Mealtimes are a fairly mad time of the day at our place. Mad and messy. But they are fun too and pretty interesting to watch. I am struggling to upload videos on my blog..will hopefully figure it out soon, but till then i guess we will have to settle for my descriptions and some pics.
Over the past few months, Siddhant and Nishant have been getting more and more independent about stuff…decisions about what to wear, which ball to take to the park, putting on and pulling off their pants…and eating! Which is good but also pretty messy. However, they are able to use a spoon and fork…and most of the food makes it into their mouth when they want it to (which is not always the case).
I started putting the boys into their high chairs when they were about 7 months old. I would give them a small spoon in their hands and while they played with their food, i would feed them. This was relatively less messy for a little time. Then the boys discovered that they could try and feed themselves and so we moved to the next step…me feeding them while they fed themselves. We had food all over…on the tray, on the floor, all over the boys, often all over me too. But i really did not want to force feed them and make mealtimes a war zone. So i let them be as long as they were not being deliberately wasteful.
Keeping in mind their need for doing things themselves, we started planning menus based on what they could eat on their own…So soups in sipper cups, rotis broken into small pieces that they could pick up with their fingers, fruits like melons, water melons, oranges that they could pick up and eat, chicken fingers, fish fingers, boiled veggies. There are times when the boys are tired or just fooling around with their food. That’s when i step in and feed them myself. But usually now that they are almost 2 years old, we stand by and let them do a lot of the eating. While the boys are eating, i try to ask them to recognize and name what they are eating. Even when the were not talking, we used mealtimes as a time to practice some signs…more, no more, all done, etc.
Of course it continues to be messy but i realized that they boys enjoyed their mealtimes. We have 2 chairs – like they twins, nothing about the chairs is similar…one is white, the other is blue. One is a plastic seat, the other one has a printed washable fabric cover. The boys take turns or race each other to the chair they want. They have figured out how to climb into it on their own. They ask for a fork or a spoon if they need one. Or they use their fingers…Siddhant is really good with his hands…he manages to eat rice with his fingers. Nishant works better with a spoon…last evening, he chose to eat his soup with a spoon like me and most of it made its way into his mouth. The last bit was flung with a flourish onto his tray, spread about messily after which he proceeded to draw circles in it with his fingers.
I usually try and make the most of spillages if the boys have eaten decently. There is always some spillage, so i let them make circles or ‘drawings’ on their tray with their fingers. It’s going to have to be washed anyway so i figure it’s ok. Someone may call this ‘playing with their food’ but i feel that it’s been spilled already so a few minutes of sensory play can’t hurt 🙂
Mealtimes are always followed by a quick wash or, post dinner, by a nice warm bath…they need to be cleaned and it also calms them down and prepares them for nap time or bed.