Raising kids is hard enough at the best of times, and there are always a hundred and one ways of doing things. What one mum will call the ‘right’ way, another mum would be horrified at, and that can be really hard, especially if you’re a first-time mum. I loved watching my babies learn how to be independent at mealtimes. They were both eating Petit Filous by 5 months… oh and eating juicy pears was always fun. I started weaning at 17 weeks.
One of the biggest differences in the way families raise their kids is mealtimes. Some parents are happy to have a TV on, and others eat on the sofa, some eat different food from each other, and, for some families, mealtime is the one time that the whole family get together and enjoy time together.
Make Mealtimes Great
Something that many parents agree on is the need for independence, especially at mealtimes. Toddlers, kids, and even babies who are exposed to all kinds of different foods from an early age are less likely to be fussy eaters later on.
While all kids will go through the fussy stage, this can be minimised by making mealtimes a less stressful time for kids. Whether you’re going for a baby led weaning approach or a more traditional spoon-fed approach, making mealtimes enjoyable and above all ‘normal’ for kids is a much better approach, and independence is a big part of that.
Here are four tips for encouraging independence at your dinner table, wherever that may be.
Create A Good Environment
Parents who follow a Montessori path will be used to the idea of making their child’s environment beautiful, but this concept may not be as prevalent for parents who aren’t familiar with Maria Montessori’s work. However, the core value of a beautiful environment means less stimulation for young minds, helping them concentrate on their food rather than the stimulation everywhere else.
Look at everything from how your eating area is set up to how your child looks and how the food looks during mealtime. Comfortable clothing, like the dribble bibs, is comfortable and beautiful, helping babies enjoy mealtimes more.
Let Kids Explore
Babies especially explore food with their hands, eyes, nose, and their tongues. This is why it’s really important to allow younger kids to explore and feel their way with their food, even if it’s likely to make a mess. However, with help from brands such as Bibado, you don’t have to worry too much about clearing up a lot of mess.
Give Them Breakables
This tip is definitely a bit controversial for some parents, but giving kids breakable items can be a great way to boost their confidence in handling eating apparatus.
Letting your kids use breakable things whilst supervised will teach them that you trust them and help them to understand that they need to respect breakable things in the house.
Let Them Help
We touched on this earlier, but fostering independence at mealtime means allowing kids to explore. One of the best ways to do this is to let them help with mealtime preparations.
There are lots of kid-sized kitchen utensils made for kitchens, and a learning tower can be a great way to help kids feel involved in the kitchen.