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“Help me to do it by myself."
Now that our son is almost 7 months old, we realize that following his lead is becoming more and more important and weaning is a challenge, up until now it’s the point where I found it to be a little more difficult not to interfere more than it is necessary due to the fact that it tackles our own relationship with food, it implies coughing, gagging, or a life threatening aspect like chocking.
Initially we weren’t sure if we would go 100% with baby led weaning, but we’ve decided to inform ourselves regarding weaning especially the Montessori Weaning (Understanding the Human Being by Silvana Montanaro, Montessori from the Start by Paula Polk Lillard). But we observe our son and follow his lead and when he started grabbing food from our hands baby led weaning seemed such a natural progression to the Montessori principles that we have applied since his birth.
Why we did not go with pure Montessori?
Montessori weaning starts at 4 months and it does imply the use of pureed foods the first few months while it does allow independence when it comes to the prepared environment. He was just not prepared at four months and did not show any interest and we decided the wait for his signals.
With baby led weaning, children can start eating with the family right away, the same food (with some exceptions) from sixth months on (or even later if the baby does not show clear signs of being ready). Food has to be offered in a specific form so that it can be explored safely and baby decides the amount of food to eat and when she is ready to stop.
We find that to be in line with the Montessori principles and we have seen gross motor development that proves us this was the right choice for our family. Regardless of the type of weaning chosen a Pediatric CPR class is an absolute must.
Our Montessori prepared environment for weaning:
Montessori table and chair
We have the baby-sized wooden table and chair that we use for snacks for the moment.
We have found the topponcino to be the most useful Montessori product to have, from the last days of pregnancy to the first days in the hospital, to the first days at home, the first time in the crib, the first time in the stroller, at grandma’s house or during traveling, it helped us through any transition. It has our family’s and home scent so we use it now to support our baby on his weaning chair, it is soothing for him, makes him feel comfortable and safe.
Even if not considered Montessori we love eating all together as a family at the table and I think it’s such a joyful bonding moment. We use a cover-all waterproof bib. It is very helpful and easy to clean.
We’re waiting for that for the moment because he seems very distracted, since our high chair doesn’t have a tray we use a big wooden cutting board that we offer food on and allows him to focus on food.
We have a "bamboo bamboo" spoon that he loves, we preload it with hummus or mashed potatoes or softer food and he has become pretty good in mastering it already.
Glass (shot glass size)
The shot glass is the perfect size. He keeps it well in his hands, he seals his lips on the glass and he uses his tongue to drink it’s a pretty interesting progress, we show him how to use it every time and then let him try bu himself and then he follows our behavior and getting there.
Eating is fun for all of us, developing a healthy and serene relationship with food is our main goal, embracing the mess is a part of the process.
Allowing them freedom - It’s a learning process especially for us parents the prepared environment allows the development of the child's natural abilities from birth but we help him more when we interfere less, respecting him as a competent human being, verbalizing, being supportive, doing things with and not to him and explaining every step clearly from day one.
Babies natural abilities and instincts are sometimes suffocated by our rush, our anxiety or insecurity or excessive use of baby products that "help" them develop abilities that babies already posses naturally.
Final Note: Respect
Considering the child as a competent human being that just needs the right tools at the right moment and a loving and caring adult to observe, to listen and to offer those tools. And if you do not do it from the beginning it's never too late to start.
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