How to Manage the Baby-Led Weaning Mess

Want to try baby-led weaning but nervous about the mess? These tips and products will help you streamline the clean-up process and make baby-led weaning a fun and enjoyable process or everyone.

Learn how to manage the baby-led weaning mess!
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As new moms, it can be awfully difficult to condone any sort of activity for our little one that will result in yet another mess. We’re all stretched so thin as it is, juggling too many responsibilities at once and trying to fit as much as we can into our day.

If you’re at all familiar with baby-led weaning (and if you’re not, click here), you know that it comes with its fair share of messes. Given the load us mamas are already bearing, this can be a huge drawback when it comes to deciding how we want to introduce solid foods to our little one. But it doesn’t have to be!

We have been so happy with the results of baby-led weaning for our little one that I’ll happily say it was well worth every single mess we had to clean up. That being said, we did learn a thing or two in the process about efficient clean-up, and this is what I’m sharing with you today.

Even if you didn’t go the baby-led weaning route, you’ve likely faced (or will be likely to face) a huge mealtime clean-up at some point in time, and these tips will help you too!

A toddler self-feeding herself a smoothie bowl in her high chair.

I’ve got a ton of other resources for baby-led weaning here on the blog, but I’ll just quickly explain WHY things get extra-messy with BLW and then we’ll get on to my (very) well-tested tips and tricks for cleaning.

WHY IS BABY-LED WEANING SO MESSY?

One of the main reasons baby-led weaning is so messy is because it highly encourages your child to start feeding him- or herself from the get-go. This includes grabbing onto finger foods, using utensils, and sipping from a cup from a very early age. The thought is that this enables your little one to better explore his or her food and learn to be self-sufficient. It also allows you to enjoy your meal at the same time as them.

As you can imagine, there’s a bit of a learning curve involved. It takes some time for your little one to get the hang of things, which can lead to some huge messes in the meantime.

Once you read these tips and get into a routine, clean-up will become a snap and it will no longer be something you dread. Let’s get into it!

TOP TIPS AND TRICKS FOR MANAGING THE BLW MESS

1. Invest in a “splat mat”

This is by far one of the best investments we made when embarking on our baby-led weaning journey with our little one. There are a ton of “splat mats” out there, which are simply plastic floor tarps that you place under your baby’s highchair to catch food and liquids. Not only do splat mats help protect your floors, they’re easy to wipe up and can just be removed and shaken out if there are only loose crumbs. My main hesitancy in getting a splat mat was that I wouldn’t be able to find one that would fit in with our decor (we have a huge open floor plan so all of our common area rooms run together) but I managed to find a not-so-offensive clear one like this that we have absolutely loved. There are a ton of inexpensive options out there, though, so you’re sure to find one that works for you.

2. Get a few full-coverage, easy-to-clean bibs

Bibs are another thing that can be a game-changer when it comes to dealing with the baby-led weaning mess. A lot of BLW moms love these silicone ones with the catch-all at the bottom, but I fell in love with these super cute Bapron Baby aprons that are easy to clean and come in tons of fun prints (not to mention they’re about as full-coverage as you can get.) Be sure to stock up on a few, though, because you’ll want to rinse them out or run them through the wash when they get messy.

3. Don’t be afraid to strip your chid down

Afraid the after-effects of a meal are going to completely ruin your little one’s outfit? Don’t be afraid to strip them down! Sure, you may want to avoid this when you’re out in public, but it’s an easy thing to do when you’re in the comfort of your own home. I still do this with my toddler when I know something she’s eating – I’m looking at you, popsicles! – is going to be particularly messy.

4. Get an easy-to-clean highchair

Let me tell you, those cushion-y, complicated highchairs are a nightmare to clean. If you don’t want to be disassembling and running a load of laundry after every meal, get an easy-to-clean highchair! After a ton of research, we purchased the Ikea Antilop highchair for our little one and were incredibly happy with it. I had even ordered the cushion insert you can get for it, but stopped using it after about a week because it was a pain to clean. The Antilop is not only super-easy to wipe down after every meal, it’s super cheap at less than $30 (if you purchase from Ikea). Can’t go wrong with that!

5. Stock up on microfiber cloths

I don’t know about you, but I hate making unnecessary waste. It only took us a few meals of going through our fair share of paper towels before I decided to stock up on a ton of microfiber cloths to use when cleaning up the BLW mess. These are great for not only cleaning the eating area, but also your little one’s face and hands (and anywhere else on their body that the mess may have reached.)  We probably have about 15 cloths in a folded stack in our kitchen that we cycle through. Simply throw any dirty ones in the wash anytime you’re doing a load!

6. Use eco-friendly disinfecting wipes

As much as I like minimizing waste, there are times when a microfiber cloth just won’t cut it. When this happens, we reach for our Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes. I love that these are still eco-friendly and safe for our babe as well. We use them to do a deeper clean on the highchair and to wipe down the splat mat on a regular basis.

7. Get a dog

Okay, I know you’re probably not going to go out and get a dog JUST for this reason, but I’d be lying if I said our pup didn’t make our baby-led weaning clean-up process a whole lot easier. Of course, we always monitor what’s on the ground before letting her eat (so she doesn’t eat anything that might make her sick) AND we make her wait to eat until after our little one is done. This helps prevent her from begging at the table and interrupting our – and our little one’s – meal. If you have a dog already, see if he or she might be willing to help pitch in with the cleaning! (I’m going to venture to say they’ll be more than happy to oblige.)

Dogs are a great way to manage the baby-led weaning mess!

So there you have it! My top tips and tricks for managing the baby-led weaning mess. I’d love to hear if you have any tips of your own that have been useful in the clean-up process. Let me know in the comments below!