In Episode 26, I spoke to EZPZ's amazing Pediatric Feeding Specialist, Ms. Dawn Winkelmann, all about the benefits of using a bowl during mealtime! We discussed:
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I had so much fun recording Episode 26 of the Montessori Babies Podcast! If you enjoyed and think it may be helpful to someone you know, I would love it if you would leave a review and share with your friends and family!
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Bianca A. Solorzano, M.Ed.
Baby Development & Montessori Consultant
And Your Baby Tour Guide
Bianca: [00:00:07] Welcome to Baby Tour Guide’s, Montessori Babies podcast. I'm your host and baby tour guide Bianca Solorzano And for the last decade, I have dedicated myself to helping parents, educators and caregivers optimize baby development through a Montessori lens. This podcast is all about evolving our Montessori practice to make our time with our sweet babies easier, relaxed and so much fun. Let's jump into it. Hello, everyone, welcome to episode twenty six of our Montessori Babies podcast, this is such a fun week. We are talking all about the importance of using a bowl in your monastery weaning journey or you're weaning. Experience your solid food experience, and I'm so excited to have easy these amazing pediatric feeding specialist Miss Dawn Winkleman back on our show to talk all about it. So to start, I want to go ahead and jump right into our quote so we can get into our interview because there's so much good info today. Our quote is from Understanding the Human Being by Silvana Montanaro, which this is one of my favorite Montessori books. For those of you who are looking for some Montessori books to learn more about Montessori in infancy, this is such a good one.
Bianca: [00:01:23] Very inspirational, but I thought it would just be so perfect because there is a section of the book that is dedicated to the solid food introduction process or the Montessori weaning process, as they called it. So the quote is “Every situation in which the child is able to do things by himself gives strength to the ego and changes the relationship with the environment.” And that, to me, just felt so perfect for this episode, because in Montessori, one of the things that we do do is offer our babies a bowl, offer them an area specifically for the food that they will be eating. And you're going to learn from a developmental perspective why that is why using a bowl is just so wonderful. And again, because Montessori is aimed at optimising the natural progression of human development, it's just so perfect that we hone in on these areas of development and then talk about what we do in Montessori. So anyway, let's go ahead and jump right into our interview. Thank you so much, Dawn, for coming back on our show. I love having you on. So thank you. Thank you.
Dawn: [00:02:28] Thank you so much for having me.
Bianca: [00:02:30] So for those in our audience who haven't heard any of our previous episodes where you guested, can you tell us a little bit about your history?
Dawn: [00:02:37] Yes. Hi, everyone. My name is Dawn Winkelman. I am a pediatric speech language pathologist and infant swallowing specialist, and I am here talking to all of you about how to be able to feed your baby and how to be able to do things successfully in order to avoid seeing a feeding therapist like myself and be able to make food and mealtime a joyful occasion.
Bianca: [00:03:07] Yay. Ok. I am so excited for today's episode because we are talking all about the importance of using a bowl, and it's one of those ones that seems, you know, like an obvious part of their experience. But there's so much to it, so I'm so excited to talk about it. You know, there are tons of ways in a lot of advice out there as far as how to feed our babies. And so why should parents and educators and caregivers who are working with babies use a bowl?
Dawn: [00:03:38] It's so important because, you know, I see all of these pictures on social media of babies eating directly off of a highchair tray or, you know, parents just handing babies food and baby not really being able to eat out of a bowl. And it does, like you're saying, it seems like it should be. Yeah, babies should eat out of bowls, but so many families don't know that. And what a bowl does is it allows a caregiver to have a place to put food, but also allows a baby to actually be able to interact with that food. Successfully being able to eat from a bowl really starts that whole developmental process of being able to reach and grab foods and bring things to their mouths. So it's really important for children to be set up for success with the starting solids. And part of that success is for us to provide an environment to help maybe maintain their interest in food and being able to successfully grab that food. And the best way to do that is offering food in a bowl.
