Hey there, fellow parents and baby-led weaning enthusiasts! As a mom of two little ones, who have embarked on the exciting journey of baby-led weaning (BLW), I know first-hand the importance of finding the perfect bibs to accompany this messy adventure.
From the very first bib to the toddler-ready champions, I’ve explored a wide range of options to protect those adorable outfits and make mealtime a breeze. With the ease of use and easy cleanup in mind, I’ve discovered some real gems that are perfect for handling finger foods, accommodating different sizes, and withstanding the exploration of new flavors and textures.
From silicone pocket bibs to the best long-sleeved bibs, I’ve got you covered from the kitchen sink to the high chair!
🚨Parent-to-Parent: Stick around to see which bib I absolutely DO NOT recommend for BLW.
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Baby-Led Weaning Vs. Baby Food Purees
The gist: Purees are foods that are blended until they are a smooth and creamy texture. BLW is giving babies foods intact–of course with safety measures to prevent choking–and letting them explore the foods in a more hands-on way.
Baby-led weaning also includes the introduction of water in small amounts (4-8oz to start). Here you can find my recommendations for the best blw cups and which sippy cups to avoid.
Not sure if you’re going to go the baby-led weaning route or the pureed foods route? Read my article, where I go in-depth on baby purees, eating readiness, recipes, and more.
You can also check out Solid Starts, which is a website, app, and social media mecca of BLW information.
Just know that you don’t have to do all or nothing. I personally did a mix of purees and BLW, and both of my kids are great eaters (ok, so one kid only eats carbs, but he eats a wide variety of them 🤣).
Pro Tip: You’re going to want to steer clear of bandana bibs (also known as dribble bibs) that are just to protect the neck and chin from drool rash for infants. You also don’t want cloth bibs for BLW because they aren’t waterproof. By the end of the meal, your little one will be soaked.
Best Bibs for BLW
Although this makes the purpose of my article pretty redundant, my personal opinion is that the best bibs for BLW are no bibs at all. That’s right folks, your baby’s birthday suit is the best thing to wear at the table when BLW is involved.
That being said, it’s not always practical or possible to strip your little one down to their diapies, and we want to protect those adorable little outfits at all costs.
I should also add a little disclaimer that no matter which bibs you choose, no matter how much planning you put into it, BLW is messy play and just as much food is going to make it onto your baby, their clothes, the wall, and the dog, as your baby’s mouth.
So without further ado, here’s my list of the best baby-led weaning bibs.
Pro Tip: You might also want to have different bibs for different types of meals. If I know we’re having spaghetti, I’m going long sleeves, pocket, waterproof, the works. But if he’s just munching on some toast, I’ll use a simple sleeveless bib.
Long-sleeved bibs are the gold standard when it comes to the best bibs for BLW. These are my favorite baby-led weaning bibs and my number one recommendation to parents 🏆.
I have had this same set from PandaEar for almost 3 years (through 2 kids) and they have held up perfectly through hundreds of washes. Even the adjustable velcro closure is still intact.
These are great bibs with soft fabric and the cutest designs that are a popular choice for boys and girls. They have elastic cuffs for little hands to fit through, a deep pocket to catch crumbs, and a unique design to offer full coverage protection even from the messiest solid foods. They are small and easy to stash in the diaper bag. I would buy this set over and over again.
Parent-to-Parent: While some swear by silicone bibs for their easy clean-up, as a time-strapped parent, hand-washing them along with other items becomes a chore. Consider if machine-washable convenience outweighs the smooth-surfaced silicone bibs.
Silicone bibs like this PandaEar set from Amazon are a go-to for parents who want to be able to wash and dry their bibs in an instant.
You can wash them right in the sink and dry them with a hand towel. No waiting around for the washing machine to finish.
These thin, soft silicone bibs are pliable and gentle on the baby’s skin. They have an adjustable closure that is also tug-proof if you have a little Hercules like I do 💪.
One of the knocks on silicone bibs is that they are bulky and difficult to travel with. Tommee Tippee has a silicone bib that is BPA-free and made of food-grade silicone, yet thin enough with a special design to easily roll up for traveling. If you’re looking for more BLW traveling tips, read my next article here!
If you’re looking for toddler bibs that are a little bigger and sturdier you could go with the Happy Healthy Parent Silicone Bib. They have a similar design to other silicone baby bibs but off a little more surface area. They are made for easy cleaning and can be wiped clean, or washed in the sink for bigger messes.
Front Pocket Bibs
I like the Bumkins Bibs. They are waterproof bibs with pockets to help catch crumbs (much to my dog’s despair). They are super simple and are great for younger babies as well as older babies.
The loop closure goes around the baby’s neck. The waterproof material keeps your baby’s clothes clean(ish) and dry(ish). They are machine washable, so cleanup is pretty easy: toss the big chunks in the trash and pop them in the wash.
