The importance of BLW when it comes to feeding
When it comes to weaning your little ones and teaching them how to feed themselves, it can be a slow, frustrating process.
There’s the mess of course, the slow development of fine motor skills and the painstaking attempts to deliver nutritious meals creatively into mouths that are sealed closed.
There’s plenty that can be said for the sorts of food you should give your children – from 6 months and beyond. There is great support on weaning from a multitude of very helpful sources. The NHS weaning support in its start4life guide is super useful, but there’s also great eating plans from leading nutritionists. How to wean your baby from Charlotte Stirling-Reed, or Weaning made simple by Annabel Karmel. They’re all big on giving your babies real food, not just mushy goop.
We’re a big fan of that at GRASP. The BLW (or baby-led weaning) approach to getting your little ones on to solid food has been a huge inspiration. Rather than fussing with trying to turn everything into a paste, or trying to create multiple meals to cater to everyones different needs, BLW food takes the hassle out of everything because they very much learn to eat what you do as a family. The added bonus is that It makes you eat more healthily as a family because
More importantly it’s great for developing babies own understanding and consciousness of the food they're eating. Encouraging them to try new things, exploring a wider variety of textures, tastes and sensations.
Conscious eating is healthy eating
Most of us know that eating in front of the TV is bad for our diets. Distracted eating often means eating more, and eating less healthily. Quite simply, if you’re not attuned to what’s going in your body, you’re less worried about whether you’re full or whether you’re putting the right food in your mouth.
That’s why when it comes to babies and kids, deliberately encouraging them to feed themselves, and making it as easy as possible to do so (often by just using their hands) helps kids grow up with a better awareness of when they’re full and what different foods taste like that.
Why use a cup instead of a bottle?
There’s a time when bottles are great for children – the back of the car, a last drink before bed when they’re beyond tired. But on the whole bottles encourage passive skills.
In contrast, cups help develop stronger fine-motor skills, improve hand-eye coordination and encourage concentration. While cups can be a pain (the third one spilled at a meal time can really test your patience as a parent!) they offer similar positive to the BLW approach. They encourage children from a young age to be more mindful of what they’re drinking and crucially, helps them make the transition to a wide range of skills with their hands by developing the movements they need in their bodies.
How do sippy cups help your baby or toddler?
Of course, moving a little baby to a cup immediately isn’t possible. If you don’t want to constantly be giving your baby a cup to drink until they can lift, hold and direct it to their mouth for themselves, then you need something to bridge the transition.
And this is where the world of transition cups and sippy cups can be a real game changer. The right cups can help your little one learn to drink for themselves while making sure you don’t spend every meal time mopping up and changing soaked clothes.
The best sippy cups
So here are our recommendations to help babies and toddlers learn to drink themselves, minus the mess:
Soft spout sippy cups
- This first choice sippy cup from Nuk looks great and is a great starting point for weaning babies
- Why we like it - It’s simple to use and looks good. But we especially like the anti-colic vent. In those first weeks as your baby adjust to drinking themselves they’re likely to take in a lot of air and this is a great way to avoid them building up painful gas
Transition cups and trainer cups
- This transition sippy cup from Tommee Tipee
- Why we like it – This is a very simple, first sips cup. The soft spout makes it familiar for babies transitioning from breast or bottle. Not a bad place to start as your little one first tries water, but we wouldn’t recommend as a long term solution
Spoutless sippy cups
- This ‘miracle cup’ from Munchkin does a great job of removing the spout, but not totally abandoning parents to spilled drinks.
- Why we like it – this unspillable sippy cup imitates a real cup and allows kids to drink from any side while the flow speed is controlled and the cup seals when it's not being drunk from. It’s a great way to get your kids learning key skills. We wish it came in some non-plastic or recycled plastic variants
Open top cups
- This clever design from Doidy helps smooth the transition for children to drinking from a sippy cup to an open top cup
- Why we like it – The angle design helps solve one of the biggest challenges with open top cups – kids being unable to judge the distance between the edge of the bottom of the cup and their mouth. So simple, yet so effective.
- We also like this simple version from Kidly that’s tasteful and embraces the need for kids to learn how to drink from grown up cups
- Why we like it – It’s designed for more competent drinkers. A good, weighted base to stop spills and a great way to move on to complete open cup drinking