Starting on solid foods is a big milestone for your baby. He gets to try different flavors and textures and learn how to use utensils as adults do. Soon, he'll be sharing meals with you on the dining table. But how do you introduce solids to your baby?
Recently, travel blogger and celebrity mom Paula Peralejo-Fernandez shared on Instagram how she's using the baby-led weaning (BLW) technique to introduce solid foods to her son Pablo. She combined it with another technique called Montessori Weaning. The two approaches do go hand in hand -- they’re both child-focused strategies to help babies learn to eat like adults.
In BLW, the child gets to feed himself using his hands, and he learns how to chew properly. In Montessori weaning, you give your baby a space of his own as he transitions from milk to solid foods.
"Children are encouraged to experience the world at their own level, rather than be asked to conform to an adult’s," writes mom-of-two Amy of Midwest Montessori. It involves preparing a dining environment tailored to the child -- his small table and chair, utensils, cups, and placemat, so he can explore and learn the dining experience on their own and at their own pace."
Nicole, the mom of three behind The Kavanaugh Report, says Montessori weaning promotes independence. It's more comfortable for your child since everything is in his size. It also provides opportunities to teach proper table manners and responsibility.
Here’s what you’ll need:
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1. Choose a spot for your baby's weaning table. According to At Home With Montessori, consider proximity to the kitchen, water source, washable floor cover (it's going to be messy at first, for sure!). Remember, this little dining area can also work as his "work" table.
2. Find a weaning table and chair. The table and chair should be designed for babies who are starting to crawl and walk. Make sure it's low to the ground and stable enough so your tot can take a seat unassisted when it's time to eat, and stand up and leave the table on his own when he's done eating.
3. Get plates, bowls, utensils, glasses, and a pitcher. Choose child-sized dining ware that resembles dinner ware that your child sees you use. As much as possible, use ones made of natural materials like glass, porcelain, or pottery. Yes, these items can break, but it's part of the Montessori way for kids to learn.
"Breakages are an important learning opportunity, and because plastic is more likely to be abused since you won’t care as much. Ceramic plates and bowls allow a wonderful opportunity for your child to learn gentleness and care," Amy explained. Just remember always to handle accidents calmly and matter-of-factly.
Choose clear small serving bowls so you baby can see how the food looks like before he scoops it up and puts it in his mouth. Shot glasses are perfect as your tot's drinking cup while minimizing spills. Make sure your toddler can easily grasp these things with their tiny hands. You can adjust the sizes of his dinnerware when he’s developmentally ready for, say, a larger glass.
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4. Have a Montessori Placemat. It’s a simple place mat that indicates where the plate, spoon, fork, and glass should be placed on the table. It will help your child know where to put things when she’s developmentally-ready to learn how to set the table before meals.
5. Bibs, napkins, wash cloths, sponges. The bib and eventually the napkin should be easy for your toddler to put on and remove before and after meals. Like setting the table, you can also teach your child to clean up after eating. These are practical skills your child needs to learn for doings chores as they grow up.
Remember to take the cues from your child and don’t force weaning when he’s not yet ready. Guide your child, but try to stop yourself from taking over his child’s weaning table. You want him to discover on his own how to dine and eat as adults do.
"Children are encouraged to experience the world at their own level, rather than be asked to conform to an adult’s," writes mom-of-two Amy of Midwest Montessori. It involves preparing a dining environment tailored to the child -- his own small table and chair, utensils, cups, and placemat, so he can explore an learn the dining experience on their own and at their own pace.