Having the basic baby feeding supplies doesn’t have to be hard! Even though there are so many baby feeding accessories out there, that doesn’t mean that you need them all. Make the best choices for you and your baby and go from there! Why add the additional cost of buying all these things that you really don’t even need?
As a new mom, there were few things I stressed over more than feeding my babies. I read up on when to introduce solids to a baby (which varied based on the source), how to breastfeed a newborn, how often to nurse said baby, how often to feed them, when to stop feeding for the night, when to introduce finger foods, and how to introduce them.
However, we were poor and had twin babies to feed. And other than bottles and bibs, no one had gifted us baby feeding supplies at our various baby showers. We didn’t even have baby spoons, baby bowls, baby plates and bowls, baby silverware. We didn’t even have a high chair!
We were completely unprepared for when they turned 6-months-old and began eating baby food purees and baby cereals, provided to us from WIC.
We didn’t have a blender to puree homemade baby food, nor did I want to due in large part because we didn’t have a dishwasher, and the amount of baby bottles with rotting formula or breastmilk in them sitting on the counter was already overwhelming me.
So, like you do when you’re faced with less than ideal situations, we made it work.
When we first introduced infant baby cereal to our twins, we strapped them into their baby swings. The covers on their swings quickly became coated with a colorful variety of pureed foods as they dribbled food down their chins and onto their bibs, bellies, legs, and smeared it everywhere with their hands.
Thankfully, the covers washed up perfectly in the washing machine.
For Christmas (when our twins were 8-months-old), my in-laws gave us these two little booster seats and they finally had a real place to sit and eat at the table.
It’s been almost seven years now since our twins were born and we’ve added two more babies to our family. Every time we have a baby, I realize more and more that you really don’t need a lot of baby feeding supplies in order to feed your baby. In fact, you can manage with even less than we did with our twins if needed.
So, here is what are a thrifty, simple mom recommends as the essential baby feeding supplies:
Essential Baby Feeding Supplies
I have never once made my own pureed baby food, in large part because we’ve qualified for Women Infants and Children (WIC) with all our children and they provide you with so. much. baby. food! Because WIC covers the cost of jarred baby foods, making my own food didn’t make sense. (P.S. The income limit to receive assistance from WIC is often quite high, so it may be worth looking into if you so desire.)
I have no problems with jarred baby foods. Some prefer to make their own. I have no problems with that either. It’s usually much cheaper per ounce than buying the individual 4oz jars. Do what you’d like.But, here’s my realization, especially with my fourth baby: pureed baby foods are really only needed for about 2-3 months (assuming you introduce solids at 6 months). After that time babies want REAL food and have developed many of the skills required to eat food that hasn’t been mushed and mashed first.
That’s when it’s important to introduce finger foods, which often look a lot like the food you eat, just cut or torn into small pieces for them.
When it comes to “toddler foods” you should not feel pressured to buy the items marked as such. A large box of Cheerios is like $3 and will last you far longer than that $3 container of toddler puffs. Also, to save money on those popular pouched purees, look into buying reusable food pouches and just buying a large jar of applesauce, yogurt, or other soft food (perhaps a fruit and veggie concoction you make yourself). Again, this will say you a bundle and produce far less waste. Win-Win!
Also, skip the go-gurt tubes. I find that they just end up all over my child and are anything but mess-free. They are SO floppy! Maybe if your kid is 6 they could eat from one without getting it all over themselves (still not even guaranteed then!), but to me, totally not worth it. Also, greek yogurt is way better for your kids.
Give them their own bowls, spoons, and plates, and you’ll find baby food thrown all around the room (unless you purchase one of these Happy Mats). Plus, every kid goes through the fun phase of testing if gravity still works, again and again, so everything ends up on the floor.
To keep things simple and easier to clean up, you can strip your child down before a meal, limit the ultra messy foods, or feed those to him yourself, and make him wear a bib at every feeding.
Bibs are often super cute but I’ve found some bibs are practically useless. They are way too itty-bitty and more like a drool catcher (which is fine for actual drool catching), but, if you want a bib that is going to protect your child’s clothes, high chair, and skin, a large bib is needed.
Also, a bib needs to attach via snaps or buttons, because Velcro attachments are a big old joke and your kid will rip them off in a nano-second. Skip the Velcro bibs!
I recently received these adorable KUDL bibs that have not one, not two, but three nickel-free metal snaps! You can adjust them as your child grows and snap all three down for a more secure fit, discouraging your little one from removing it from around their neck two minutes (or less) into a meal. Plus, they are extra large at 8.5″ x 14″!
The bibs are also super soft absorbent cotton on the top and a fleece on the baby that will keep your baby dry. The fleece is way better than the plastic waterproof backs of some bibs which often wear down and peel apart over time with multiple washings. And these Kudl bibs stay fresh looking even after being laundered.
Also, if you plan on having multiple children, bibs that are unisex patterns and colors are just smart because I assure you I put my twin daughters’ bibs on my son, and my son’s boy bibs on my current girl toddler. It just happens. If they are unisex like these KUDL bibs, you never have to worry about your son or daughter sporting “the wrong color” or design.
Also, bonus for these KUDL bibs, which were designed by a mom of five and tested on her set of toddler twins, is that they offer a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee. I really wish some of the bibs I’ve had through the years offered that, because I would have sent them back!
So, be sure to pick up a 4-pack of Kudl bibs as part of your baby feeding essentials.
Honestly, you don’t need to buy them. You can use your regular eating utensils. And your baby will likely want to steal your utensils before too long. But, you can buy some softer infant baby spoons and baby forks. I have yet to ever buy a baby plate. We have these basic Munchkin bowls that have served us well for years.