Bianca: [00:04:53] So wonderful. So I know you mentioned that the six month age, as far as when they start their their feeding experience and in my, you know, there's a lot of different ways that parents and caregivers will approach the feeding experience and especially coming from a Montessori school setting, but also having been in a lot of different child care settings. It's also very common for the caregiver to have the bowl and then, you know, and then, you know, feed the baby that way. And so can you talk about how to introduce the bowl, when to introduce the bowl, what that looks like in babies?
Bianca: [00:05:26] Yes, yes. So the reason why we don't want to hold the bowl is because of the fact that again. Doesn't allow a baby to develop, so many milestones occur during feeding. And if we are holding the bull, then they don't work on reaching, they don't work on their hand and mouth coordination. They don't work on their depth perception, which is so important to be able to move past food and start really playing and learning how to play right. So all of those skills need to happen in this feeding environment so that a child cognitively starts to move forward in all of their areas of the development. If a caregiver is holding a bowl and kind of offering food, then they're generally spoon feeding a baby. And we know that, you know, if a child is not feeding themselves because developmentally a baby is supposed to bring a spoon to their mouth, that's six months of age. Well, then we're missing that spoon milestone. And if the caregiver is continuing to provide food via spoon, then they're not maintaining their next feeding milestone, which is being able to grab food with their hand and bringing it to their mouth.
Dawn: [00:06:43] So we're already, you know, maybe baby seven months old and we're missing two milestones, you know, if we're still continuing to feed baby that way by nine months now, baby's not dipping. The spoon and baby is not working on their pincer grasp with food because they have no access to that bowl. So again, that's when I start seeing babies is around the nine month mark and the parents are just like, Oh, my baby's not doing any of these things. And I'm usually saying, Are you controlling the bull or is the bull in front of baby? So baby can actually start to work on all these skills, right? So a bull is the object of choice to be able to have a child know where they're going to focus, where that food is going to be, really work on all these cognitive skills of what that expectation is and to problem solve and and really figure out a way to provide that sensory development. And we can't really do that if the child does not have access to the bull.
Bianca: [00:07:42] Yes. Yes, absolutely. One thing that I actually observed and that I loved about having like an isolated area for their food like like the bowl, for example, is that it really reduces the throwing because there's an area for it. There's a purposeful area for it, you know?
Dawn: [00:08:03] Yes, that is so true. And you know, so many families will say, you know, my child will throw food and and you know, if if I was frustrated at mealtime, I'd throw food too. Right? It's like, that's the only way baby knows how to communicate. So a lot of the food throwing that happens is because baby wants to do it and is not allowed to do it. And so babies like, Hey, I want to grab a piece of that food because guess what? My brain and my body and developmentally is like, Hey, you're supposed to be doing this. So the only way that they can share their frustration because they can't speak yet is they'll toss food, right? Like, Hey, I want to do it right. So I always tell parents when they're going through like those, the Toddler 2's the terrible twos and they're like, No, no. Their favorite word is no. And I was like, That's what they were trying to say, you know, at the beginning of feeding when they were throwing right, they just they don't have another way to express themselves. And one of the best techniques to stop throwing food is to offer the baby the bull. So like you're saying, yes, have all that food there. But also what it does is it keeps babies attention at midline. You know, what happens is when a caregiver holds a bull, then baby is going to lean to the right or lean to the left or lean back when when that spoon is coming towards them. And we don't want baby to be moving around that much. We want them to maintain their positioning at midline. Number one, it's all about safety.
