At Ryan’s 9 month appointment, his pediatrician told me that it was time to start giving his 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. Uhm. That’s a lot of food, right? Between nursing, naps, and playtime, I wasn’t sure when we would find time to strap him into a high chair five times a day and keep everyone sane.
In the beginning we stuck to about 1 snack a day just because I was still nursing him a lot and he wasn’t that hungry. Plus, have you ever put a 9 month old in a high chair to eat? Do you know how long it can take a 9 month old to eat? A long, long time.
Eventually Ryan started showing signs that he was needing a bit more. Since he is such a crazy and active little boy, I knew putting him in his high chair that often was just not going to happen, so we had to get creative. Snacks in the car, jumpy, and on the floor have become the norm.
Another question – have you ever watched a baby/toddler (TODDLER?! Do I have a toddler?!) eat anything? It’s gross. So the second task was to find snacks that were clean(ish) and wouldn’t get smeared all over my house, car, or baby equipment. I came up with a pretty good rotation of snacks that Ryan loves and that I feel good about giving him.
Baby Led Weaning: Clean Snacks
-Raw apple. This is Ryan’s ultimate right now. The kid goes through a whole apple a day these days. He eats a big chunk in the morning in his jumpy while I wake up, and another chunk after each nap. He wakes up hungry now, and I’m trying to cut down nursing especially since he nurses to nap. Steamed apples with the peel on work as well for babies with less developed chewing.
-Freeze-dried fruit. Freeze dried apples are awesome “first” snacks instead of puffs. We didn’t want to give Ryan processed foods, and the freeze dried apples kind of melt in your mouth, perfect for babies. We like the Crispy Green brand, and it’s the perfect snack for the car. The cantaloupe, mango and pineapple (pineapple is smaller, harder and crunchier so maybe hold off on it for little bitty snackers.) are our favorites. Target also carries a great apple and apple cinnamon flavor that we love.
–Banana cookies. Anytime we go anywhere for more than an hour or two, I throw a bunch of these into a zip top bag and throw it in the diaper bag.
-Tortilla roll-ups. Take a tortilla (we use flour – homemade with Spectrum shortening makes them MSPI friendly) and put PB&J or PB and sliced bananas (honey too, if 12+ months) roll up and slice. For Ryan, they usually stay together, rolled up, and clean. Serving them like long, uncut cigars may keep the mess at bay even more.
–Pancakes. With Ryan’s first few snacks, I cut up pancakes and drizzled syrup or PB and jelly for his snack in high high chair. But now, I make XL pancakes and cut them into sticks sans toppings. They’re a little crumbly, but not covered in stickiness.
-Sliced grapes. Slice grapes lengthwise and put into a snack cup and let ’em go. Make sure your baby is ready for small items, though.
-Annie’s Bunnies. Okay, so I know what I said about boxed/processed food, but once Ryan was throwing a fit at the store and I was also hungry so I caved. There are definitely worse snacks out there, so I don’t feel too bad. These bunnies are so good, and they’re become my secret weapon.
As with anytime you’re giving a baby food, please keep an eye on them to make sure that they’re not choking, having a reaction, etc. Ryan will literally run around the house holding an apple, so I’m constantly walking in circles to keep an eye on him.
While these snacks aren’t 100% clean, they are cleaner than some other snacks like yogurt or some stickier fruits. Sometimes I need to wipe off Ryan’s hands and face, and none of these are completely mess or crumb free (heck, what is with a baby?) but it’s definitely helpful.
If you’re new to baby led weaning, or just want more information on the process, check out the other posts in my baby led weaning series:
What are your little one’s favorite snacks? Do you have as much trouble as I do keeping crumbs off everything? Let me know in the comments!