Let Your Baby Be Messy
Feeding time can be one of the most stressful times (besides doctor visits) when you’re raising your little one. You sit them in the high chair and place the food on the tray. You do one of two things - you feed your baby or you let your baby feed him/herself.
Armed with a napkin in hand you’re wiping down your baby after each bite to get the food off of her/his face. Although this is ideal for adults, not so much for babies. No one likes having their face grabbed and getting wiped down after every bite. Think about it. Studies show that letting babies make a mess when they’re eating is actually a good thing (insert cringe here).
Sensory development- By allowing them to be messy you’re encouraging sensory play which is the process of stimulating your babies’ senses - touch, smell, taste, sight, sound. This is an important step in their developmental process. By allowing them to touch, squeeze, throw food around, they’re learning to identify different foods by texture, smell, and taste. They’re learning so much during this time. Hot soup, cold ice cube, sour lemon, sweet watermelon, salty mashed potatoes, crunchy cookie, and the list goes on.
Hand mouth connection - When you let your baby try and self feed, they’re practicing getting the food from the bowl to their mouth with their hand (or grabease utensil - shameless plug) which is helping fine tune their motor skills. Sight develops within the first two years, so the more they practice, the better they’ll get at understanding depth of field. Understanding that their hand is the tool to get the food from point A to point B.
Confidence - Taste is an infants’ gateway to the world. This sensory experience is how children first gather information, one of the strongest emotional senses they have. Letting your child have the freedom to touch and play their food helps increase their word learning which will build confidence and independence, the ultimate goal when raising our children. Messy eating is one of the building blocks for self-reliance, tenacity and self-sufficiency. With positive reinforcement and love, our children will pick up other experiences in life that will allow them to make better informed decisions through the information gathering stage that they’ve learned to harness from such an early age.
Healthy relationship with food - Letting them be free around feeding time will let them foster a healthy relationship with food because they’ll know they can play and learn at their pace. Plus, your child will give you cue’s when they’re no longer hungry. Letting them determine when they’re full will form a healthy habit of knowing when to stop eating instead of ignoring fullness signs.