I’m sure you may be cringing seeing the words baby and mess put together. But if you can keep an open mind about this, I promise it will pay off in the long run! Babies do not value tidiness in the way their parents do. They were designed to be explorers and getting messy comes with the territory. Allowing your baby to explore and develop their skills has some major benefits for their development.
Allowing your baby the opportunity to feed themselves gives them the earliest chance of autonomy. Handing them the spoon from 6 months of age allows them to practice using it at an early age with the potential to become an independent young toddler. At first the food may go everywhere except their mouth, but overtime they will learn to make it to the target more successfully.
Provides Sensory Exposure
Babies that are constantly being wiped down can become more sensitive to touch due to lack of exposure. Their tactile system needs to feel a variety of sensations in order to learn to tolerate and enjoy the stimuli the word has to offer. Try to avoid bibs that cover their entire upper body. Even better, keep baby in only a diaper during mealtime. Leave whatever food gets on their skin until the end of the meal and then clean them off well when they’re done, before they put their sticky little hands on your furniture.
Promotes a Positive Relationship with Food
As adults we understand that a person’s relationship with food and eating can be complicated. This is because of our past experiences and societal values. It is so important that we do what we can to help our children establish a healthy relationship with food. Allowing meals to be a fun experience helps your child to look forward to eating and can help to prevent mealtime struggles. As adults, it is fun for us to go to a great new restaurant with friends, gather around the dinner table with family, and to celebrate holidays by making our favorite dishes from childhood. For kids, painting the table with yoghurt and blowing bubbles into their drink is fun. Of course, you can draw a line where you need to, but allowing some silliness and flexibility goes a long way.
As with all things child related, the messy phase won’t last forever. Try to let your child enjoy it and maybe even learn to enjoy it yourself!
By Marielle Marquez
Marielle Marquez is a toddler mom, wife and pediatric occupational therapist with over 12 years of experience. She specializes in feeding and swallowing, is a lactation educator and is certified in neonatal massage. She is passionate about respectful parenting and empowering other parents. Find her at https://thrivelittle.com/ and http://instagram.com/thrivelittle .