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3 Reasons Why Kitchen + Pantry Organization Isn’t Just About Looks

When we finally finished renovating our kitchen late last November, we were so ready to move back into it! We’d been cooking on a hot plate in our bathroom for three months at that point, our foodstuffs were stored in boxes in the living room, and poor Ivan had worked with the electric hum of our old fridge in his office for the duration of the construction. In fact, I was so desperate when the day at last arrived to start using our new kitchen, that I just loaded the drawers and cupboards willy-nilly, without giving any thought to organization. Although a part of me wanted to agonize over finding the perfect arrangement of organization tools and functional kitchen extras—you know, all those little details that truly complete a space—I knew that the best route was simply to start living in the kitchen to get a feel for its ins, outs, and idiosyncrasies.

But then, after two months of cooking and cleaning in our new kitchen, the moment had definitely come to implement those finishing touches. For one thing, our tall pantry cabinet was an utter disaster, crammed full with products whose bulky original packaging made the drawers impossible to navigate. Then, because our dry goods weren’t stored properly, we developed a serious moth problem—which meant I had to toss a heartbreaking quantity of food. Finally, a few eyesore items were hanging on from our previous kitchen: A ratty broom, two battered trash bins, and a paint-splattered footstool were seriously harshing my aesthetic vibe! So when Bed Bath & Beyond approached me to share some of my favorite kitchen and pantry organization tips—and to illustrate them using finds from their huge selection of stylish homewares—the timing couldn’t have been better! And as I planned, shopped for, and implemented a few small but impactful upgrades, I realized something really important: as much as the project was driven by aesthetics and function, truly thoughtful kitchen organization is about so much more than improving how a kitchen looks and operates. By impacting how a kitchen works, the right touches can transform how you feel when you’re in it. Here’s how!

1. The Satisfaction of Saving Money + The Environment: You know the toasty glow that wells up inside of you when you’re behaving like a responsible grownup?! I love that sensation, and feeling on top of things around the house is one of my favorite ways to get it. In the kitchen, that means sticking to a grocery budget, and making choices that benefit the planet as much as possible—like buying in bulk, which is markedly more cost effective and cuts back on packaging to boot! Yet economy-sized quantities aren’t exactly cupboard friendly, especially in a small kitchen like ours, so decanting manageable amounts into storage jars is essential. (We store the excess in a sealed bin in the garage.) The clear glass containers and glass bottles that I chose are square, allowing me to fit the maximum number neatly into our pantry drawers. Their screw-top lids seal tightly to keep ingredients fresh (and to keep pests like our darn moths away), thus preventing wasted food. I even picked up some adjustable drawer dividers to keep the jars from sliding around, because I always get a little thrill of confidence when I open a drawer and see my storage canisters all tidy in a row. When I look at them, I think to myself, “Gosh, if I can get my pantry in order, then certainly I’m capable of whatever else the day may send my way!

2. The Ease of Cooking at Home for Better Health: Without a doubt, the thing I missed most during our renovation was having the space to indulge my love of cooking! I always feel so much more energetic when I’m preparing my own fresh, nutrient-dense meals at home, and having my menu repertoire limited by the hotplate in the bathroom definitely led us to reach for the takeout menu more than I liked. Having all my tools back in action after the renovation reinvigorated my desire to try new dishes—and having my stockpile of ingredients so tidy and accessible after this pantry upgrade has taken my kitchen momentum to a whole other level! The see-through jars and bottles for dry goods, oils, and vinegars let me know when they’re running low, so I can refill them before they empty. (So important to have staples on-hand I decide to experiment with recipes on a whim!) The uniform rows of spice tins enable me to ditch the odd-sized packaging that most spices come in, so I can fit more into my drawer for a broad range of international flavors at my fingertips. And wooden tea storage boxes keep my previously out-of-control teabag collection in check. I used a label maker to print all those labels and stick them facing up, which makes quickly grabbing ingredients no-brainer—and returning them to their designated spot a cinch. It’s a dream come true to have my kitchen set up in a way that allows me to create delicious, healthful meals without worrying about tripping over functional obstacles. (And of course, if cooking isn’t naturally your thing but you’re striving to do it more frequently in support of your health, then streamlining the process is key for you too!)

