buyers guide feeding and highchairs

Everything you need to know about feeding & highchairs

From first suckling to three square meals a day, baby feeding can be one of the most rewarding parts of early parenting – and success is all about making sure both you and baby are comfortable and prepared. So here's our guide to the different feeding choices and the equipment on offer to help you.

Feeding tips & advice

  • unless you’re on call 24/7 for breastfeeding you’ll need some bottles in the feeding mix. Experts recommend offering a breastfed baby a bottle at around 4-6 weeks
  • not all babies like all teats so don’t stock up until the little one has decreed his/her preference
  • don’t start weaning until your baby's ready. Six months is about the average, but look for the clues including increased appetite, chewing motion & baby making a grab for the food on your plate
  • feeding babies is a messy old business. Let your standards slip and relish the mess!
  • if baby doesn’t like the taste of a food don’t struggle but equally don’t give up. Those little taste buds are developing by the day so try again in a week’s time
  • you can’t have too many bibs - whether they’re dribble bibs, scoop bibs or bandana bibs!

BREASTFEEDING

If breastfeeding works for you and your baby then Mother Nature will happily – and very economically - provide most of the equipment you need! There are just a few bits of kit you might like to consider to make nursing easier and more comfortable for both of you.

Breast pumps

Whether you're sharing the late-night shift with your partner, enjoying a bit of 'me time' while the doting relations take over, or you're going back to work, breast pumps are very useful items of baby equipment.

Two of a kind

Breast pumps use suction to draw milk from the breast into a container. There are two basic types: electric and manual ones. When it comes to choosing yours, the main question to ask yourself is how often you'll need it. Are you just looking for occasional time off or are you a working mother who has to store milk every day?

Electric breast pumps

Electric pumps get the job done quickly and efficiently. They're more expensive than manual pumps but probably worth it if expressing milk will be part of your daily routine. Electric pumps come in single, double and portable models. The double model pumps both breasts at once so should cut the amount of time it takes by a half. Portable or mini electric breast pumps are smaller and lighter than full size models and use either mains supply or batteries.

Manual breast pumps

Manual pumps are lightweight, small and inexpensive – and really all you need if you just want an occasional back-up bottle or to express milk to relieve pressure.

Milk storage

Breast pumps are supplied with one or more bottles, but you may want extra bottles or disposable bags for stocking up.

Bottle steriliser

Whether they contain breast milk or formula milk, newborn baby bottles should always be sterilised, so an electric or microwave baby bottle steriliser is an easy alternative to boiling water in the kettle or on the hob.

Soothe and relieve

There are nipple shields that protect your nipples during feeding, nipple creams that help heal chafing, bra pads to prevent leaking, and nursing pillows to help you feed in comfort.

Best dressed

Most people now realise that breastfeeding is a fact of life, but if you'd rather not breastfeed (or pump!) in public, a nursing cover or feeding scarf will provide privacy and focus for you and your baby. And of course a selection of well-fitting nursing bras are an essential to your lingerie drawer.

BOTTLE FEEDING

Whether you're expressing breast milk or making up formula milk, you're going to need bottles. There are lots of choices of both bottles and teats – including different shapes, materials, sizes and flow rates. These are all choices to make based on your baby's age and preference, so our advice is not to over-invest until you have found out what baby takes to best. And before you know it, it'll be time to move on to training cups…

Bottle choices

Essentially it comes down to:

  • reusable plastic bottles – popular, inexpensive, robust & easily available
  • reusable glass bottles – some parents believe that glass is the healthier option to deliver milk. It’s an entirely personal choice
  • disposable bottles – these consist of a non-disposable holder and disposable bags

Teat choices

The ideal teat for your baby is typically defined by his or her age. Most are made from silicone these days and there are different shapes to choose from – babies often feed better with one or the other, making your choice simple. And one size does not fit all: start with a small teat size for newborns and go bigger for toddlers. Similarly, the flow rate should be based on your baby's age. Check the packaging or online description to be sure you've the right one.

Good thinking

There's a lot to be said for beginning bottle feeding with a starter kit. These usually contain bottles, teats, soothers, cleaning brush – everything you need to get going. Special anti-colic feeding bottles are also available. These prevent baby swallowing air whilst drinking and can often make the switch between breast and bottle easier.

