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Messy Mealtimes - 10 Tips For Mess-Free Weaning

Messy Mealtimes - 10 Tips For Stress-Free Weaning

Image Credit: hui sang

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Are you tired of all the mess that goes with feeding your baby, with weaning or feeding your toddler?

Does your baby throw the bowl or food every mealtime? Do they try to grab the spoon, catapulting food across the room?

When you have kids, messy mealtimes are going to be a fact of life. So here are ten tips to help minimize the mess created at meal times.

However first of all, do consider this; every kid makes a mess while they are learning to eat.  Eating and feeding yourself is a skill every human being has to learn, just like walking and talking. So it is perfectly normal for a child to make a mess at this stage in their life.

10 Tips For Mess-Free Weaning

Embrace the mess!

Every mealtime your child is improving their coordination while they are learning to manoeuvre their spoon and fork.  There are going to be spills.  Yes, it may be frustrating but it is one of the many ways that your child learns how the world works.

Seriously.  Giving a kid a cupcake that big is just asking for trouble.

Image Credit: Chris Benson

Tips For Messy Mealtimes

Ten tips for mess-free, stress-free meals with kids.

  1. Spread an easily washable cover  on the floor beneath your child's high chair. It may be possible to use a plastic sheet, a washable rug or splash mats intended for putting under high chairs.  I used a length of oilcloth, (the sort that is used to make table coverings) which I bought from a local fabric shop. Just shake off or wipe off the food at the end of the meal.
  2. Try a coverall bib. You can buy great plastic bibs with sleeves that give your child ultimate coverage during feeding time. Or if it is warm enough take their top off completely.
  3. If you are spoon feeding and your baby wants to grab the spoon, only to splatter food all over the wall, try giving him an empty spoon to play with while you feed him with another spoon. This gives baby a sense of control over the feeding process, or at least it works by distracting them!
  4. One of the greatest inventions for weaning is a baby bowl with a suction pad on the bottom, to prevent the bowl slipping, accidently knocked off or being thrown. If possible, check the suction prior to purchase. Babies and toddlers have surprising strength and can often loosen the suction on some cheaper bowls.
  5. If your baby has a tendency to throw food, only give them small amounts of food at a time. Add more food to the bowl as they finish each portion. They are less likely to waste a limited food supply, and at least you can limit the amount that ends up decorating the room.
  6. Baby in a highchair

    Image Credit: Stephen Andrews

  7. If you don’t use a coverall bib, roll up your baby's sleeves to prevent them dangling in their dish or being wiped across the tray of the highchair.
  8. Of course you should always remember to praise your child when they do eat nicely and do not throw food. Reinforcing good behaviour is always more effective than punishing bad behaviour.
  9. Never force feed your child. Babies and toddlers all go through growth spurts from time to time, which tells their body when they need more or less food. Forcing a baby to eat more than they need could result in poor eating habits and overeating in the future.
  10. As most paint that is used in the home nowadays is water based, you may want to choose a washable paint that is designed to be washed frequently. There are many types on the market, and this could be a good investment if your little one appears to be showing a talent for throwing.
  11. If crumbs are your main food mess problem, invest in a hand vacuum cleaner. They are a lifesaver for a quick clean up after mealtimes.

While your child is learning to feed themselves, be patient. You can't prevent all messes, and reacting in frustration or anger will make mealtimes stressful for you, your baby and the rest of the family too.

In a very short time your baby will be able to eat by themselves, and will be far more interested in gobbling down dinner than wasting it by throwing it around.

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