Does Weaning have to be so Messy?
With thanks to Tidy Tot
The brand claiming to be the salvation to messy weaning, Tidy Tot, with their ingenious bib solutions, tells us why weaning should be messy and how we can embrace it and yet still keep our sanity!
When weaning starts around six months, many of us have an expectation that our babies will just know what to do when it comes to eating. After all, they’ve eagerly watched us do it for the past few months and will no doubt be mimicking our actions. The fact is that whilst it’s the most natural of instincts, learning to eat is one of the hardest things to do. In fact, there are eight different senses that your baby has to integrate and coordinate in the correct way in order to eat. At Tidy Tot, it is important to us to understand exactly how babies learn to eat and we explored this and more with weaning expert, The Children’s Nutritionist, as part of our Sensory Weaning guide. We discovered that a large part of the weaning process involves letting little ones get stuck in and getting messy – hands, face…even feet! Letting your little one get stuck in means letting them feel the squelch, the scrunch the rough and the smooth, exploring every aspect of what makes food so delicious and exciting using all of their senses. Ultimately, making them happy little eaters. All this sensory exposure stimulates your baby’s brain, forming neural connections from one area to another. This leads to your little one learning new skills and behaviours.
Clearly encouraging all this messy behaviour, parents will need a good do-it-all bib to keep clothes, highchairs and floors clean, that’s where Tidy Tot’s range of bibs comes in to minimise the clean-up operation afterwards!
Weaning – maximum mess on the messy food scale!
A big part of weaning is introducing a range of different foods with different textures so your baby’s journey of food discovery can start. Aim for varying levels of mess on what we like to call the Tidy Tot messy food scale! Green for ‘all-the-mess’, amber for ‘mostly messy’ and red for ‘less mess’, all in the name of having some messy weaning fun!
Top tip: If you’re introducing a new food, put it alongside a food they’ve already liked and accepted, you’ll have a better chance of them going for it!
Wet or soft foods like Yoghurt, Spaghetti Bolognese, noodles, purees
Perfect squelching foods that can slip and slide between fingers and are hit and miss whether they reach the mouth or not! The nemesis of many parents, stain-worthy Spaghetti Bolognese, is often the ultimate test – our bibs have all passed this test with flying colours! Grasping at little strands of spaghetti is great practise for developing fine motor skills and the delicious, healthy, tomatoey sauce is a firm favourite for many households. Experimenting with easy to scoop foods like yoghurt is also great spoon practise early on.
Amber: Mostly messy
Soft foods like pre-cooked vegetables, cheese, toast
Anyone else’s little one rub their whole face in a big floret of cooked broccoli leaving little green broccoli bits in their ears? No just us! These soft foods get broken up, played with, passed from hand to hand and sucked on, disintegrating into little pieces to be feasted on later. Thankfully the food-safe trays on the Tidy Tot Bib and Tray Kits keep this well-chewed food firmly in your baby’s reach. It’s worth taking your time with mealtimes, don’t rush the fun your baby can have with playing and exploring foods, it’s all part of the process.
Red: Less mess
Harder foods for when your baby has mastered chewing and has teeth, also chewy foods such as slow cooked strips of beef or the dark meat of chicken
Just as important as green and amber but on our just-for-fun messy food scale, these types of foods tend to lead to less mess as they hold together a bit more. They require the added benefit of encouraging your baby’s pincer grip to keep tightly hold of these finger foods.
Top tip: It’s a good idea for you to eat some of the same food you are presenting to your baby at mealtimes, they will copy you and lift their hands to their mouths. They learn best when copying you.
How to deal with the mess?
For those times when it inevitably gets messy, try not to reach for the wipes until the end of the meal. If food gets all over your baby’s face and hands leave it there until they’ve finished, that’s all part of the food experience – of course if it’s near their eyes wipe it away. This is where the Tidy Tot Bib and Tray Kit really helps. The coverall bib with integrated tray keeps your little one’s clothes, highchair and floor pristine; allowing them to get fully emerged in their sensory weaning experience, learning all the way, but without the timely clean-up for you.
Messy play activities such as jelly play or edible finger paints are also great ways to encourage sensory learning and introduced new sensations. You can find lots of ideas here.
Good luck and enjoy your (messy) weaning adventure from all of us at Tidy Tot!
For more weaning advice, recipes and support, or to find out more about Tidy Tot’s range of products, please visit www.tidytot.com
Disclaimer: The views and advice given in this article are those of the guest writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Weaning Week or any other organisations represented on this platform