Bottle warmers & carriers

Bottle warmers are a nifty accessory that help ensure you're serving milk at the perfect temperature for your baby. And a portable insulated bottle carrier will help keep your bottles at the optimal temperature anytime you and baby are out and about.

Bottle steriliser

Whether they contain breast milk or formula milk, newborn baby bottles should always be sterilised, so a baby bottle steriliser or microwave steam bags are an easy alternative to boiling water in the kettle or on the hob. As an alternative, self-sterilising bottles can be made hygienic simply by heating the components in a microwave.

Little extras

A bottle cleaning brush is an essential item for keeping your bottles clean and ready for use. A good bottle storage rack or bottle tree will help you dry and store bottles easily between feeds. And for babies being fed on formula milk, a milk powder dispenser is an inexpensive but extremely useful buy.

Training cups

When it's time to move baby from bottles to cups, you can save yourself a lot of splishing and sploshing with a training cup or sipper. The bottle shaped cups with controlled flow ease the transition, and some designs have removable spouts so they convert into drinking cups when your child is ready. Whichever model you choose look out for easy grip handles and a non-slip base – and start by offering water for a quicker clean up!

STERILISERS

Whether they contain breast milk or formula milk, newborn baby bottles, teats and accessories should always be sterilised to protect your baby from harmful bacteria.

The basic choices

There are a few options for sterilising and which one is right for you depends on how often you need a steriliser. Electric and microwave sterilisers both use steam to sterilise bottles and accessories, and will take between four and nine minutes. Cold water sterilising uses chemical tablets or fluid and takes around 30 minutes.

Bottle sterilisers

If you’re going to use it daily and if you have worktop space, an electric steam steriliser is a good choice. Depending on the model, these can treat up to six bottles at a time and keep them sterile for at least six hours if left in the steamer. Then a prepared bottle of boiled water for making up formula or milk can be sealed into the bottle and stored in a refrigerator.

Microwave steam sterilisers

If you don't have worktop space for an electric steam steriliser and you do have a microwave oven, a microwave steam steriliser is a good investment. Fill with bottles, add a little water then pop in your microwave.

Cold water sterilising

Cold water sterilisers work by adding sterilising tablets or liquid to cold water in a special bucket or steriliser. This process usually takes about 30 minutes and can be useful if you don't have access to a microwave oven or electricity. A good standby we'd say – and perfect for holidays and people who aren't doing daily bottle feeding.

More options

Ideal for sheer convenience or if you're travelling and know the place you are going to has a microwave, microwave steriliser bags are a pretty good option, can be reused up to 20 times and will have everything ready in just a few minutes. As an alternative, http://www.kiddicare.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SearchResults?storeId=10001&catalogId=10751&langId=-1&fcd=set&Ntk=primary&N=0&Ns=Price%7C1&pageView=&x=0&y=0&Ntt=self+sterilisingself-sterilising bottles can be made hygienic simply by heating the components in a microwave.

WEANING

No sooner than you've got on top of the not-so-simple task of giving your baby milk, along comes the next feeding challenge: moving your little one on to solids. This messy mission is called weaning and it's when baby gets to discover and enjoy lots of the foods you do. So what do you need, besides patience and a good supply of bibs and wipes?

Spoons & dishes

When it comes to serving those first delicious morsels, you'll need a supply of small soft spoons (unless you're trying baby-led weaning in which case fingers will be just fine) and hurl-proof bowls or dishes. We’ve got a great choice including some clever options like heat-sensing spoons and divided dishes that let you serve several yummy flavours at once.

Beakers and training cups

When it's time to move baby on from bottles to cups, you can save yourself a lot of splishing and sploshing with a training or sippy cup. The bottle shaped cups with controlled flow ease the transition, and some designs have removable spouts so they convert into drinking cups when your child is ready. Whichever model you choose look out for easy grip handles and a non-slip base – and start by offering water for a quicker clean up!

Bibs and mats

Not all food makes it into baby's mouth, in fact not much to start with! So buy plenty of bibs. Baby bibs with a scooped design will catch most of the food that falls, and those with long sleeves offer maximum splat coverage. Mats also help keep things under control – both on the tabletop or highchair tray and on the floor at the base of baby's feeding station.

