Montessori believes that an environment should be tailored to the child. This often means equipping your home with child-sized furniture. Having comfortable furniture allows children to move around independently. Weaning tables are no different. It allows babies to transition from a liquid diet (nursing or formula) to eating solid foods. This allows babies to enjoy a meal in the same way they have seen their parents since birth. Montessori weaning tables have many benefits, in our opinion.
Weaning tables allow children who have started eating solid food to practice eating like adults and older children, helping them develop a sense of independence very early in life. All learning depends on the confidence, drive, and exploration that come from this. By teaching children to take pride in their accomplishments and directing their own activities, the weaning table prepares them for the Montessori approach to learning.
When to Introduce the Weaning Table
The pace and development of every kid are different, and it’s a good idea to respect that. At the same age, not all children are ready for solid food or to sit comfortably on their own. But most children are ready to sit unassisted and start experimenting with solid food once they’re eight months old.
Benefits of Using a Weaning Table
Weaning tables allow children to become independent and self-directed. Giving children the freedom to leave the table as they wish without needing assistance is a great way to teach them autonomy and how good it feels to be able to do things on their own.
Feeling Grown Up
Even at an early age, children tend to imitate. The fact that they get to do something just like mommy and daddy means a lot to them. And meal and snack times are no exception. As a result, they feel like a part of the family, instead of isolated in their little world of high chairs and plastic plates.
Of course, the weaning table isn’t just for food. It’s a great spot for your kid to play independently. Don’t be surprised if that little table becomes a favorite spot for crafts, coloring, and flipping through picture books.
Although it can sometimes be convenient for the parents to have the child at an adult level, feeling trapped in a high chair is not fun (imagine being strapped into a chair with a tray over your lap every time you wanted to eat). For spoon-feeding children, high chairs are ideal. However, the weaning table allows children to eat at their own pace, direct their own feeding, and acquire the fine motor skills necessary for holding food or utensils.
It also allows children to eat with the family. As anyone who has fed a child knows, spooning the food into their mouths isn’t as easy as it looks. It takes patience, encouragement, and vigilance for all the times food does not stay in their mouths. Usually, that means feeding the child before or after mealtime or only letting them eat after everyone else has eaten. The little ones can eat along with the rest of the family at a weaning table, so no one has to dote over them.
Weaning tables provide a gathering space for young children, including siblings to fully interact during a meal. The baby isn’t tucked away in a chair on their own, but right in the middle of the meal action.
Doesn’t It Get Lonely?
You might worry that your child will be lonely eating at a little table all by themselves. However, what they are really doing is practicing eating together as a family.
In addition, children eat more frequently than adults (new parents are often surprised at how many times they have to feed snacks during the day), so they often eat on their own. However, you can still keep them company by staying in the room (and someone should be present whenever they eat due to the risk of choking).
Montessori focuses is on finding small ways to help children develop in big ways. A weaning table is a very simple tool that can make a big difference for your child and help him or her to get a head start on the Montessori method.
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Applemontessorischools.com. 2021. Why Montessori Families Use Weaning Tables | Apple Montessori Blog. [online] Available at: <https://applemontessorischools.com/montessori-families-use-weaning-tables/> [Accessed 17 September 2021].
The Kavanaugh Report. 2021. Benefits of the Montessori Weaning Table. [online] Available at: <https://www.thekavanaughreport.com/2016/02/benefits-of-montessori-weaning-table.html> [Accessed 17 September 2021].