8 Ways to Handle the Mess When Babies Start Self Feeding
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
We know that exploring foods with all he senses AKA food play at the table is part of development - it’s necessary to develop self-feeders. But the mess though?!
Here are 8 ways to save your sanity while cleaning up after your little one who is climbing the learning curve from flinging to spooning and everything in between.
In a recent social media poll, a family dog is a parent's best friend when it comes to post-meal clean up!
1. Serve small portions
Some days babies are more hungry than others. Serving a smaller portion will mean on those days they are less hungry, less of it will remain on the floor. Plus it helps manage parents expectations of how much needs to be eaten. More about that in another post.
2. Protect your table surface with a piece of tempered glass
If babies are ready to self feed, they are ready to be at the table with you. Getting a piece of glass to cover their end at the table will be easier to wipe, creates better suction for feeding mats, and protects your table so you can eat alongside baby without constantly wiping up the mess. Side note, while the occasional wipe is sometimes needed during meals, constantly cleaning the space and the kiddo is distracting for all disrupts the natural flow of a family meal.
3. Invest in one or two suction plates or bowls
Once you have a good surface, suction plates and bowls stay in place so little fingers can push up against the side of the plate or bowl to pick up the food. They are pricey but you will use the same one for months. We used the same plate for a year and it still works great.
4. Double bib, do it
Choosing the right bib for the job may mean some trial and error. One thing is for sure, using a material bib underneath a silicone one ruled my world. The material bib absorbed liquids while the silicone one caught the bigger pieces.
4. Offer shapes and sizes that are developmentally appropriate
Pincer grasps does not develop until ~9 months and using a tool like a spoon takes months of practise. Offering small pieces of food will be frustrating for baby and messy for parents. Coming soon will be a guide of soft foods a self feeder beginner. A shorter spoon can help too. Imagine trying to feed yourself with a salad spoon?
5. Be at peace with the mess
Babies love gasps, shrieks and loud sighs because you are paying attention to them. At the table it will only add attention to the act of making a mess. With some time, toddlers (hint, this takes time) will start to role model that other people at the table are not finger painting with their food and start to adapt new table manners. Until then, take a zen breath and munch away.
6. Table supplies
Having a warm bowl of water and a cleaning cloth at the table helps to quickly wipe during a meal and makes for less running back to the sink after a meal. After the meal, babies can dunk their messy little hands in the bowl as part of the clean up routine. After the initial wipe, a spray bottle of cleaning vinegar at the table will help provide some disinfection and a streak- free clean without chemicals.
7. Now for the floor under the high chair
Cover carpet with a mat, floor bib computer mat or even an old table or yoga mat you can shake and wipe. For flat surfaces like tike or hardwood, a broom and a wet mop is a must. You can use the cleaning vinegar here too.
8. A wipeable high chair
High chairs with less cushions and materials are ideal for easy wiping with a cleaning cloth and a few sprays of the cleaning vinegar.