Baby Led Weaning

Growing healthy babies with healthy appetites

Baby-led Weaning Diary – In which Siobhan ventures outside…

Is eating out with a BLW baby biting off more than they can chew?

Now, there’s NOTHING I love more than relaxing at home. It fills me with glee when we don’t have to venture out in the cold to a group/appointment/the shops allowing Alban and I to potter at home all day, doing nothing but sticking Franny’s Fab and Healthy Banana Cake in the oven. Just in case anyone reads this and starts to feel very nervous I should point out I always put it in the oven, not Alban! Staying on the subject of Franny’s Fab and Healthy Banana Cake – oh, how I’ve fallen in love with this simple but stunning creation. My little man adores devouring a slice of this warm, gooey delightfulness and I’m not even going to admit how many slices Mummy scoffs.

Anyway, despite my love for the indoors I was in dire need of fresh air and natural light after Alban’s week of upset so decided to experiment how BLW works outside the ‘safety and security’ of the home. This is all in the name of research for of course and absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Mummy was craving a decent coffee and toasted mozzarella, tomato and basil panini…

As I walked into town I contemplated the most appropriate place for us to go to. This, as I’m sure you all know translates to which place will be the most forgiving with all the food that’s going to be hitting the floor.
I decided on my venue – the most child-friendly café with staff that smiles patiently at you when your baby decides to scream very loudly. And yes, that does happen – often. I really hoped though that I wouldn’t be lumbered with the crappy broken highchair that every other mother avoids. And there it was waiting for us; that crappy broken highchair every other mother avoids – a great start.

I knew what I was having but as I scoured the menu looking for fresh, healthy food with hardly any salt, it dawned on me I should have packed Alban a lunchbox. I wasn’t keen on him having white bread, cake, or any of the rich, calorific sandwich fillings – I don’t remember coronation chicken or tuna mayonnaise getting the thumbs up in the BLW cook book. Incidentally, my copy of the BLW cook book is now so worn and stained you’d think I’d had it for years, not a month.

Eventually, I decided to order Alban what I was having – the mozzarella, tomato and basil panini. I had to panic order the ravenous little thing a banana and start him on that first because the panini was SO HOT – (mozzarella doesn’t half bubble up to catastrophic temperatures doesn’t it?)

Pushing food aside for a moment (excuse the pun) I’d love to know what everyone else’s dining out etiquette is and what your experiences are of eating out with your LO’s. Can you really relax and enjoy your own meal or is choking and mess at the back of your minds? Do you cringe as yet another lapful of food hits the floor and profusely apologise or are you not bothered in the slightest?

After the panini had cooled down to a safe edible level I cut it into fingers and offered it to Alban. I did have a quick Monica Geller moment and wondered whether I should have brought out a plastic mat to put on the table, but it looked clean enough and I’m sure he’ll be exposed to an awful lot worse.

As Alban scooped the panini off the table and stuffed it into his mouth I urged him to slow down . What a clever move that was – giving instructions to a 6 month old who a) can’t understand you and b) is only concerned with getting as much food as possible into his mouth. And then he started to gag. I felt a slight wave of panic wash over me and completely ignored the rule of ‘sitting on your hands for 10 seconds and doing nothing.’ I lunged forward, thumped him on his back and breathed a sigh of relief as his eyes stopped watering and the panini fell straight out of his mouth onto the table.

It was then that I noticed I was being watched. An immaculate mother, with polished nails was spoon feeding her beautifully behaved child a pureed lunch from colour co-ordinated Tupperware pots. She stared at me in total and utter disdain.

I sat back, took a deep breath and smiled proudly as Alban grabbed another handful of food knocking the majority of it all over the floor.

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16 Responses to “Baby-led Weaning Diary – In which Siobhan ventures outside…”

  1. Aitch says:

    I don’t cringe easily, I must say, so I never felt anything but delighted to be out and about and enjoying food with the children.

    I’m wondering, Siobhan, how much time you have spent with kids before having Alban… see the thing is that things get messy, full stop. They all have to learn to feed themselves sometimes, regardless of how they are weaned, but I always felt that at least if they were learning young they a. looked super-cute and b. hadn’t yet developed the muscles in their throwing arm. ;-D

    When it came to tidying up, I always made an effort to grab a napkin and pick up the big bits and left a decent tip.

  2. Aitch says:

    oh and I have illustrated the piece with a Big Pink Fake Cake on purpose… ;-D

  3. Siobhan says:

    Ha ha. Well, I hadn’t held a baby for years until I cherished my own…
    I just find that people stare SO much when we eat out. I don’t know if it’s because they are maybe not used to seeing someone so small not being spoon fed and can’t stop looking at an adorable child with pieces of pitta bread hanging out of his mouth! Also, I’ve noticed they look at all the food on the floor and then stare at me. I have to say though I tend to just sit there and don’t pick up every single bit until the end when of course I clean it up with one big swoosh. In fact, I’ve started asking for a broom now!

  4. Aitch says:

    They are staring because your son is so adorable and they are astonished that he is so clever as well as being the handsomest infant they have ever seen. How could one human being be so gifted, they are asking themselves, while admiring the modern art tableau vivant that he makes at his feet even as he eats his lunch.

    This is what I always assumed, anyway.

    • BigFlower says:

      I agree with Aitch. Let them stare – they are staring in awe at your baby’s brilliant skill in feeding himself. Have you had any positive comments at all yet? I once had a group of four old dears come up to me and say how marvellous they thought it all was and how much better it was than purees and how relaxed I looked etc etc. It was cool. So just bear in mind that many people may be thinking “wow how wonderful” rather than “jeez the mess”. And as for the mess so what, you pick it up after so no biggy.