3. The Joy of Reveling In the Details: This is perhaps the most subtle effect of our kitchen and pantry organization upgrade, but for me it’s the most important. I simple hate the unsettled feeling of a project left incomplete. After all, follow-through and attention to detail is what makes good things truly great! Going to so much effort to design and install a beautiful, efficient kitchen, and then using a broom that was held together with duct tape to sweep our gorgeous new tiles, well…let’s just say it felt like I’d dressed up for a red carpet event only to wear dirty hiking shoes with my gown! I replaced our busted broom with a simple, utilitarian wood broom whose beech handle matches the materials palette of the kitchen. Out went the sloppy trash bins and in came a stainless steel trash and recycling can whose narrow profile perfectly suits our tight floor plan. And bye-bye to the rickety footstool that was well past its prime; hello to the aerodynamic, lightweight stepladder that stows in our laundry cupboard when not in use! Sure, these final touches seem small in the scheme of things, but they’re big for someone like me who takes personal pride in knowing that I’ve cut no corners, left no stone unturned. Now, six months since we tore down the first walls and began our renovation, I can say that the kitchen is really, truly complete. And you know what? It feels so darn good!

Our Complete Pantry Makeover Shopping Guide: 1. Square Glass Food Storage Canisters 2. Large Glass Storage Bottles 3. Small Glass Storage Bottles 4. Metal Spice Tins 5. Label Maker 6. Bamboo Drawer Dividers 7. Wood Tea Storage Box 8. Lightweight 3-Step Stool 9. Utilitarian Wood Broom 10. Simplehuman Recycler Trash Can Photos: Monica Wang. Disclosure: I partnered with Bed, Bath & Beyond to concept, produce, style, shoot, write, edit, and share this post. All opinions are and always will be my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that enable me to bring you fresh inspiration daily!

Best maternity and nursing bras

our body goes through vast, Herculean changes during pregnancy in order to support and grow your little one, with breasts being one of the first areas to grow.

In fact, your boobs can begin to change significantly even from the first trimester, with research indicating that in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy alone, a woman’s breast shape and size can alter by a cup size or more.

In all, it’s typical for a women’s band and cup size to increase by two to four sizes during pregnancy. As such, you’ll want to find a bra that not only keeps you comfortable and supported, but can also accommodate your changing body.

When should I start wearing a maternity bra?

All women experience pregnancy differently, but you can expect your body – and breasts – to start changing during your first trimester. For many women, seeing their breasts change shape and size or experiencing swelling and tenderness can be one of the first symptoms that they are pregnant. When deciding when to begin wearing a maternity bra, it ultimately comes down to comfort and support; maternity bras are designed to offer both, so you may find that you want to start wearing one soon after you find out you’re pregnant.

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Do I need a maternity bra?

Maternity bras are not a de facto necessity; some women choose to stick to their regular styles, increasing their band and cup size accordingly. But, you may find that as your bump grows significantly – particularly as you head into your third trimester – that underwired models can dig into your rib cage. If you’re looking for comfort, ultimately, maternity and nursing bras – designed with pregnancy in mind – are certainly something to consider.

What should I look for in a maternity bra?

Comfort and support are undoubtedly two key considerations when it comes to finding the right maternity bra for you, but you may also want to factor in other aspects such as how much room for growth there is in the bra (whether there is room to extend the back band or add band extenders, for example), and whether the bra is nursing-friendly. Many women decide to buy nursing bras from the outset, especially if they’re considering trying to breastfeed once the little one arrives.

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M&S 2pk Maternity Lace Trim Nursing Bras

A two-pack is always a handy investment, particularly when it comes to breastfeeding and leakages.

Smooth, comfortable and padded, these structured bras, made from sustainable cotton, are a great option if you’re looking for some structural support as well as comfort. The padding will also provide comfort should you be experiencing sore or uncomfortable nipples.

While they are well-structured and have a hook and eye fastening on the back, there is a nice amount of stretch and give in them, too. The nursing clips can be easily undone one-handed.

As well as being functional, the little bow on the front and the lace trim adds a nice bit of embellishment.

