Saturday 12 June 2010

Boots - Baby Weaning Essentials

Now that he's almost 11-months-old, Pierre is interested in the food that we're eating and would much rather tuck into what we've got on our plates than a jar of baby food. Whenever I can, I like to let him participate in meal times with a little bit of rice or small pasta or a bowl full of chopped up banana, strawberries or melon. He loves it all, but I'm always worried about letting him taste the meals that I prepare for the family in case they are too salty for him. I have tried cooking without salt but that provides meals that don't appeal to grown-up palates.

When Boots approached me to test some of their weaning products, I discovered the existence of Baby Organic stock cubes, which I had never heard of until then. They contain no artificial colours, flavourings or preservatives and are free from egg, milk products, soya and gluten, as well as having a controlled salt level suitable for baby. Just like normal stock cubes, they come in a choice of chicken, beef or vegetable and they are perfect for adding flavour to meals that all the family can enjoy together without the harmful levels of salt that normal grown-up seasoning could provide. They are also organic and approved by Boots Baby Food Experts. 100g of made-up stock contains 9 calories - that sounds very low to me, although I haven't checked the figures with regular stock cubes, so if you're cooking for someone who's watching their waistline or their salt intake, baby or not, they could provide a useful alternative. The stock cubes can be cut into two or four if you're preparing small amounts of baby food just for your little one, but I love using a whole one in dishes that they whole family can enjoy. (Click here for some recipe ideas using these stock cubes.)

Boots also have a range of other products that are really useful when you're weaning and that I find to be real timesavers. Firstly, the Baby Freezer Pots are fabulous for saving small portions of leftovers from baby-friendly family meals that would probably otherwise end up in the bin (or the dog !). Not only a timesaver, because you'll have a lovingly prepared homemade meal ready to defrost for baby, but also a penny-saver. You can use them for storing food in the fridge or freezer and they are also microwave and dishwasher safe which is brilliant. They look a bit flimsy in the pack but are actually quite robust. One piece of advice - don't overfill the pots ! The food will increase in volume as if freezes so if you fill each pot more than 2/3 full, there's a strong chance the lid will pop off in the freezer. I know lots of people use icecube trays for freezing small portions of homemade baby food but these pots seem more hygienic to me.

Another brilliant invention is the suction mat that you can use for sticking baby's bowl or plate to his high chair tray. As Pierre loves turning his bowl upside down, chewing on his plate and generally creating as much mess as possible, I was keen to give it a try. I was a bit confused when I pulled it out of the pack because it's only got a sucker on one side, but the flat side clings magically to flat surfaces and the sucker allows you to attach the plastic plate or bowl. It won't prevent a really determined baby from pulling the plate off the sucker and throwing it on the floor but it is a deterrent and prevents all the messy accidents when the plate slips off the high chair tray without baby actually intending it to. The little sticky-up bit makes it really easy to peel off the high chair tray and Pierre actually likes playing with it, sticking it on, peeling it off and feeling the rubbery texture as if it's in a touchy-feely book !
As you can see from the "with" and "without" pictures below, it makes feeding time a slightly less messy affair !

star rating : 4/5
RRP : freezer pots from £2.99, stock cubes £1.49 for 6, suction mat £3.99

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