Thursday, April 12, 2012

mealtimes, redux

I wrote about our attempts at a hybrid of Montessori-style solid foods and baby-led weaning a while ago.  We just ate lunch a few minutes ago, and I thought to myself, "I should give an update on how this process is going!"  So, let's revisit. 

When I wrote before, we were doing a combination of me spoon-feeding Vicki Jo and her practicing feeding herself with a utensil.  A month or so after that post, she started refusing to be fed anymore.  She wanted and was ready for small chunks of soft food.  So, the decision was made for me.  She would do it independently. 

My brother and sister-in-law got us a great picnic set for Vicki Jo for Christmas, so we've been using that.  That veers away from the Montessori philosophy.  It is plastic and brightly colored.  Vicki actually doesn't have much of a habit of throwing her plate or bowl, but I use them because they are more her size.  Also, we have been using a stainless steel drinking bottle (also a present, from her friend Olive) with a spout to avoid spills from her cup.  When it was just water, I didn't care as much, but now that she drinks milk at meals, I don't want to waste!  We still practice drinking water out of a glass.

We almost always eat together.  I try to model appropriate behaviors at mealtime:  eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, not speaking with my mouth full, not watching tv or checking my phone.  We usually have a little conversation to practice our grace and courtesy.

I have noticed something interesting.  When we sit together and eat, she will usually pick at her food.  She eats some, but also pushes it around and plays a bit.  When I get up, though, to take dishes into the kitchen, or to fold laundry, or to sweep the floor, she gets very serious about eating and finishes her plate.  I have no idea why.

She does have some very clear signs that she's done:

Feeding the dog what is left on her plate:

And turning herself completely around in her chair.  In my mind, there is nothing that says "I'm finished!" more than turning your back on your food!

We never did get the weaning table and chair.  I still might buy one, since she's quite small for her age and could use it for many more months as an activity center.  I'm working with an old friend who is an artisan carpenter to handcraft some Montessori furniture for Vicki Jo.  Stay tuned for that! 

I can't help but think how much our next child will benefit from all the learning that I've done as Vicki has grown.  Not just in terms of Montessori, or feeding, or furniture.  In every way, she has taught me so much!

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