Lindex Soft Nursing Bra with Leo Print

Proving that nursing bras don’t have to be unsightly to be comfortable and supportive, this eye-catching piece, available in dark dusty yellow and light brown, is sure to help you look and feel good, even on the more challenging days of pregnancy.

The wraparound design is great for mums who are considering breastfeeding once baby comes, and unlike some wireless wraparound bras, the back has a traditional hook-eye fastening which offers plenty of room for manoeuvre.

On top of its fun design, we particularly enjoyed how soft this bra is; made from 95 per cent cotton and 5 per cent elastane, it’s also GOTS-certified.

Seraphine Lace Maternity & Nursing Bralette

A market leader when it comes to pregnancy and postpartum clothing, Seraphine also happens to have a great selection of maternity and nursing bras. Handily, quite a few of the bras on offer come in sets of two, but it’s the Lace Maternity & Nursing Bralette – available in black or white – that we particularly rate.

As well as looking stylish and sophisticated, the lace is soft and stretchy, and offers room for growth on the back. It also has adjustable straps to support your growing frame.

We also liked the drop cup nursing access, which enables you to breastfeed discreetly, without having to pull the whole cup down.

JoJo Maman Bebé Bravado Body Silk Seamless Maternity & Nursing Bra

Soft, comfortable, supportive – this features everything you need to look for in a maternity bra, with the added bonus that it’s also nursing-friendly thanks to two little clips on the bra straps, which can be unfastened one-handed.

Unlike some bras, you haven’t got to worry about whether they will change shape in the wash, as these wash well – ideal if you’re planning on nursing.

While you’re paying slightly more here than some models, the softness and comfortability more than makes up for it.

This design also comes in a wide range of colours including black, white, grey, brown, natural and rose.

Royce Lingerie Blossom Nursing Bra

Specialising in wire-free bras, Royce Lingerie sells a range of maternity and nursing bras, as well as breast pads and bra extenders.

The Blossom Nursing Bra, available in cup sizes CC to JJ, handily features a triple cup to accommodate fluctuating breast size throughout pregnancy and beyond.

We like that the bra can be worn in two ways, either as a crop top or gathered in the middle as a supportive bra, and it’s available in striking patterns, from leopard print to polka dot.

While there is room to grow cup-wise, the back band fits snuggly, too. Overall, it’s a great consideration if you’re looking for a bra to see you through from the first trimester to postpartum.

H&M MAMA Nursing Sports Bra

H&M’S MAMA range offers a wide range of maternity and nursing clothes, and their underwear offering is just as reliable.

Available in black or old rose, H&M’s Nursing Sports Bra is a great item to consider if you’re looking to exercise either while pregnant or after you’ve had your little one.

The lined cups are roomy and offer enough space for breast pads, and the fabric is fast-drying (handy if you’re working out, nursing, or both).

It’s comfy and supportive; so much so you may well find that you wish to wear it for longer periods, and not just to work up a sweat in.

ASOS Design Maternity Lace Padded Plunge Nursing Bra

Proving that maternity lingerie doesn’t have to be frumpy, this lacey number is a great option if you’re looking for something that’s supportive but also stylish.

With its moulded, padded cups, it creates a smooth line and offers a great amount of lift. It’s also nursing-friendly thanks to its drop-away access, which can be accessed through little clips on the straps that can be undone one-handed (particularly handy if you’re nursing a hungry little one!)

It doesn’t have the roomiest backstrap, so this is probably best kept for when your breasts are no longer fluctuating in size, or for when you’re nursing once baby has arrived.

Verdict

M&S’ Maternity Lace Trim Nursing Bras 2-pack ticks all of the boxes, particularly when it comes to comfort, style and affordability. Special mention goes to Lindex’s Soft Nursing Bra Leo Print for being one of the most eye-catching and fun maternity-friendly designs we came across.

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Best baby weaning products to help take the hassle out of weaning

s soon as you have a baby, it seems like every few weeks there’s a terrifying new stage to get your head around: getting the hang of bottle or breastfeeding, being able to put them down for naps, trying to get them to sleep through the night.

But often one of the most daunting, trickiest and – let’s face it – messiest to master is weaning.

