15 Aug Baby Led Weaning on holiday
We’ve just come back from our first family holiday as a 4 in Portugal.
We were self catering and had planned to eat breakfast in our apartment and have lunch and dinner in cafes and restaurants. I didn’t mind making a quick breakfast each day but I refused to do any actual cooking whilst we were on holiday. I was a little bit worried about baby led weaning and also feeding Oliver whilst we were there as I wasn’t sure how much choice there’d be at meal times or how baby friendly the restaurants would be, but I needn’t have worried. Here’s how we got on with weaning on holiday, from coping with different routines and meal times to keeping snacks sand free on the beach and avoiding chicken nuggets, chips and beans every single day.
For our first holiday we opted to stay in a self catering hotel room so that we had basic cooking facilities and could eat when it suited us rather than be limited to hotel breakfast times.
On the first day we found a shop and stocked up on essentials. We had breakfast in our room every day, partly to keep costs down, and partly because no-where was open at 7am when the boys wanted breakfast. The things I bought for breakfast were plain yoghurt, oranges, blackberries, porridge oats, bread, butter, jam and milk. Over the week as we walked past markets and shops I topped up on things like fruit and yoghurt, and I also bought little treats, like biscuits for them. Even though the room had plates and cutlery I took our own as it made it easier for Charlie to eat with baby sized cutlery.
Like most holiday resorts abroad, the restaurants did children’s meals.
Unfortunately for us, these usually consisted of either chicken nuggets, fish fingers or sausages and chips. They were priced around 5-7 euros each. I’m more than happy for the boys to eat these foods occasionally, but had we limited their food options to the kid’s menu only, they would have had a very beige diet and no variety during the week. Plus, for me, one of the best parts of eating out on holiday is trying new foods and I want to pass this passion on to them!
We chose to buy something from the adult’s menu and split it between the two children, it usually worked out about the same price as two children’s meals and meant they got to try a wider variety of dishes, and it usually had a side salad too, which the children’s meals didn’t! Examples of meals we split for them are chicken curry and rice (not very Portugese I know!), tuna steak, saute potatoes and vegetables, pizza, chilli con carne and rice, fish stew with clams and prawns and rice and lasagne, melon and parma ham and Charlie’s favourite of the week which was seafood linguine with clams, mussels and prawns. In some places when I asked for an extra plate and explained the children would share the meal they already split it up for me which helped.
Most dishes came with chips so both boys did end up having some chips most days, but I tried not to worry and just figured we don’t have them at home very often, and they were having plenty of goodness too!
One thing I did to offset the chips was to make sure they had plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Most places did a fresh fruit salad for dessert for about 4-6 euros, so on the nights we had a starter rather than get the boys a starter I ordered a fruit salad for them and they shared it. It’s a bit odd having fruit before the meal, we tend to save it for the end usually but they love fresh fruit and happily ate it, Oliver thought it was such a novelty having fruit before dinner, it kept them occupied and meant they got some goodness in!
For lunches we mainly had jacket potatoes, toasties, sandwiches and salads, and I just shared one between the boys again. One lunch time Oliver, age 4, wanted chicken wings and chips as we’d seen it on a board walking in. I didn’t think that Charlie, one, would manage little chicken wings so I ordered him melon and Parma ham from the starters section, but asked the Parma ham to be swapped to sandwich ham, and then I also just gave him some egg and bits from my salad too.
I got some new bibs for our holiday, usually I use Bibetta coverall bibs but I thought that they might be too hot. I took Tiddlers and Nippers bibs which I had been gifted. They come in a pack of 3 and were perfect for travelling. The fabric was waterproof and lightweight, if Charlie spilt anything on it, it wiped off, and the night he had lasagne and absolutely covered it, I just washed it in the sink when we got back to our room. The catchy bit at the bottom was large enough to catch most bits of food. The prints are really cute, one was seaside themed which was perfect for holiday and one was London themed, which lots of people commented on how much they liked it!
I was worried that the restaurants on holiday might have unsuitable high chairs but most actually just had the Ikea Antelop we have at home.
The problem was that most places only had one high chair, and if someone else was using it we would either have had to hold Charlie on our laps or sit him on a chair, neither of which were a suitable option for us so we actually left a few places that we had wanted to eat. When I got back from holiday I had been gifted with a Polar Gear travel booster seat to try, which I wish I’d been able to take on holiday with us! We’ve since used it at a friend’s house and it’s great it straps onto any dining chair with a 5 point harness and comes with a wipe clean place mat too. This would have given us a bit more freedom of choice of restaurants as we wouldn’t have been limited by not having a high chair. It would have been good for in the hotel room and at the airport too.
Another genius thing I took with me for holiday, both for my 1 year old and my 4 year old are these silicone cup sippy cup lids. They stretch to go over any cup and are non spill, meaning they turn any glass into a beaker. No more spilt cups of drink at the table, and we didn’t have to pack bulky beakers. Would you believe that the one time I didn’t use them as I left them in the hotel room my 4 year old spilt and entire cup of milk reaching across the table. Typical!
I found the later nights of eating didn’t really bother the boys as much as I expected it to. I gave them an extra snack about 5pm when we would usually have dinner at home, and it kept them going until we ate dinner which was usually 7-8ish. If you are going to eat later, make sure to take lots of snacks with you during the day to keep them going until dinner but also take them to the restaurant, it’s so stressful having a screaming baby who’s hungry when the food is taking a long time!
Speaking of snacks, I took my NomNomKids snack bags and pouches with me and used them every day, they were especially useful when we went to the beach. I took yoghurt in the pouches and in the snack bags I took peeled oranges (so I didn’t need to try and peel an orange with sandy hands!), crisps and biscuits. It was so much easier for the boys to suck yoghurt from the pouches than have to contest with yoghurt pots and sandy spoons and sand blowing in their yoghurts.
Another thing I did was to keep an empty clean large sandwich snack bag with me. Some days Charlie would fall asleep in the buggy on the way to lunch, so when he did this I put left any lunch leftovers like chopped jacket potato or slices of pizza in the bag and then I would give it to him when he woke up.
Overall, the resort we chose was very child friendly, waiters were really good with them, playing with them and bringing them little treats like biscuits and cocktail glass embellishments to play with.
If you’ve got any other top tips for feeding weaning babies and children on holiday or life hack product ideas please let me know in the comments below!
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