Despite being pretty convinced before we got there that I'd be embracing the world of purees, Arthur's explorations of food beyond breast milk have ended up being very much baby-led. And we've loved it! I've loved watching the expression on his face change as he tentatively brings new tastes to his mouth, I've loved the delight he's taken in a variety of textures as he squidges food through his fingers, I've loved how his dexterity has slowly improved so he can now pick up even single grains of rice, I've loved having him as a companion at the dinner table with his giggles and expanding conversation. But what I haven't loved is the mess.
I was ready for the carpet of discarded morsels on the floor, for the smears of carefully smushed food on anything he could get his hands on, but (perhaps naively) I hadn't quite anticipated the effect on his hair. Arthur has a lot of hair, beautiful hair, and there is nothing he loves more at the end of a good meal (and at various points during it) than running his fingers through that hair. Cute, but oh my gosh so messy.
We tried various headbands, but all the ones that fitted were invariably and unmistakably made for baby girls. I'm all up for avoiding gender stereotyping, but as the collection of photos grew and our friends and family raised a huge collective eyebrow I decided we maybe needed to find another solution. And so baby-led weaning ears were born.
I started back in the craft burst of December, creating bear ears, mouse ears and fox ears from old pairs of tights and scraps of felt.
They came out rather well, and certainly did the job of keeping the hair well away from offending foodstuffs. So much so that I've decided to add to the collection, beginning with a pair of dragon ears that I will talk you through here.
First, amass your materials. These ears are brilliant for using up bits you might have lying around, just taking a bit of creativity to fit what you find to an appropriate creature. For the dragon I used a palette of green and yellow. You'll need part of a pair of old tights, two colours of felt, and thread to match.
The first step in the actual making is to create the band itself. I tend to loosely test this on myself first, cutting a section of tights that fits snugly on my head so it will have a bit of give for Arthur. Then you simply need to sew a line along the two cut edges, turning the band inside out ready for the next stage. I use a back stitch for this which seems to hold, but feel free to bring your own sewing expertise to the details!
Before you go any further you might want to just check the headband fits your little darling. As you can see Arthur was thrilled to have me interrupt his play time to test this out.
Next it's time to start work on the ears themselves. You'll need four larger pieces for the main part of the ears, leaving an extra bit of felt at the base of the ear shape for attaching to the headband. These pieces should all be pretty much identical - I drew the first one freehand with tailor's chalk then used it as a template for the others but a paper template would work well too. You'll also need two matching 'inner ears' in an appropriate colour.
Before you begin attaching the ears I'd sew the inner ears on to their base like so
I played around with the stitching a bit with these ones to give the ears a more three dimensional quality, but the other ones worked out fine just staying flat.
And that's it! The finished ears will go through the washing machine on a 30 degree cycle, though I haven't tested them in the drier yet. Their potential is of course not restricted to the dinner table - after chatting to a mummy friend over coffee yesterday I'm thinking that tails might be the next step to take them to a whole other level...