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What is weaning?

Weaning is the term used for when you start introducing your baby to solid foods, which the NHS recommends you begin when your baby is around six months old. Ideally you should introduce your baby to a variety of foods, from fruits and vegetables to meats, grains and pulses, alongside their usual breast milk or formula. It’s worth noting that while it’s important for your little one to try lots of different foods, up until the age of one most of their nutrients will still be coming from their milk, so in the early days there’s no need to stress about how much food they’re actually putting away.

How do I know if my baby’s ready?

There is some conflicting advice about the best time to start weaning – some say you can start as early as four months, but the majority of experts now believe around the six-month mark is ideal, when your baby should be developed enough to be able to cope with solid foods. The main signs that they’re ready to wean include being able to stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady, having enough coordination to be able to pick up food and put it in their mouth, and being able to swallow food rather than just spit it back out. Once they’ve mastered those three main things, you’re good to go.

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How do I get started?

First of all, it’s good to establish what kind of weaning approach you’re going to take. The two main approaches are spoon feeding, where you feed them puréed or mashed foods from a spoon, and baby-led weaning, where you offer your baby finger foods and let them feed themselves from the start. There’s no right or wrong way, so it’s all about trying different approaches to see what works best for you and your little one. Many parents now opt for a combined approach, so that babies get a bit of both.

While it can be daunting introducing your baby to solid foods for the first time, having to navigate potential allergens and choking hazards, ultimately the goal is to make the process as fun – and delicious – as possible. Here we’ve rounded up the best items to invest in to get your weaning journey off to a flying start.

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Bamboo Bamboo Elephant Plate

When it comes to stylish weaning products that are also good for the planet, nobody does it better than Bamboo Bamboo.

The brand’s adorable animal-shaped plates have become the go-to for parents trying to make first mealtimes as entertaining as possible. Not only do they look good, they’re also brilliant to use – the super strong silicone suction bases on their plates and bowls mean they won’t budge, so it’s less likely the meal you just lovingly prepared is going to end up all over the floor, and the handy compartments are great for introducing little fingers to different tastes and textures.

Even better, all of the brand’s products are 100 per cent plastic free, making them a great alternative to the usual stacks of plastic bowls cluttering up cupboards. As the fastest-growing grass on the planet, bamboo is one of the world’s most eco-friendly materials. Add in the fact that their products are also melamine and toxic-free and you’re onto a winner. The only snag is you can’t put them in the dishwasher, but luckily they’re very easy to handwash.

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How to Wean Your Baby by Charlotte Stirling-Reed

Before writing her Sunday Times bestselling book, top nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed was best known for her popular Instagram account, @sr_nutrition, where she chronicles her personal weaning journey with her 18-month-old daughter. The account has become a go-to for parents looking for free tips and tricks about how to wean their kids, and her book takes all of that information and distils it into one handy guide.

Her vegetable-first approach attempts to tackle fussy eating before it even begins and helps children learn to develop their savoury taste buds early on – the book’s strapline says it’s all about helping your baby to “love their broccoli as much as their cake”. Designed help you through the notoriously tricky first 30 days of weaning, it’s packed full of easy-to-cook recipes that will take you well beyond those early stages, too – her creamy lemony salmon bake is a firm favourite in our household, as is her nutty French toast.

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Bibetta Wipeezee Bib with Sleeves

One of the first things you’ll want to buy is a heavy-duty bib that will get you through all the accompanying thrills and spills (weaning is an unavoidably messy process). The ones from Bibetta do just that, whether you go for one of their neoprene styles, which come in a range of different eye-catching designs, or choose something from their new wipe-clean Wipeezee range, which is our pick of the bunch.

All of their bibs come with a special flip-out pocket, which is designed to catch any dropped bits of food. There are sleeveless options as well as coverall ones that go over the tray of the high chair for ultimate cleanliness; we’d definitely recommend going for a style with sleeves to maximise coverage (and when your child is older, these can also double up as cover-ups for messy play).