Dawn: [00:09:36] It's going to keep their airway more protected. Number two, research shows that if a baby is leaning forward more at mealtime and not moving from side to side or back, they have more of a positive relationship with their feeder. So we want to make sure that that is occurring. We also want to make sure that that baby is going to tend longer. Research shows that a longer that a child sits there at mealtime, the more they're exposed to all the colors and tastes and textures of mealtime. If that bowl is being hidden and babies kind of moving around, trying to grab the food right or throwing the food and being distracted by all these things, they're not really focusing on the new texture or the new color or something else that mom just, you know, prepared so joyfully and now seeing thrown on the floor, right? Which can be frustrating for baby and moms. So one of the best tips for to decrease throwing is to make sure that that bowl is is offered and positioned appropriately for baby. The easy peasy. Ball, which is a tiny ball that we designed, fits on all high chairs and fits on all tables. So one of the things that parents will say is like, Well, I just couldn't find a bowl that fit on my high chair. Well, the tiny bowl will fit on every single high chair that's out there, even space saver models. So it's easy to be able to put in your diaper bag. Go to a restaurant, go to daycare, go to to grandma's house and and have a successful and safe way to be able to offer solace to your baby.
Bianca: [00:11:06] Yeah, that's thank you for that. That's such amazing information. As far as you know, introducing the bowl when you know, can you if you haven't introduced the bowl yet, so say you've been putting food on their high chair, you know that kind of thing. And this is new information, right? Can you introduce it at any point?
Dawn: [00:11:26] Yes, absolutely. So so yes, those of you who are listening and they're like, Oh my gosh, I've been putting it on the tray. You can introduce the bowl at any time. It's never too late to introduce the bowl because what that bowl does is it starts to add a whole new dimension to meal time for baby to have more control and be more independent and families who say, you know, my baby's stuck on purees and won't eat any other foods that are in like stick forms. And one of the first things they'll say is, are you providing baby a bowl? And when they say, no, I'm like, they can't grab it. So, you know, if if, if pieces of food are on the highchair tray, it's very difficult for for kids to grab. So what they end up doing is grabbing that food towards the end of the tray where there's a lip and then they grab it. But guess what? They haven't worked on those fine motor skills and it falls to the floor. Well, it looks like babies throwing, but babies just trying to pick it up. So if we have it in the bowl and baby is able to just grab that right out of the bowl, woo. They're already successful in being able to have that piece of food in their grasp. And now they can easily bring that to their mouth and be a successful eater and then start to eat more. Because parents will also say, You know, I make all these foods and, you know, my baby eats like a bite or two, and I'll say, Are you serving it in a bowl? Or you see me on the high chair tray because it allows baby to be able to be successful? And the most important thing when we're first starting out solids, or if a if a parent has already put food on to the tray and reintroducing the bowl is you'll see them be more attentive because, you know, if it's a piece of mango, that mango is slipping around the bowl and they're trying to find it like they because they have control now.
Dawn: [00:13:15] So they are more interested in that. They are more attuned to the slipperiness and the smell. And now they're really curious about that food because they are trying to grab it right and be successful with it. Whereas if it slips and slides onto the tray, they're less likely to continue to engage in that food because now we went from this environment that the food is located in like a couple of inches to a couple of feet onto the high chair tray, kind of like out of sight, out of mind. Babies are just like, not really interested in that anymore. And so or it starts to to the baby starts to have that food get closer to the edges of the tray. And a caregiver might be like, Hey, don't don't drop it, don't throw it on the floor. And then all of a sudden, right? That's just a natural response. Baby is a little nervous, like, Oh, am I doing something wrong and then completely stops eating? So just providing that bowl, you can do that any time during the six months to 12 months process.
Bianca: [00:14:21] I love how you said, you know, basically introducing the bowl sets them up for success, right? Because they don't have the grasp quite yet to be able to kind of isolate their fingers to lift off the tray. At that point, they still have more of they're using their four fingers with their thumb. And, you know, so it really does set them up for success. And I've seen it in your bowl is so amazing because you don't have to worry about it slipping and sliding around with the child. So it really does set them up for success. Thank you. Thank you. So what are some types of foods that we can put into the bowl with our newly feeding babies? And then, you know, as they as they develop?