I admit to hating sippy cups, but toddlers are notorious for dumping entire cups all over themselves, chucking cups across the room, dropping them onto the floor, and sticking their hand or other objects into a regular cup. Thus, sippy cups are a lifesaver.
But, I have yet to find a sippy cup that is indeed 100% spill and leak proof (note those are different). My recommendation is to skip any soft top sippy cups. Why? Because, kids chew them to bits, stick pencils or other things into the soft top holes, and they leak.
And this applies even to these cute sippy cup lids that turn any cup into a sippy cup – we have them, and they leak. Also, I discovered that regular plastic cups are not as durable as sippy cups are against babies through them onto the floor….
Oh, and I’m not a fan of the ones with the bendy straw tops that flip down into the lid (like this) – reason being? When you wash them it’s almost impossible to rethread the top part of the straw through the lid, rendering them useless!
Oh, and I’ve been known to misplace (lose) the plastic straw part, also rendering them unuseable.
I highly suggest going for the hard sippy cups and ones that come with a valve (something like this). I am still experimenting to find the best sippy cups, so feel free to experiment yourself. If you get a sippy cup with a valve, you will likely want/need sippy cup and straw cleaning brushes as well to really get in and clean them, because the dishwasher doesn’t always get them clean.
A Place to Sit
A toddler needs a place to sit while eating, for safety reasons (if you run around and trip you have a higher chance of choking on food in your mouth), and for sanity reasons, as it’s hard to feed a mobile toddler. A seat that lets you strap them down is even better. If you must, use what you have, like we made do with infant swings for their feeding chairs. Not ideal, but it worked.
Full high chairs take up more space in your home and are more expensive. However, they don’t stake claim to a dining chair like a booster seat does, which if you need it for guests, will need a very thorough scrub down to make it sit-able due to all the stuck on food particles. You could opt for a 3-in-1 high chair or a 4-in-1 high chair that serve as both a traditional high chair and a booster seat, thus growing with your child, which is pretty cool!
I used a Bumbo for the first time with my fourth baby and loved having it when we visited friends and needed a safe spot for her to sit. They won’t last your child as long as they are designed more for babies than toddlers. But they aren’t very expensive and are highly portable and can be used on tables and other flat surfaces (with strict supervision of course).
You can also have them sit on your lap while eating, but you’ll likely get very messy too. If you plan to transition them to a regular chair at a younger age (we did with our son) then it’s not as necessary to invest in a full-on high chair.
When it comes to high chairs, I am in love with our wooden one we currently have as it doesn’t take up as much floor space and looks way nicer aesthetically than the large metal and plastic ones. It’s also easy to clean. (I picked ours up from Craiglist for like $30 or $40 – total score!)
Containers for Food on the Go
When it comes to feeding essentials for babies and toddlers, you need something or some way to keep food on your when you go out. Because babies don’t keep. Having a snack helps tide them over when you’re in the checkout line, stuck in traffic, or waiting at the doctor’s office.
Most common now I just grab a simple snack or sandwich sized Ziploc bag and fill it with something dry like cereal or graham cracker. Sometimes I throw a whole sleeve of crackers into my bag. Other times I may grab an applesauce pouch (get a reusable one to save money) or even a banana.
But, other times we’ve used things like a small Tupperware container or even things with flip tops. I have never been crazy about these containers with zigzag cut tops. My problem with any container is that there is a high chance it will be flipped over, the lid will be removed, and stuff will be dumped out. A bag isn’t usually as messy, and are cheap and accessible.
When your baby is done eating, you will need a way to clean them up. A simple sponge bath by the kitchen sink or bathroom sink works well. I prefer using a soft paper towel. But, I do love the more thorough clean (and smell) you get using Johnson’s Head-to-Toe Baby Cleansing Cloths. They smell amazing and don’t need to be rinsed off. Baby wipes sometimes broke my kids faces out (even though we use sensitive wipes) so I don’t use those.If you have carpet under your dining table, we once bought cheap $1 tablecloths from the Dollar store (you can pick up some from Amazon too, but they’re not as cheap) and put them under our twins’ high chairs to protect our carpet from stains and spills, which can’t exactly be swept or vacuumed up easily.
I even would wipe them down and reuse them, having one table cloth last 4-7 days. Not super economical, but I didn’t have to spend time (or money) removing stains from carpets either.
Top Tips for Baby Feeding Products
If you can find bowls or plates with a suction base, these are great for holding down your own baby food so that they can’t throw it off the high chair. (and yes, this happens during the first years!)
Good spoons are really important for a small hand to be able to grab and hold. Try to find silverware with non-slip handles for your little eater.
Don’t get caught up in buying products with cute designs. Get items that their little hands will be able to hold and use!
You’re going to want to get the best snack containers, too so that they will keep as much food off themselves in the process. Good containers hold in the food meaning you’ll be using fewer paper towels for cleaning up.
Even if you have picky eaters, be patient with them! This is an exciting time that they’ll be exploring and trying new foods and products and a little bit of patience goes a long way.
No matter how you feed your baby, enjoy the time you have with them. Be patient with their messes. Take pictures and videos of them trying new foods, making their faces red with pasta sauce, or trying to use a fork or spoon for the first time.
They won’t be messy high chair contained babies forever and before you know it, he or she won’t even need a bib, and will sit in a regular chair, and the messes will stop being as cute then.
So, enjoy them messy babies. Laugh along with them. Smile. And keep it simple (and frugal).