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Doddl Baby Starter Cutlery Set and Case

Choosing the right sort of cutlery to start the weaning process with can be tricky, as you want something you can feed your baby with and also something that they’ll be able to use themselves as soon as they show signs of wanting to. Doddl’s innovative sets are recommended by experts and have been designed to build up their skills and confidence. The ergonomically designed fork and spoon in their Starter Set – recommended for six months plus – come with short, compact handles that are easy for babies to hold and also reduce the gag reflex more than longer utensils. The set also comes with a handy carry case for mealtimes on-the-go.

Once you’re ready to move to the next stage, their Children’s Spoon, Fork and Knife Set (recommended from ages one – five years) is also brilliant. Cleverly designed to help babies from 12 months old develop their pincer grip, dexterity and coordination through self-feeding, they’re a game-changer when it comes to getting little ones to successfully be able to feed themselves.

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Annabel Karmel New Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner

Baby and toddler food expert Annabel Karmel is the grand dame when it comes to weaning, and to celebrate the 30 th anniversary of her phenomenally successful weaning bible – which has sold over five million copies worldwide and been translated into more than 25 languages ­– she’s recently re-released an updated version of the book, with new recipes and the latest nutritional advice and guidance.

There’s a useful pull-out guide to step-by-step weaning, which tells you everything you need to know before getting started, as well as over 200 recipes which take you from first tastes and purées all the way through to toddler favourites. We particularly love her age and stage appropriate meal planners, which help take the guesswork out of when and what to feed your baby or toddler.

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Bickiepegs Doidy Cup

Around the same time as you start weaning, you’ll also start to introduce your little one to drinking from a cup, offering them sips of water during meal times (note that as long as your baby is over six months it’s fine for them to drink tap water – before then they’ll need to drink cooled boiled water). There are many different cups to choose from, but if possible, it’s best to start teaching them to drink out of an open cup first, as this will help them learn to sip and is also the best option for their teeth. The cleverly designed Doidy cup is one of the best starter options out there.

The uniquely slanted shape has been designed to help them learn how to drink from a rim, rather than a spout or teated bottle, and the easy-grip handles help them with learning how to pick the cup up and put it down correctly. Alongside their cups, the brand has also recently launched a slanted weaning bowl, which makes it easier for babies to scoop food onto their spoon.

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Casey and Cole Silicone Snack Cup

Once your little one has mastered the basic principles of eating and feeding themselves and is starting to say their first words, we can guarantee one of the earliest ones they’ll master is “snack”. They will then proceed to shout it at the top of their lungs at any given opportunity: while out in the pram, at a playgroup or in the car. Which is why it is vitally important that you should have an array of snacks available for them to eat at all times.

This collapsible silicone snack cup is a godsend for when you’re on the move. For some inexplicable reason, snacks designed for babies and toddlers usually make more crumbs than any other food – pop them in this snack cup and they can tip it upside down or shake it like a maraca and the snacks will stay firmly put.

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Liewood Nathan Junior Dining Set

It’s likely you’ve already spotted Liewood’s pastel-coloured dining sets on Instagram. The Danish brand has become a favourite with parents looking to emulate their Scandi-cool aesthetic both in their nurseries and at mealtimes.

The brand’s convenient dining sets are a great starter kit for anyone embarking on their weaning journey. Made from ultra-durable silicone, they’re lightweight and easy for meals on the move, and afterwards you can just bung them in the dishwasher.

Alongside their dining sets they also sell all manner of chic mealtime accessories, from wipe clean placemats and bibs to mini ice pop moulds (brilliant for teething bubbas) and cute animal-shaped snacks bowls. A welcome antidote to the garish colours and in-your-face designs so often associated with kids’ brands.

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Pickle and Squash Recipes Boxes

When you first start weaning you’ll begin with simple single tastes, but pretty soon your little one will be ready to move onto more complicated flavours and combinations. In an ideal world, they’d eat whatever you’re eating at the same time as you, both to learn (this way they get to copy what you’re doing and feel involved), and from a practicality standpoint, as it saves you cooking more than one meal. Finding recipes that work for all the family can be tough, though – especially when it comes to the salt content – but the clever meal boxes from Pickle & Squash have got it covered.