Dawn: [00:15:06] Yes. So you can. Whether you are choosing to do a traditional method of feeding, so having purees that can be put into the bowl and then you preload the spoon and just kind of set that on the edge of the bowl. So all baby has to do to just grab the spoon and put it in the mouth because at six months, seven months, eight months, 10 months, 11 months, baby's still not scooping on our own. So we will preload that spoon. But we're going to set that spoon on the edge of that bowl so that baby just. Grabs a spoon and puts into the mouth. We're not actually feeding baby that puree babies can feed themselves. So the first puree, you can offer a thin puree, you can offer a thicker puree, then you can offer a lumpy puree to give you an example of those thicknesses of a thin carrot puree, for example, or a thicker mashed potato or a lumpy puree like oatmeal or cottage cheese, right? So that now you've got you're still offering periods, but you're offering three different textures of pure eggs. Three different ways for the baby to engage with that food, engage with that bowl, engage with that spoon and three different textures that are going on the tongue to practice those muscle movements to be able to have a good swallow. If you're going to do baby led weaning, you can put strips of food into the bowl. So it makes it really easy for them to grab that strip of banana and bring it up to the rim of the bowl and put it right into their mouth.
Dawn: [00:16:31] So that makes it very fun and successful. Or if you're doing a combination approach where you're doing a little bit of puree and a little bit of baby led weaning, you can still use the exact same bowl to be able to help facilitate that. And in our bowl, that easy peasy tiny bowl, it's a bowl and placemat all in one so you can put food in the bowl, but you can also put food on the placemat. What's really exciting about that is that there's a little bit of a lip, a little bit of edge, so it still gives that texture to be able to help facilitate that. And you can use that mat for food, or you can preload the spoon and either put it inside the rim of the bowl or onto the side of the mat. So that makes that a little bit easier because that silicone not only has a great sensory feature, but it doesn't roll off like if you put the spoon onto the tray, it's just going to slide off because most of the trays have these chemicals that make it very slippery. I don't know why they do that. It's so slippery. It makes it difficult for babies to be able to eat. But if you put the spoon onto the edge of the mat, it makes it very easy for them to really practice those fine motor skills, work in the hand and mouth coordination and make, you know, movements to the mouth more successful.
Bianca: [00:17:40] Absolutely. I love how you said the preloading the spoon, too, because that was always my tactic when I was working with my babies in the classroom. We had the the trays and we had a non-slip on the tray and then you would put the bowl and then I would scoop the spoon and put it next to the bowl. And so I love how your mat kind of just comes ready for that, you know? And then you can do the same thing. You just scoop it, put it next to it and baby set up for success. I love that.
Dawn: [00:18:08] And that's what we really try to do with all of our products is like, Well, it'll work for this and it'll work for you in this way, and you can try it this way. It's being able to because there's no right way to to to really feed kids, right. We just need to be able to set them up with the best environment so that they can choose. And here's the thing, too I always tell families you may choose baby led weaning. Your baby might not want any part of that. You may choose purees. Your baby might not want any part of that. We try to figure out how that feeding road is going to be. But ultimately it's baby's choice, right? They have control of how much they're eating and if they even want to eat. So we just have to have different opportunities to be able to do that. So that's what I love about our bowl is that it provides a parent or a caregiver with the best opportunities to be able to bring that to whatever environment because it travels very easily. It comes in a wet bag. So it's really nice that you can just fit into your diaper bag or your therapy bag or your purse, and so it could just transition with you.
Dawn: [00:19:13] It's super lightweight, so it makes it really simple to be able to just eat on the run as well. So it makes sure that baby is always going to have that skill set no matter where you go, because families will tell me I do it all right here at home. But then they go to daycare and I'm like, Well, guess what? The ball could go to daycare. Guess what? The bulk are going to grandma like. You know, you can buy a second bowl or you can pack the bowl just like you pack everything else for your child to go to the next environment. You can pack that bowl so that those skills can transition to another environment. And then that teacher can be really successful as a feeder. Because here's the thing, too. You know, we're talking about benefits of the bowl, and one of the best benefits of that bowl is being able to go to different environments because so many children will only eat with mom or only eat with dad. Grandma comes over baby's crying the whole entire time because they don't want to eat with grandma, right? It is. It's having these, these mealtime gear, this mealtime gear that can go wherever your child goes. So that's consistent. The feeder may change, but the the environment at which we are putting the child in is the same so it can make them feel.