Bapron bibs are just like how they sound– a cross between a bib and an apron. They aren’t long-sleeved, but they are full-coverage bibs that even cover the shoulders. They are pretty long and designed to bowl up in your child’s lap. So while they don’t have a pocket, their lap will be covered by the bapron. Since they are long they can also be a great option for crafts and sensory play.
Alternative Solutions for BLW Messes
If the BLW bib just isn’t cutting it and you’re still finding food all over your kid and your floor, there are a few practical solutions out there to take some of the mess out of meal times.
Drop Cloth AKA Splat Mat
Just as it sounds: a baby drop cloth (or splat mat) goes under the high chair. It can be picked up and tossed in the washing machine at the end of each day for easy cleaning. Make sure to look for a waterproof fabric, especially if you’re going to keep it down all day or for a few days at a time. A cloth or mat that isn’t waterproof could cause water damage to your floors if too much moisture got trapped under the high chair.
I like the Bumkins Baby Splat mat (mostly because it fits my house aesthetic) but there are lots on the market.
Under High Chair Food Catcher
Looking to catch the food before it can even fall to the floor? These splat mats from Mumma’s Little Helpers attach right to the high chair to keep the mess up off the ground.
I’m pretty sure I could have saved my dog a few bathes and a few pounds had I known about these 🤔. The nice thing is the mess is contained and somewhat out of sight, so you could theoretically only have to wash this every few days.
The Grabease all over bib literally covers “all over.” It is like a poncho that goes over your little one’s head and arms and also completely covers the high chair tray and seat back. The stretchy design makes it one size fits all kids and high chairs.
I think a Grabease-type bib is a great piece of baby gear to have and a different bib to take to a restaurant, someone’s house, or use when you really don’t want the baby or chair getting dirty.
Parent-to-Parent: I’m not sure if something like this is necessary for all BLW meals, BUT I could have *definitely* used this when I went to my sister’s house and my little one got red pasta sauce all over her brand new white chair cushion (despite my best efforts🤢).
🚨Tidy Tot All-in-One
This only made the list for me to tell you *not* to buy it. Seriously. This “award-winning” bib is a nightmare from a BTDT (been there done that) BLW mom.
The bib has a large tray attached to it that suctions to your removable tray on the high chair with suction cups.
Here are all of the problems with this bib:
- The cost. You are going to need a MINIMUM of 5 bibs for your baby if you’re doing BLW (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks). The price of this is seriously cost-prohibitive.
- Getting it off. I watched the video. The parent has to unstrap the bib but leave it attached to the tray and try to lift the baby out of the seat. Mmm mmm. This isn’t happening at my house. I see my sneaky 15-month-old grabbing a fist full of spaghetti on his way out and launching it all over me and the dog.
- Washing it. The tray is HAND WASH 😡(I’m actually getting fired up as I write this). So you’ve effectively doubled or tripled the amount of cleaning I am going to have to do by hand. Nope. Hard pass.
I’m really not a negative person, so I have to try and see things with a glass half full. I *guess* this would be a really great tool for extending the high chair for things like crafts and sensory play. Once my toddler got a little older, trying to do crafts in the high chair was a complete failure. He would throw things off the edge as a game, and the tray itself was too small.
Ok, Tidy Tot, you got me. This bib is great to use for anything but eating.
Considerations for High Chairs
If you’re going to do BLW, or even considering it, do yourself a favor and get a high chair that is entirely plastic. I mean a chair that has no fabric, no padding, and as few crevices as possible.
When I did my baby registry, I went for the comfiest-looking chair that could “grow” with my child. What I didn’t know, was all of the features that *sounded* great, were actually horrible when it comes to cleaning out food.
With my second child, I got smart and kicked my high chair to the curb. I came across this booster seat that had so many features all while being plastic. I also bought a few additional tray covers (that are dishwasher safe), so I don’t feel like I’m spending my days cleaning high chair trays.
This thing is awesome. Every few days I take it outside, hose it down, and it’s good as new!
Pro-Tip: When they get a little bit older you can just get a washable booster cushion (like this one) for your table, it’s easier to clean and encourages them to make less of a mess eating at the “grown-up” table.
And there you have it, my fellow messy mealtime warriors! Whether you opt for pocket bibs like Bumkins, the convenience of silicone bibs from PandaEar, or the full-coverage protection of long-sleeve bibs, there’s a bib out there to suit your needs.
Oh, and please, for the love of spaghetti, stay away from bandana bibs and cloth bibs that aren’t waterproof. They won’t stand a chance against the BLW mess.
If you’re looking for even more mess-containment options, consider investing in a splat mat. But hey, no matter how prepared we are, BLW is bound to be a food-fueled whirlwind that tests our cleaning skills and patience. So, take a deep breath, embrace the chaos, and enjoy the messy memories being made!