      I love eating out when BLW – so much easier than trying to spoonfeed. When I eat out with my spoonfeeding friend I am always the more chilled one, enjoying the social time with DD and the others there whereas she is faffing around with pots of hot water to warm up purees, stressing about how much or how little her LO has eaten, struggling to eat her own lunch etc.

      And the more you do it the more immune you become to any looks anyway!

  5. Claire says:

    Rice crackers are your friend. Or even a banana. Very handy to have a packet in the nappy bag. That way, while you’re waiting for the sandwich/or whatever to cool down, your LO is distracted by the cracker. Then just share a bit of yours.

    Oh, and I agree with Aitch, they aren’t staring at you at all. This is all going to seem like a distant memory very soon. It does for me.

  6. Christina says:

    We always ended up nursing while waiting for food to arrive. LO knows restaurants are for eating and gets impatient! We order her tomato slices often if the rest of the food is hot or salty.

    Outdoor dining is great because the pigeons take away the mess. Usually I just didn’t give her too much at a time so there was nothing to knock off. Rice is another matter, but we stick mostly to smaller restaurants and the staff/owners love to see babies enjoying their food and often come over and chat with us. We dine out earlier than normal so they’re not busy and we leave a nice tip.

  7. Hannah says:

    To combat the highchair anxiety, have you seen Phil and Ted’s ‘lobster’ seat or the ‘Me Too’? They’re portable highchairs that clamp to the table. I carry mine all the time as handy at friend’s houses if their highchair is in use (or they don’t have children!), or in cafes/restaurants as then they have the table to use as a tray. The lobster comes with its on little plastic tray, the ‘me too’ doesn’t have one but I just have a roll up dinner mat that I clamp to table with the chair.
    With regards to food, I always take a lunchbox and then you can get then started while you wait for your food. Avocado or houmous sandwich fingers are easy to devour and not too messy. Breadsticks, pizza toast, cucumber fingers, cherry toms, sticks of cheeses, fruit etc all fairly easy to swipe away with the wipes!! I roll up my rubber pelican bib, to catch all bits that don’t make the mouth, and stuff it in her lunchbox too.

    I love eating out with DD and her baby friends as it means I don’t have to do a clean up job as epic as the one at home would be, and they do always attract admiring glances from older folk as they’re so proficient at eating!! :-)

  8. Siobhan says:

    Lovely tips girls. I will be compiling a ‘BLW bag’ that will fit inside the nappy bag with the rice cakes, breadsticks, banana etc so we will never be caught out again!
    We’ve had some lovely lunches out this week and our dining companions can hardly believe that Alban isn’t getting spoon fed mush from a tupperware pot. Onwards and upwards…..
    Hannah – no I haven’t heard of the lobster seat but have just googled it and am suitably impressed. It’s gone straight onto his Xmas list….thanks so much for the tip.

  9. Maz says:

    Sounds like you and Alban are enjoying lovely lunches/snacks out together Siobhan – keep going at it – after all he’s just as entitled to enjoy the delights of cafe experience – food/spills/smells/noise – the same as everyone else does – happy munching!!

  10. Juliette says:

    The rule is that if restaurants provide high chairs then they can cope with a bit of mess on the floor (although I do always clear up any easy to clear up mess).

    I always take a lunchbox and supplement it with some of my food – saves worrying about the wait, whether there is going to be anything suitable on the menu etc. It’s also annoying to see comparatively expensive restaurant food go on a floor when you don’t have a clean mat underneath. I also stick to stuff that is fairly solid when out – wouldn’t try anything like spaghetti bolognese.

  11. Ceri says:

    Wow, I’ve got all this to come and can’t wait. BLW sounds like the way to go and far less hassle than permanently puree’ing everything. People have their own (very strong) opinions on how you should bring up your child and they’re all conflicting so don’t worry about other people staring. I do feel sometimes that parts of this country isn’t very child friendly and it’s up to our generation to fix that. Bring on the mess I say and well done everyone who tries this forward thinking method!

  12. Kirsty says:

    Another good idea is Antibacterial surface wipes. You can get 2 packs for £1.20 in some supermarkets just now. We also have a plate with a sucker which I sometimes take with us in an attempt to minimise mess :)

  13. Cherie says:

    I can’t imagine taking her anywhere until the gagging thing decreases. People looking at her would be bad enough but they would stare in horror at my inappropriate behavior in response to the gagging thing (although I am working on it!). It is nice to know that someday I will be able to though.

  14. Psychomummy says:

    Coming to this a bit late, but I am with the rest, no qualms about taking the wee girl out cos she is so goddamn adorable and friendly, no-one really minds about the mess. I am lucky enough to have a mummy pal who is a BLWer too so we often invade dining establishments with cover-all bibs and back-up banana & breadsticks. As for the “modern art tableau” (Love it, Aitch!) I just scoop up all the gunk when we’re finished then thank/apologise to the staff – have to say I haven’t noticed people staring much but when I do, I presume it’s because my tiny daughter is such a voracious eater and so very, very smiley….

  15. sweetcheeks says:

    A bit late with the comments but I have a spare changing mat (the foldable kind that comes with the changing bags) that I put under Roo’s high chair when we eat out. The staff seem to appreciate the gesture. Same with the antibacterial wipes. Now we are using plates I tend to take along the rubber mat thing with the sucker on along with one of Roo’s plates. I also take a few snacky type foods to occupy while his food is cooking. I have to say though that people have been very positive and most couldn’t beleive it to see him munching on steak, chicken, pork and the occasional corn on the cob at 7 months. My biggest challenge has been to stop him shaking his sippy cup over his head and showering the people around him. On the whole though I’ve been able to take Roo anywhere and he’s always behaved impeccably and ate like a champ! So much easier than pots and purees!

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