What will my baby eat? Should I worry about food hygiene? What if they get sick? Will I have to take pre-packaged foods? It may feel daunting, but introducing solid foods whilst on the road should be a fun and enjoyable experience. In fact, it needn’t be any different than if you were at home.
With my first daughter, I was apprehensive about weaning away from the comfort of home and familiarity of our usual foods. First time around, when we went travelling, I stuffed my bag to the brim with a load of pre-packaged foods. This was entirely unnecessary and ended up being an extra weight to lug around.
My now seven month old is weaning while we are travelling for six months. Second time around, I’ve grown more confident in making do with what’s on hand at each destination. I’ve found it’s much easier to use local ingredients and give her more of what we are eating. I wanted to share my experiences with you and hope you find these tips helpful.
This post is not meant to replace advice from your child’s healthcare professional. If you live in the UK, see the NHS England website for the latest guidance on introducing solids.
1. Make it fun and enjoyable – for everyone!
Whether you decide to do pureed food, baby-led weaning or a mix of both, your child’s first foods should be introduced in a relaxed environment. Remember these early weeks of weaning are more about discovering the tastes and textures of different foods than putting away three square meals a day.
This should be the same regardless of where you are – at home or away. This time, we’ve chosen to do a mix of pureed food and baby-led weaning, mainly for the sake of convenience more than anything else.
Don’t sweat it if your child doesn’t actually eat much at the start. Up until the age of one, the majority of an infant’s nutrition should be from milk feeds (breastmilk or formula). Bear in mind that appetites can decrease in hotter conditions, so don’t be surprised if your baby does not want to eat very much sometimes.
2. Sort the seating
If you are on the road for any length of time, there is one piece of equipment that I feel is essential for introducing solids. And that is a portable highchair. I am a total stickler for travelling light (you can read why here) and this is by far one of my bulkiest items. But it’s totally worth it.
We use the incredibly versatile, but compact Lobster highchair by Phil and Teds. This highchair has travelled the world with both children and we even use it at home in the kitchen as a second highchair. It’s not cheap but in terms of cost per use, it has been an incredibly good investment. We don’t bother taking the tray with us and put food directly onto a clean surface.
As well as giving your child a safe and comfortable feeding environment, it’s excellent for sitting baby in to play. If this sort of highchair is too bulky or heavy for you, then there are loads of other options to choose from, including a neat looking inflatable highchair, or this incredibly compact totseat. Of course if you are staying in accommodation where you know you will have access to a highchair, that’s fantastic!
3. Be prepared and have the right equipment
There are are only three other essential bits of kit that I bring with us to help with introducing solids and it makes life so much easier.
- Sippy cup: It’s essential to give your little one water during meals and throughout the day in hotter countries. I love the simple yet sturdy Tommee Tippee sippy cup. It is really easy for baby to hold and simple to keep clean. For older infants, the lid comes off and it can be used as a first cup.
- Bib: There is no denying that weaning is a messy business. A good bib can really help with the clean up operation. I use the Tommee Tippee Roll ‘N’ Go bib. It’s got a handy pouch to catch crumbs, is really easy to wipe clean and rolls up small so perfect for travelling.
- Weaning spoons: I like the long handled ones – but any old sort will do (it’s only a spoon!). If you are introducing purees, it’s great to have one spoon for you to do the feeding with and one spoon to give baby to hold. I started the trip with three spoons, but unfortunately have managed to lose all three already! So we are now making do with teaspoons.
4. Keep hydrated
It’s very important to ensure that your little one keeps well hydrated with both water and milk feeds when they are weaning, particularly in hot conditions. We never leave the house without my daughter’s sippy cup and give her small amounts every so often and always with meals.
Unfortunately I learnt my lesson the hard way and found myself with a very constipated baby, which I’ve put down to not enough fluids and too many bananas. It made for a miserable few days. Now I’m extra careful about ensuring my youngest stays well hydrated and have upped the quantities of fruit and vegetables that she is eating.
Always ensure that the water used to drink or make up bottles is safe to drink. This may mean using filtered, bottled or boiled water depending on where you are.
6. Be prepared for mess
Introducing solids is a messy affair. There’s no two ways about it. The good thing about travelling to hot countries is that you can strip baby off and feed in just a nappy.
This reduces the laundry pile and means that you can dip baby in the bath, shower, pool or sea straight afterwards for a post-meal clean up. FUN!
7. Feed baby what you are eating
Whilst you are travelling, it is not always necessary to cook or prepare your baby special meals. In fact, it makes for a really positive start to your child’s relationship with food if they try the same foods that you are eating, enjoyed together at family mealtimes.
This can include things like sticks of vegetables, toast cut into strips, all sorts of fruit including watermelon, mango, banana and a personal favourite of mine – avocado. Eggs are all sorts of brilliant and both of my daughters have enjoyed scrambled eggs from the earliest days of weaning. Cheese and yoghurt are also great protein-packed foods that are readily available in many places. In practice this usually means ordering or preparing meals for ourselves that will have foods that she can eat and giving her a selection off of our plates.
8. Think about food preparation
If you are wanting to cook and prepare foods, having access to kitchen facilities is helpful. We stay in a mix of villas and apartments with kitchens and this has made food prep a doddle.
We’ve also stayed in hotels and guest houses where the staff have always been more than happy to let me use their kitchen to cook up some carrots, scramble some eggs or chop up some fruit.
Access to a kitchen is by no means essential. I travel with a pen knife which is handy for prepping fruit and veg and I’ve used a hotel room kettle to boil up water to prep powdered puree.
9. Stay safe with foods
Food safety is important for everyone, regardless of age. Travellers diarrhoea is unpleasant for adults, but potentially very dangerous for young children due to the fact that they can become dangerously dehydrated very quickly.
My eldest daughter became very ill and ended up in hospital with suspected salmonella on Christmas Day 2014. It turned out to be some unknown virus and she was okay after a few days, buts we take no chances with the children. If food hygiene is potentially an issue in the areas that you are travelling in, remember the golden rule when feeding your little one: If you can’t peel it or heat it, don’t eat it.
Fortunately there are loads of foods that falls into these categories. We all wash our hands before each meal and carry hand sanitiser and wipes to clean surfaces that food will come into contact with.
Do you have any tips on introducing solids while travelling? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below.
Please note that there are affiliate links in this post. If you purchase something through an affiliate link, don’t worry, it won’t cost you any extra money – but a small percentage of the sale goes towards funding our travels.