Once my boys reached six months of age, I couldn't wait to begin introducing baby foods into their diets — along with all the gadgets that make feeding so much easier. They seemed to enjoy their diet of mostly breast milk, but as a self-proclaimed foodie who likes pretty much everything (except bananas, for the love of everything holy, keep those things away from me), I was excited to teach their little tastebuds about all the delicious and healthy baby foods they could eat.
After the first messy encounter with solids (we went with mashed-up avocado, because if these kids don't like that delectable green lusciousness, then I can't be sure they're mine), I knew there had to be some high-tech or ingenious gadgets to make feeding a baby easier.
As technology changes, so do the ways parents can feed their babies. Making homemade baby food has never been easier, and even on-the-go meals for babies have become less stressful, thanks to new inventions. Whether you fill your bottles with formula or breast milk, the daily chore of preparing, heating, and cleaning them no longer has to occupy 67 percent (or so) of your waking hours.
Yes, these are gadgets that make your life easier, but the best side effect is all that extra time you'll have to spend with your sweet babies. (Or nap. Whichever works.)
Author's note: I looked and I looked, but there's still no product out there to clean mushy, caked-on and ground-in baby food off your floors, much to the chagrin of moms (and their poor knees) everywhere.
1A High Chair With A Magnetic Tray For Plates That Stay Put
Most high chairs stick to pretty much the same concept – seat, tray, straps – but leave it to 4moms (the folks behind the wildly popular mamaRoo) to kick things up a level. Their new, revolutionary high chair features a magnetic tray that, when used with the 4moms magnetic dishes, actually keeps plates of food from being flung around your kitchen. This is a very, very good thing (trust me; we're still recovering from the Great Spaghetti Disaster of 2015 over at my house).
2Formula At The Press Of A Button
Occasionally, a mom is able to prepare a bottle of formula with two hands while her darling baby patiently waits nearby. More often, that same mom is frantically trying with one hand to unscrew bottles, scoop out formula, and shake it all together without spraying warm, sticky liquid all over her kitchen with one hand, all while holding a crying infant in her arms. This mom needs the Baby Brezza Formula Pro, which mixes powdered formula (no pods!) and water for the perfect bottle of warmed formula at the press of a button.
3High-Tech Homemade Baby Food
Lots of moms envision themselves making baby food only to find the reality (So. Many. Dishes!) doesn't quite match the expectation. There's a solution in the Béaba, an all-in-one steamer, blender, reheater and defroster that's been a perennial registry favorite of moms since it launched. It takes healthy, fresh foods from raw to high-chair ready in just 15 minutes, and it's easy to clean, to boot, because the last thing any mom wants is more clean-up. Don't forget Béaba's awesome, teething-friendly spoons to go with it!
4A Multipurpose Bottle Warmer
There are many bottle warmers on the market, and most of them take the highly scientific approach of just blasting the thing with heat until done. This isn't terrible if your baby is strictly formula-fed, but that sort of unrestrained heat can damage the precious nutrients and antibodies in breast milk. Protect your liquid gold with the Kiinde Kozii, which safely thaws and/or warms any bottle (and baby food pouches or jars) using a constant stream of flowing water.
5Homemade Baby Food In No Time
Some people relish making their own baby food; others (cough, yours truly, cough) just relish the idea of making their own baby food. I found a happy medium with an electric hand blender, which I could use to quickly blend soft foods (like fruits, avocados and Greek yogurt) for a meal in a pinch. Once my babies were eating more foods, I'd simply blend a bit of whatever I made for dinner (tempering it with something liquid-y like applesauce if need be), and voilà: Dinner is served.
6A Warm Bottle Anywhere
We just weaned our youngest son off bottles, but this is the sort of product that might make me (a baby-gear junkie ) consider having another child just because it's that awesome. The iiamo Go is a — are you ready for this? — a self-heating bottle. Warm bottles on walks. Warm bottles at restaurants. Warm bottles on planes. Warm bottles everywhere! Make sure to buy the accompanying heating cartridges ($11), and you'll be ready to get going.
7A Bottle Sterilizer and Dryer In One
I'm a sucker for an all-in-one product. There are lots of sterilizers on the market (many of them bottle-brand specific) but the Wabi — a gadget that steams, sterilizes, and dries bottles, binkies, pumping parts, dinnerware and more — one-ups them by getting the job(s) done all in the same place. The real question is, once you've said goodbye to the bottles balanced precariously all over your kitchen, what are you going to do with all that extra counter space?!
8An Adjustable Bouncy Seat
There's not much better than snuggle times with a sweet baby, but sometimes, Mom's gotta eat. Or work. Or pay bills. Or, you know, anything that requires the use of a least one of her hands. Unfortunately, that often coincides with when your baby needs to eat. To make things easier, I would have given anything for the adjustable-height bouncer from Skip Hop. Simply raise your baby up when it's time to bottle-feed, and lower them back down (or not) when it's time to play.
9Real Food Made Safe
It's important to introduce babies to as many flavors as possible, which may be because that's when their tastebuds are most receptive, or — as I choose to believe — because they're simply too little to protest. (Try giving Brussels sprouts for the first time to the average 3-year-old and lemme know how that goes.) This handy mesh feeder lets parents give "real" food to their babies without putting them at risk for choking.
10Less Mess At Mealtime
Feeding a baby shouldn't be that difficult in theory, but in practice, sometimes Mom is the one who needs the bib more than the baby does. This silicone squeeze-y spoon removes messy containers from the equation: Simply pour pureed food into the bulb, screw on the spoon, and squeeze to dispense perfectly portioned bites with one hand. This works great at home, but it's especially nice for on-the-go, too.
11A Container To Keep Snacks Contained
One day, you realize it: Your sweet baby is growing up. The pitter-patter of little feet echo throughout your home. Your ears delight at the sounds of your child's first "Mama!" And of course, your entire house is overrun with tiny, bite-size snacks. Literally, they will be everywhere. Accept it, or check out these lidded snack catchers, which keep food trapped in until it's ready to be eaten.
12Smash-And-Go Baby Food
When I was pregnant with my first, I thought I'd make all my own baby food, but it turns out I'm not really the making-baby-food type — I'm more of the thank-heavens-for-awesome-superfood-pouches type. I did, however, love whipping up easy concoctions in this NUK Mash and Serve bowl. It's great for mushing up soft-ish foods (think bananas, avocado, or sweet potatoes) in a plethora of combinations for instant homemade purees.
13Baby's First Spoons
When you give a baby a spoon to practice self-feeding, it's going to be a messy endeavor (literally and figuratively), but the innovative GOOtensil helps make the transition easier. It doesn't need to be scooped to pick up food, so little fingers can grasp the utensil in virtually any position, plus the indentations on the head grab just enough food for a baby to manage — ensuring more goes in the mouth and less goes on your floor.
14A Bottle Anywhere
I'm what you'd call a minimalist when it comes to diaper bags. I try to pack what I think we'll need for each outing, but with two kids under four, I can't also take on the role of Sherpa every time we leave the house. Still, I know enough to know that a hungry baby is nothing to mess around with, so I always keep these water bottle adapters and a container of formula in my bag, just in case. (Note: They also work well for thirsty 3-year-olds who haven't quite mastered drinking from an open container yet.)
15Minimal Mess On-The-Go
When your baby graduates to finger foods, dining out gets easier, but it also gets significantly less...hygienic. Both my children seem to think gnawing on the table is a delicious prelude to the main course, and they think nothing of eating right off the tabletop. Since I have less faith in the cleanliness of said table than my kids do, I bust out these disposable stick-on placemats to keep things (relatively) neat and sanitary while we're on-the-go.
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