Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Meal time with the Montessori weaning table

I have been using this Montessori weaning table and chairs with the babies since the first day Sweetpea came here.  It is working amazingly well.  Both babies are well supported in the little chairs and they are able to concentrate on the task at hand which is of course eating and learning to feed themselves.
The table is left bare when we are not using it and once I have prepared breakfast or lunch I put the place mats on the table.  We have been doing this for five weeks now and I can say to Sweet pea "It's lunch(breakfast)time and she sees me putting on the place mats.  She will shuffle her way over to the table, pull up on it and make her way into the chair that I have pulled out for her.  Baby J who is still not on the move is still lifted into the chair.
As I mentioned in a previous post I decided to put the table in the Infant area instead of the kitchen because we just don't have enough room for it in there.  I put down four foam play mats underneath it to protect the carpet and they work really well.  I can easily wipe and sweep up any spills.
Before I call the babies to the table I make sure that I have everything I need so I don't have to leave them while they are at the table.  I put everything in a little basket shown here.  At this meal they each have their own little ceramic bowl of red lentils, a spoon, small plate for pita bread and cucumber and a small glass for drinking.  I also include a pitcher for refilling their glasses and a small bowl with two wet cloths.
Sweetpea and Baby J are almost 3 and a half months apart so are at very different stages in their journey of independent eating and drinking. 
If I was a gold star giving kind of gal Sweetpea would definitely get one for eating.  She is a fantastic eater both in the fact that she will eat almost anything and also that she can feed herself.  She loves to eat and is very focused at every meal.  Her mama began offering her a spoon around 11 months I think and she would take it and feed herself and then give it back so her mama could get another spoonful of food for her.  She has now developed so that she can completely feed herself with the spoon.  She does an amazing job of picking up the food in her bowl with the spoon and getting it into her mouth.  For Sweetpea I just leave her the bowl on the table and also give her a side plate with a finger food on it.  She alternates between feeding herself the finger food and the spooned food.  The one thing I do have to watch out for is that she will just keep putting the finger food into her mouth until it is gone no matter how full her mouth gets.  What I do is for example just put one small triangle of pita bread on her plate and don't give her another until her mouth is empty.  If we have smaller pieces of food I will bring another plate that I keep and just keep giving her about three pieces at a time until she has finished the ones in her mouth.
She drinks out of a glass but is still getting used to the feeling of it.   As I mentioned before Sweetpea is very focused on eating and will almost never mess about with the plate or utensils.
Baby J is another personality altogether.  He is quiet a little joker and loves to try and do things to "impress" Sweetpea.  She takes absolutely no notice whatsoever but he still tries.  He will blow raspberries in his drink or make funny sounds which he thinks is hilarious.  He is quite rambunctious while eating and still loves to explore his place mat and side plate.  I will give him a side plate with his finger food on it but if he starts messing about with it I take it away.  Once he has calmed down I will put it on the table again with a piece of food.  I keep his bowl on the table closer to Sweetpea and spoon out a helping for him.  I give him the spoon and he feeds himself and then gives me the spoon to get another helping.  He does this for about half the meal and then usually looses interest and I will feed him another few spoonfuls before he is done.  I keep his glass with me and will offer it to him several times throughout the meal.  He will pick it up and drink out of it and then give it back to me.  He is so confident (or cheeky) now that he just holds it and drinks with one hand just like the big people.  He usually doesn't last at the table as long as Sweetpea before he starts playing with his place mat.  That is when I know he is done and I give him his cloth.  He also tries to take off his bib.
The whole meal usually lasts about 10 to 15 minutes.  Once I have wiped them off I pull out their chairs and help them down from the table.  I then take all of the items back to the kitchen and wipe down the table and mats. 

They are both so used to sitting at the table that they never try to get off their chairs or move around until they are finished.  Sometimes I just die of cute watching them eat their meals and have their little conversations.
That mats that are in the picture have now disintegrated so I have to get some new ones.  Once I have them I will start to give one to Sweetpea to help me to bring to and place on the table.  Once she is walking confidently she will have her own little basket which will have a few things she can use to set the table and I will have her help to clear a few things as well.  I am also going to attempt to make bibs that they can start to put on and take off on their own.
So what happens after the meal?  Well the potty of course......

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Angela said...

Where did you get those chairs? :)

Montessori Beginnings said...

Hi Angela. My husband made the chairs and he just cut the legs down on an Ikea coffee table.

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