Weaning begins when older babies begin to show an interest in solid food. The sensitive period for weaning occurs at around 6 months of age. Prior to this time, children were only fed through methods such as bottles or breasts. For them, it is exciting to realize that they can grasp foods now and have more control over tastes and textures.

To put it simply, a weaning table set is a small table and chair that young children are able to climb into and out of with little adult assistance. When deciding whether or not to use a weaning table, there are many factors to take into account.

Why choose a weaning table instead of a high chair?

Young children have an innate desire to be able to do as much as possible independently. It is possible to meet this need with child-size furniture. Weaning tables not only allow for independence at mealtime, as it relates to getting into and out of their seats independently but also provide additional opportunities for practical life activities. Here are some Practical Life activities that can be done at a weaning table: setting the table, making a flower arrangement for the table prior to a meal, clearing the table, and washing the table and chairs.

Weaning tables also provide the opportunity for early control of movement activities, such as moving the chair quietly or carrying food to and from the table without spilling or dropping anything.

Additionally, Montessori weaning tables can be easily repurposed, even between meals. When the table and chairs are not being used for eating, Montessori parents often use them for activities. After a child has grown out of the weaning table or no longer desires to eat at the weaning table, it can be placed elsewhere in the house permanently.

Weaning tables not only allow for independence at mealtime, as it relates to getting into and out of their seats independently but also provide additional opportunities for practical life activities.
CREDIT: WEANING TABLE AND CHAIR / DUCK WOOD WORKSHOP FROM ETSY

As an alternative to a high chair, you can use a weaning table and a weaning chair. In the end, each family will decide what is best for them. The benefits of using a high chair for babies and a booster for toddlers are that they are kept in one place with no risk of falling, and that parents have more control over mealtimes.

Small furniture and the Montessori approach to weaning

Montessori promotes developmentally appropriate independence in all areas. This “early” independence leads to increased enjoyment of activities often considered by children to be tedious. As a child’s first finger foods are introduced, enjoyment of meals and a sense of pride and self-worth should also be introduced.

It is common for Montessori parents to use a method of weaning called ‘baby-led weaning’. This means that instead of introducing purees when a baby shows all the signs of being ready for solid foods, a baby is introduced to finger foods and utensils.

From beginning to end, children participate in every aspect of the meal in a Montessori environment. Helping to prepare the meal, serving it, and enjoying it independently is a respectful way to approach mealtimes. In addition to all the other benefits, parents feel that involving their children in food preparation and giving them responsibility for eating and serving helps keep picky eating at bay.

During snack and meal times, you will see children gathered around a small table in a Montessori toddler classroom. Throughout the process, the children are happy and enjoying themselves, and the teacher is simply there to assist as needed.

Can we have a weaning table and still have meals at the family table?

Conversation and bonding take place during meals. Many parents associate a weaning table with the idea of the children eating separately from the rest of the family.

Weaning tables do not mean that you must give up family mealtimes. Not only would it be awkward and possibly upsetting to the parents, child, or both, but it would be unsafe, especially for a very young toddler. This is not the idea behind weaning tables at all.

Montessori weaning tables are installed at certain meals in some families. Other families choose to only allow snack times to happen at the low table, then meals happen at the main table with the whole family.

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The Montessori-Minded Mom. 2021. Why You Need a Montessori Weaning Table and Chair. [online] Available at: <https://reachformontessori.com/why-you-need-a-montessori-weaning-table-and-chair/> [Accessed 20 September 2021].

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