As your little one leaves the baby stage and grows into a toddler, the days of enticing them to “open up wide for the airplane” as you spoon feed them mushy peas will eventually be replaced by their attempts to feed themselves. And when this phase begins, avoiding a messy kitchen or child is nearly impossible. However, there are ways to not only improve the journey of self- feeding and minimize the messy eating habits, but also to embrace this stage in your little one’s growing experience.
Use Plates with Suction Cups
Allowing toddlers to feed themselves is a battle of clean versus mess, with mess almost always coming out on top (at least in the early self-feeding phase). Part of the struggle is when your little one is done with food and decides they are done with the plate, too! Enter plates with suction cups. By using plates with suctions underneath, it is more difficult for your little tike to throw their plate. With these plates, all you have to worry about is your toddler dumping a spoonful of food on the floor, which is a little bit more manageable!
Plate Smaller Portions
It is simple. Less food equals less mess! This does not mean you should limit your toddler’s food intake, though. Simply break their meal up into smaller portions and add more food to their plate as needed. This way, when they decides they are done, there will be fewer leftovers with which they can play.
Keep Mealtimes Short
If your toddler is given more time with their food, the chances of them making a mess throughout the kitchen and dining room are much higher than if you kept mealtime short. Be sure to have the meal ready before your toddler is seated and make sure they are hungry! Doing so encourages them to eat at the table instead of playing at the table.
Serve Neater Foods
If you are in a rush with little time for after-meal cleanup, consider plating up something that naturally tends to be a bit neater to eat. For instance, you may want to give your kiddo a plate of pre-cut chicken and softened veggies instead of a bowl of messy spaghetti or all-too-easy-to-spill soup.
If your toddler is given more time with their food, the chances of them making a mess throughout the kitchen and dining room are much higher than if you kept mealtime short.
Keep Calm and Parent On
From changing diapers to cleaning paint projects and everything in between, a parent’s job is a messy one. But life does not have to be neat to be fulfilling. While your first instinct when your toddler makes a mess may be to become frustrated, remember that self-feeding is an important step in building up their confidence and sense of independence. Messy eating habits will certainly not last forever, so embrace it and let your little one explore the different tastes and textures their food has to offer them.