My Favorite Bib for My Baby Isn't Really a Bib at All
It’s a work of art.
Feeding a baby is a messy affair. In fact, once you realize just how messy it is to feed a baby, the dainty neck hanky that we all know as a bib starts to feel less like protection and more like a practical joke played on all new parents.
See, babies have no hand-eye coordination and no innate need to be tidy as they eat. Most bites miss the mouth — usually by a lot — so food, be it puree, yogurt or mashy bits of fruit, ends up everywhere. And no little swoop of terrycloth can cover a radius of everywhere.
In my first few weeks of feeding my now-one-year-old son solids, I scrubbed food out of t-shirts, onesies, pajamas, and his unruly curls, eyelashes, neck and rubber-band-wrist rolls. The night he fell in love with roasted beets, we joked that he was auditioning for a crime show. After more than a few outfits came out of the wash permanently stained — and bibs so marred, they were dishonorably discharged and relegated to the rag heap — I even toyed with stripping him to his diaper for meals, so that I could just hose him down afterward.
Eager for a better option, I popped into my favorite neighborhood toy store for advice. They didn’t stock bibs, but said they had an art smock I could try. Priced lower than an iced latte, I decided it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot.
Made by Crayola, the reusable smock has a Velcro collar and long sleeves with elastic wrists. It covers his entire outfit, and allows him to learn to feed himself without my hovering in an attempt to contain the madness, whether he’s trying gluey oatmeal, vividly colored berries or greasy meatballs. As he explores textures and flavors, he’ll spit things out, smear bites, drop spoonfuls onto his lap, and it's all fine by me — the smock protects him from everything. Now, I think nothing of handing him the most messy foods like a juicy peach, for example.
When his first birthday rolled around, I plopped his vividly colored smash cake down on a mat, tugged on the smock and let him go to town, smiling beneath a shellacking of buttercream. Since the smock boldly says “My First” in big, bright lettering, it even felt perfectly themed for the occasion.
After he'd devoured his cake, I ran the smock under the faucet and watched the food coloring run off. It was dry and ready by dinner. No baby hose-down required. And that is a work of art.