Founded by two mums during lockdown, the family recipe boxes are suitable for weaning babies from seven months and come with detailed guides for how to serve each dish to any member of the family, whether you’re blitzing up your portion of Moroccan lamb tagine for the littlest member or adding an extra spicy kick for the adults. The recipes are just the right side of adventurous – smoky bean enchiladas one night, tofu katsu curry the next – and help to encourage curious mini foodies.

£45 every two weeks.

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Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup

While open cups are all well and good at meal times at home, they’re not ideal when you’re out and about. That’s where the Miracle 360 Trainer Cup comes in. This dentist-recommended design allows babies and toddlers to drink from any side of the cup, which helps support normal muscle development in their mouth. All they have to do is tilt the cup and suck on the valve’s edge to get the water out.

The ‘miracle’ part comes in when they stop drinking, as the cup automatically seals itself, meaning there are no unwanted spills. The handles make it easier to hold and drink from, and the fact that there are no extra valves or spouts make it a cinch to clean. The only thing to bear in mind is that your little one might take a few tries to master the technique of drinking from it – persevere, though, as it’s worth it.

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Lune & Wild Weaning Packs

If you’d rather outsource your weaning journey, Lune & Wild is the place to go. Their plant-rich meals come in several different options, including frozen cubes of purée for babies, toddler meal pots and seasonal meals designed for children from four years old.

Their weaning offering comes in three different stages: stage one is for babies trying out their first tastes, with smooth organic vegetable purées of ingredients like broccoli, cauliflower and carrot; stage two’s cubes are purées of mixed flavours, like parsnip and chickpea tagine and kale and sweet potato satay, which will introduce your baby to over 50 different ingredients; and stage three features a chunkier, less blended texture, ideal for babies aged nine months and up. While it’s not the cheapest option, having ready-made purées that you can just grab out of the freezer at a moments’ notice is brilliant when you simply don’t have the time to whizz something up in the blender.

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EasyTots EasyMat Mini

This product has won every parenting award under the sun, and with good reason – it’s absolutely brilliant for feeding hungry babies on-the-go, as well as at home. Made from 100 per cent silicone, this is a portable suction plate and lunch box in one, with compartments to keep food separate and a wipe-clean bag to stash it in to make sure there are no leaks.

The folding sides mean it’s the perfect size and shape to fit into a handbag, while the suction grip will stick fast to most surfaces, including glass, wood and plastic (though bear in mind it doesn’t stick as well on the kind of matte plastic you find on the Stokke Trip Trap high chair). We’ve used it everywhere from train compartments to pubs, and have never once ended up with a meal on the floor.

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Mamamade Finger Foods Bundle

Specialising in organic, plant-based meals for weaning parents, Mamamade has loads of different meal options to choose from, from purées and porridges to hearty veg-packed dinners, but it’s their snack options that are the real winner for us. Finding healthy snack options that work while out and about without just resorting to a bag of cheese-flavoured puffs can be hard, but a stash of Mamamade’s treats always go down well.

Their pancakes, made with ingredients like beetroot, apple and mango, are a particular favourite, but their savoury snacks are a hit too. Older babies will happily gobble down lentil veggie bits in place of biscuits, and their red pepper polenta fingers are a great side addition at meal times.

£33 for 12 meals.

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Rex London Snack Boxes

This London-based brand is always a first port of call for quirky, beautifully designed presents, and their kids’ lunch time range is just as delightful as their other products.

We particularly love their snack box sets, which come in a range of different colourful patterns, from jungle animals to wild flowers and fairies. Each set features three different sizes of box, so you can safely stash a variety of different snacks for when you’re out and about.

We also love their foil-insulated lunch bags, which are made from recycled plastics and fold up into a tiny scrap for easy storage. They’ll keep your weaning purées, bottles of milk and snacks cool and fresh – perfect for picnics and days out – and with their similarly bold designs, they’re a brilliant way to keep meals fun for little ones.

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Verdict

When it comes to weaning in serious style, Bamboo Bamboo is our pick of the bunch. Their products look great, are loved by babies and bigger kids alike (just wait until your toddler starts demanding their favourite design at meal times) and are kinder to the planet, too. As for demystifying the whole process, Charlotte Stirling-Reed’s book How to Wean your Baby will get you through that tough first month and beyond.

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