I didn’t know about mesh feeders when BigBrother was starting solids. I don’t know why I didn’t know about them considering that they existed. You know, other than the fact that I live in a very un-progressive area when it comes to parenting and was considered a freak for waiting until he showed all the signs of readiness before introducing solids. Including, you know, sitting up unassisted. Once I learned about mesh feeders, BigBrother was already past that stage. And so, before LittleBrother was introduced to solids, I bought one.
And then I tried to figure out what to do with it. Turns out, lots of things are great in a mesh feeder.
- Bananas. (LittleBrother’s favorite.)
- Peaches. (LittleBrother’s second favorite.)
- Steamed carrots (cooled down).
- A breastmilk-cicle.
- Melon(s) of any variety.
- The list goes on! Get creative.
A great idea is to freeze some of these fruits (melon and grapes, for example, or buy frozen blueberries) and give them to your little eater when teething. Not only will it make his gums feel better in a natural way but he’ll get some yum factor, be exposed to new textures and tastes and get some food in him at the same time. (If your teethers are like mine, food isn’t a priority during bouts of teething.)
It should be noted that the mesh feeder follows the same rules of introducing new foods. Wait approximately a week in between each food to rule out any possible reactions which include anything from vomiting to a rash to a more serious reaction. Avoid known allergens like strawberries, citrus, corn or anything with peanuts. (Here’s a great list which includes, tada!, cinnamon.)
Whatever you put in your child’s mesh feeder, make sure it’s full! The first time I gave LittleBrother some banana in a mesh feeder, I didn’t fill it quite full enough and he was having trouble getting anything to come out. If you fill the mesh bag full enough, your child should have no problem getting stuff out!
Biggest and best tip: Clean your feeder immediately. By immediately I do mean as soon as they finish gnawing on whatever they’re gnawing on. The biggest complaint with mesh feeders is that they’re “difficult to clean.” Well, sure, they are… if you let them sit overnight with the half-dissolved food getting stuck in creases and crevices. As soon as your child tosses it over the side of his high chair (which can be avoided by using a pacifier clip to attach it to a bib or the chair’s cover), take it to the garbage can or disposal and empty the contents. Turn the water on hot and get all of the food out. Now. Not later. Now. Use your fingernails or a small toothbrush designated for this purpose only to get in the small crevices. If you forget (or your spouse or a caregiver), fill a bowl with hot (HOT!) water and let it soak for an hour or two and then get down to business with the toothbrush. You can toss these in your dishwasher on the top rack but dishwashers aren’t going to get old, crusty banana-goo out of those creases. Taking care of the mess immediately is the absolute easiest way to keep it clean.
Also of note: mesh feeders are messy in general as the juice and bits of the food seep out of the mesh. You know, that’s the point. Don’t wait to clean the high chair tray until later. I swear. Banana goo is like rubber cement. If you clean it now (right now!), you won’t have to use as much elbow grease later. Trust me. I know this one for a fact.
While the mesh feeder is a great way to introduce new flavors and textures, don’t forget to offer foods on their tray as their grasp and handling of foods improves. I fully believe that some of BigBrother’s texture issues fall back on our reluctance to offer new textures and my general fear of a choking child. (Some, not all.) In short, don’t rely solely on the mesh feeder. We take time every few days to let LittleBrother touch and feel and attempt to eat (mostly slippery stuff is hard to pick up, even with a great pincer grasp) the foods that he has been eating in his mesh feeder. We only do this when present. Why?
As always, never leave your child unattended while eating. While the mesh feeder was created to help expose kids to a wider range of food without the scare of choking hazards, children can still choke on their own spit. Be present and alert whenever your child is eating anything.