All you need to know about Squeeze/Mesh Feeders
You might have seen baby feeders while browsing online or in baby stores and thought what a strange-looking pacifier. This strange-looking pacifier usually comes with a mesh head or a silicone one and is actually one of the best feeding tools for when your baby is weaning. In addition, it is also great for teething babies and toddlers.
The concept is simple. Essentially a baby feeder is a small pouch with holes that allow food to come out just like you would press food through a sieve. You have a choice between mesh and silicone for the pouch, and this pouch is attached to a handle so that your baby can self-feed.
Although some of these handles are just plastic handles for tiny hands to grasp, there are also other versions where the pouch is attached to a squeeze bottle.
Here are some of the benefits of using a mesh or silicone feeder:
Enables safe chewing
As adults, we tend to forget that learning to chew is a huge milestone for babies. It is a step up from the regular sucking motion that they are used to when drinking milk. Chewing actually requires a baby’s facial muscles, jaw and tongue to work in unison and this can only develop through a lot of practice. With the feeder, babies can practise chewing and gnawing on the pouch and enjoy different tastes safely.
Aids the transition to solids
Using a mesh or silicone feeder also opens up a world of textures, size and shape of food for your little one. When the food gets pushed through the holes on the pouch, it reduces the solid food into a mash that is safe to enjoy, while introducing some texture to their palate.
This is especially useful for babies who are less adventurous and hesitant about transitioning to solids. Every baby’s developmental progress is different which means some may not have the oral coordination for solids just yet.
This makes mesh and silicone feeders a great option because it gives your baby more control and time to get over their gag reflex. Consider it a positive encouragement for them to feel safe about swallowing. As your baby learns to chew and starts showing genuine interest in food, then you can take that as your cue to start offering the same food, cut into safe sizes, without the feeder.
Encourages other motor skills
The handle on the mesh or silicone feeder also encourages your baby to self-feed. The easy to grasp handle is easier to handle compared to the motor coordination needed by a spoon. It is even easier than the hand to mouth coordination when it comes to finger feeding.
Mesh and silicone feeders that come with a squeeze bottle attached also offers some tactile sensory exposure without all the mess. A win-win situation for both baby and parents.
Helps to soothe sore gums
The feeders themselves also make great “teethers” that help soothe sore gums and ease the discomfort of teething. Mums have known to freeze breastmilk and formula in them. You can also offer frozen fruits for older babies who have already started on solids.
It keeps them occupied!
Need to buy some time before food is ready? Offer your little one a mesh/silicone feeder filled with some healthy fruits! Every parent knows the hardest baby to feed is a hangry one. So if it is just one of those days where everything is just going out of schedule, grab a nearby banana, papaya or avocado and chuck it the feeder. Not only will it buy you some time, but that small little blood sugar boost might help to keep the meltdown at bay.
Frequently asked questions about mesh and silicone feeders.
1. Are they BPA-Free?
– Yes, mesh and silicone feeders are BPA-free
2. How do we clean a baby feeder?
-Cleaning a feeder should be fairly easy unless you have left the food sitting in the feeder for too long! This is especially true with mesh feeders.
A bottle brush, detergent and running water should do the job, otherwise, you can also soak it in hot water until the food dislodges and proceed to clean it as per normal.
3. Are they any cons when using a baby feeder?
-The only downside to using baby feeders is when parents overuse it. The feeder is a convenient way for parents to ease a baby into solids. Once your baby is comfortable with some texture it would be good to slowly introduce them to the food itself (in a safe way) without the feeder. This way they will not be too dependent on the texture of the feeder and move on to more solid food.