face to eating out with babies and toddlers…
- Ingredients – these are often variable and you’re not in control of what is going into the food or the amounts either. For example are the meals high in salt, sugar, honey, saturated fat or do they contain high amounts of herbs and spices that your baby just isn’t used to?
- Portion sizes – who knows how much they will eat from meal to meal…and adult portion sizes cost more and are often too large for tiny tummies.
- Kid’s menus – don’t even get me started on these! There are certainly some good ones out there (takes a bit of exploring), but it seems so often restaurants seem to think that children will ONLY eat chicken nuggets and chips…
- Time – keeping them entertained whilst waiting
- Mess – clearing up after yourself or even leaving the restaurant under your coat because there is ketchup smeared up the wall (familiar, anyone?)
This list is obviously not exclusive!!!
Eating out with Raffy –
I’ve always been a big proponent of eating out as it’s something I did a lot before I had a baby, and also because I work from home a lot, and so when I’m not working I don’t want to spend all hours in my house. So from a very young age I used to take food out with me to feed Raffy and so I got used to foods, meals and smaller bits that worked for us.
So, here are some top tips from me for feeding a young baby out and about.
6 months ideas – Top Tips
- If you’re wanting to or planning on eating when you’re out and about a lot then try to take your baby fairly frequently so that they get used to is and it just becomes the norm.
- It’s also a good idea to take baby when they normally eat so that they are hungry and expecting solid foods. Even with lots of distractions around them, this might make them more likely to eat.
- It’s also a great idea to have feeding equipment such as bibs, wipes and cutlery on hand in your nappy bag at all times. However, I was terrible at doing this and found that a standard teaspoon, a napkin and some tissues will always do the trick!
- Stocking up on a variety of freezer pots is handy, that way you can take out baby’s frozen food (or just make mash/purees the night before) pop them in the fridge and carry them with you when you go out and about.
- The amount of food that baby needs will change, so it’s a good idea to have different sizes of these food pots. I loved the small round lock and stock style pots and found these really useful for carrying a variety of Raffy’s foods.
- Some of my favourite food options for out and about included:
– broccoli (and other veggie) fingers
– a slice of bread
– a hard boiled egg
– A small pot of cooked peas
– An Avocado and a fork
– Plain Fusili pasta or one with a little tomato sauce
I also loved taking out a little tub of peanut butter alongside a fork and a banana – I’d mash the banana into the PB at lunchtime so it didn’t spoil and so that Raffy had a fairly balanced meal for the early days. This was such a simple option that he absolutely loved.
- If you’re taking foods that need to stay cool, then opting for little mini gel ice packs were a favourite of mine. You could slide these into a lunchbox with a little pot of baby’s food (this creamy lentil and butternut squash mash would work well for this) and this helped to keep foods cool on a day out.
- I tried not to let Raffy get used to ALWAYS having to have food hot by always offering him a variety of cold, ambient and warm dishes. So that if there was no way of heating some foods out and about, he’d be happy to have it cold. This worked for a bit, but he definitely prefers warm foods now!
- Take a cup with you (most people prefer the closed cups when out and about) but don’t be afraid to offer baby sips from your own glass at the table. From early on I’d fill a standard table glass with a little water and offer Raffy sips from this too. This can help them to really develop the skill of sipping, rather than sucking. It’s also a good idea to offer an open cup or beaker to baby from 6 months of age.
- I’m still get to find the ultimate lunchbox so if any of you have any recommendations, please do send them my way!
These are tips for younger babies, who are less likely to be having foods bought from a restaurant. Of course there are always options to offer baby when eating about if you ask, such as sides of veggies, mashed potato (ask for no salt!) and even little bits of your own meals. Next week I’ll cover eating out with older babies and toddler too.
Please do keep sending in tips and I’ll continue to add to these lists as well!