Food storage containers

Since a few mouthfuls is often all a baby will eat, food storage containers are essential – especially if you're investing your precious time knocking up nutritious homemade goodies. A good supply of baby storage pots will let you make larger quantities and store what's not need now in the fridge or freezer. And if you're planning to freeze food, special freezer trays and click-together pots make it very convenient to freeze in single portion-size quantities.

Food preparation

If your kitchen is already well equipped you may not need to buy any extra kit when you get to the spoon-welding stage. But otherwise, there a few helpers on offer – from purely basic to all the bells and whistles. A baby food grinder or manual baby food processor will get first foods to the right consistency, and mini blender will let you whizz up all kinds of nutritious nosh. Baby food steamers, yogurt makers and pasta and rice cookers are also available to give parents a helping hand in the kitchen – and are great to make healthier food options easy.

Food glorious food!

In just a short time your little one will be eating about three meals a day and enjoying a similar diet to the rest of the family (with no need to add to salt or sugar). Ready-made baby foods can be a lifesaver if you're spoon-feeding and find yourself away from home and blenderless – or at home and simply whacked out. Check out our range of mostly organic baby foods suitable for ages 4 months, 7 months and 10 months.

ON-THE-GO FEEDING

Being mobile means meals on the move. Here’s our guide to what you’ll need:

Bag it

A messenger bag contains plenty of pockets and space for all the essentials you and your little one will need on a day out or weekend away.

Thermal storage

A thermal bag will hold pre-filled baby bottles or baby food jars and the insulated sides will help keep contents hot or cold for several hours. These come in a range of sizes including those that can be attached to a pram.

Food storage

Food pots and snack storage boxes with tight-fitting lids are essential for weaning babies on the go. And don't forget to pack a training cup or beaker for drinks and that mealtime essential – the bib!

Gadgets galore

There are also a few good gadgets to look out for including snack containers which let baby help themselves to one snack at a time, a baby food dispensing spoon that holds the food within the handle, and a portable press that turns any suitable cooked or raw food into puree on the spot!

HIGHCHAIRS

As soon as your start introducing solids and your baby can sit unsupported you’ll need somewhere for baby to eat – and fling food from! From a baby's point of view, highchairs are really exciting – putting them at eye level with grown ups, being introduced to solid foods and having the perfect vantage point to do lots of looking around. To keep baby safe all our highchairs have a crutch strap and five-point harness but remember you should never leave baby alone in a highchair.

Here are your choices:


Wooden highchairs

Often popular because they look good alongside existing furniture, wooden highchairs come in all shapes and sizes – from stackable models on a square frame to those which convert from highchair to dining chair (suitable from six months right through to 14 years). Some wooden highchairs are designed to be pulled-up to a table so baby eats with you, whilst others have their own tray. The Funpod Highchair even converts to a safety stool device for your little one to get involved with food prep at the kitchen counter.

Contemporary highchairs

From your standard everyday highchair to the most streamlined and stylish models, there's a very wide choice within this category. Besides your budget and personal taste, it's worth considering how much room you have, washability, portability (if you need it) and adjustability. Some contemporary highchairs have recliner inserts - handy if your little one likes a snooze immediately after feeding. Detachable trays can also give most contemporary styles the option of independent use or feeding at the table or breakfast bar.

Folding highchairs

Sounds obvious, but if space in your kitchen or dining room is tight a folding highchair is the best option and will stow neatly away when not in use. There are plenty of models to choose from usually with lightweight coated metal frame, padded PVC-covered seat and easy wipe plastic tray. And don't think practicality sacrifices style – some folding baby high chairs pack a real design punch.

Portable, travel & booster highchairs

Whether you're holidaying, off to granny’s or simply don't have room for a freestanding highchair, a portable seat that clips directly onto your table or chairs is an easy solution. Travel highchairs that fold up are also a good option for globetrotters, and booster seats that secure with straps to most standard chairs will let baby dine in comfort almost anywhere.

Highchair accessories

Optional extras include cushions and floor mats to protect the area around the highchair from whatever you're serving. There’s also a great range of highchair toys with special suction bases to turn any highchair tray into a fascination station!




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