Hi Rennae, thank you so much for sitting down with us to chat about your experience with starting solids and also tell us a little more about Grabease! I had the privilege of meeting you a few years back at a One Fine Baby event and fell in love with your gorgeous cutlery range. I am so excited for us to feature you on our blog so you can share a little more about yourself, your feeding journey with your little one and of course Grabease!
Can you tell us a little about yourself? I believe you are a Mum and also a nutritionist?
I’m a Mum of two. I have a son aged 8 and a daughter aged 4. With my son, I first discovered baby-led weaning (BLW) and loved everything about it. The shared meals, the ability to fulfil nutritional needs without too much hassle and the added developmental benefits such as motor and speech development that came with it. As I love to cook, it just made mealtimes more fun. My interest grew and so I did a children’s nutrition certification to be sure I was providing the very best I could for my kids.
Tell us a little about Grabease and why you loved it so much you had to bring it to Australia?
When my daughter was born, I started looking again for tools that would complement BLW and found Grabease. A new company with just one product, a self-feeding fork and spoon set…the difference, they had a short handle, a choke-guard and were endorsed by Occupational Therapists for motor development. This all resonated with me. After my daughter tried them at 7 months, I couldn’t help but marvel at how well the design worked. I also really felt that Aussie babies needed Grabease to support their development. I couldn’t get the product out of my head. So one day, I took the plunge and contacted the company in the US.
The designer, based in LA, created the cutlery for her son, as she saw the struggle to self-feed with traditional long-handled cutlery. She took her baby spoons and broke the handles off and created new handles out of play-dough until she found the tear-drop shape we now have. Since then Grabease has gone from strength to strength, with now having a double-sided toothbrush (with our signature choke guard), a 2 in 1 Silicone Teether Spoon, an Allover Bib that covers baby AND highchair as well as our, Silicone Suction Bowl launching at the end of the year.
3 years on, I have seen first-hand the developmental benefits of Grabease. My daughter was able to self-feed at 14 months old, had her pencil grip by 12 months old, could use a knife and fork at 24 months (doesn’t always do that now) and learnt to write her name at 3 and a half. All of these milestones have been achieved because the handle encourages the correct hand-hold (pincer grip vs fist hold).
How to introduce cutlery into the mealtime experience? What is an appropriate age for children to start using cutlery?
Cutlery can and should be introduced from day 1. Our recommendations are 6 months old, in-line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the basic signs of readiness. If you consistently give cutlery, they will use them, especially if they see you using yours.
- Allow Baby to play with cutlery whilst in the highchair (supervised) with and without food.
- Eat together, this is how they learn about mealtime etiquette.
- Pre-load the cutlery and place on the high chair tray or table for Baby to easily pick-up
- Have 3 spoons/forks per meal-time so you don’t have to pick-up dropped or thrown cutlery. They will soon tire of the game if you don’t pick them up. The multiple spoons also help with loading and swapping with each bite as sometimes they just don’t want to let go.
- Be consistent
You chose to use BLW to introduce solids to your little one. What appealed to you about this method of feeding?
As soon as I read about Baby-Led Weaning, I knew it was the only way I wanted to wean my son. It just all made sense. The anatomy of the tongue and the gag reflex. The ease of mealtimes. The ability to go out without worrying about what to bring and how much, we could just share a meal. Studies show reduced pickiness in eating habits, as well as developmental benefits for the senses, speech and motor skills.
Once we started, my son took to it straight away. I loved watching how much fun he had and the developmental benefits. BLW fit so perfectly into our lifestyle and current eating habits that I really didn’t have to change much about our mealtimes at all. I made one meal for all of us, he would try anything and is a great little eater now.
Particularly for first time parents, the thought of their child choking often puts them off BLW, could you provide some tips around managing this fear?
It can certainly be very confronting when starting the weaning process. I would suggest 4 things;
- Read Gill Rapley’s Book – Baby Led Weaning. The essential guide to Introducing Solid Foods. This explains the gag reflex in babies and that it sits further on the tongue than an adult’s. This acts as a safety mechanism. In short, gagging doesn’t equal choking.
- Do a baby first aid course. This will give you all the confidence to remain calm and allow your baby to work through the gagging without you being fearful, as you know how to respond if necessary.
- Speak to other Mums who have done Baby Led Weaning with their baby’s. You may even want to be present at a meal. This will allow you to see the low risk and what gagging actually looks like (if it happens).
- Learn to recognise the signs of gagging and the signs of choking.
Gagging = red in the face
Choking = blue in the face
What would you recommend as first foods for parents wanting to try BLW?
There are no particular first foods as Baby-Led weaning encourages family meals. Serve them what you’re eating. My son’s first food was lettuce and my daughters was a green bean. I would suggest not adding salt or sugars to their serves. Instead, amp up the flavours with herbs and spices. I would also encourage exposing them to high allergen foods as soon as possible. These include Eggs, Milk, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Shellfish, Fish, Wheat and Soybeans.
An important requirement for Baby-led Weaning is to cut the foods presented into finger length and width size pieces. This allows the baby to grasp and to get a few good bites.
Keeping this in mind, don’t think you can’t serve stews or soups to new weaners, you just have to think about how they can best eat it. For example, serve lukewarm soup with big chunks of bread in it so it soaks up the liquid. They can even use the bread to scoop with.
Thank you for reading! We’d love for you to check out Grabease today!
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