Dawn: [00:20:34] Comfortable enough to eat in other environments so that a parent doesn't have to worry while I'm dropping them off at school or dropping them off at daycare. My gosh, my is my baby even going to eat? Well, if you give them the tools that that they have when they're in at home and are successful with, it's going to increase the opportunity for that baby to be able to be successful in that environment and still get their nutrition needs met and decrease blame and worry and shame and and guilt and everything else that parents feel. And really, you're like, Oh yeah, you know what? Baby had a wonderful meal with her aunt this weekend. Baby had a great experience with grandma. And guess what? Now, Grandma feels so special because they got to be able to share a meal with baby, and it just really again intensifies that family unit around food and so that people can really share that experience because it's so stressful for a parent to know that their child will only eat with them. Right. And and having a bowl really helps baby feel comfortable to do that in other environments.
Bianca: [00:21:38] Yeah, absolutely. And I will say to having, you know, kind of come from the school environment, most centers and schools are very, very willing to to work with you and accommodate your infant and toddlers needs. And so, you know, just work closely with whoever their outside caregiver is, and you will make an amazing team for your child, you know? And now for a quick message from our sponsor. One thing I can promise all of you is I will only ever promote products that I have tried and tested within my years of experience within the Montessori world. And that's why I am so excited to announce the Monastery Babies podcast partnership with Easy Peasy. So Easy Peasy provides all the feeding gear you need for babies first bites and sips all the way to feeding independence. Each collection is designed for a different developmental stage. The tiny collection is for infants, their mini collection is for toddlers, and the happy collection is for preschoolers. Easy peasy products are made from one hundred percent food grade silicone, and they come in muted colors such as sage and blush. Other gorgeous colors like lime and coral, and some Montessori colors like blue and gray. Head on over to easy peasy. Fun to check out the developmental benefits and safety features of each product and be sure to use the code Montessori babies 10 for 10 percent off at checkout. Thank you so much to easy peasy for sponsoring our Montessori Babies podcast and now back to our show. So as far as benefits. So what are some benefits that people don't commonly know in regards to using the bowl?
Dawn: [00:23:24] So I think the biggest one is is positioning and how a bowl helps with that. So we talked a little bit about Mid Line and why that's so important. So if the bowl is placed in front of the child, what makes that so important is that the child is going to lean forward and that head is going to have be slightly tucked down to look at the bowl just like you and I eat. So everyone again envision that you are eating a meal and that there is a bowl of of something in front of you. And now look down at that bowl. Notice that the way that your your shoulders are positioned, your hands are positioned. The way your neck is slightly tilt. That positioning closes. The way to the airway, opens the way to the esophagus for a really successful swallow. That's a position we want the child to be in for airway protection. The other thing is that if that bowl is placed at midline, which means in the very middle part of baby, now a baby can take the right hand and go across that bowl. Baby can take their left hand and go across that bowl. Now we're crossing mid line. Right now we're reaching or grabbing that spoon that moves over there. We're leaning over for that cup. Now, baby is what we call an active feeder. Baby is engaged than that now. Baby's going to start having more sensory awareness.
Dawn: [00:24:53] They're going to start feeling that, looking at that yogurt on their hand, licking it, putting it in their hair. Right? Make it a mess. But what that does is it starts to develop all the sensory capabilities for a mealtime and really starts to have baby. If that pulls at midline work on the sense of smell, work on hearing what when I take my palm and I slap it into that bowl of yogurt. I'm hearing that wet sound. I'm feeling it on my hands. So we're engaging in all the five senses and allowing the child to be able to really focus on the enjoyment of looking at. A caregiver who is sitting across from you, hopefully eating a little bit too and and making that eye contact and feeling trust with food, so having a bowl in front of a baby to allow them to really engage with that food on all different levels really sets. A lifelong path of eating right is because they there's no shame in and being able to get a little messy and and have that food and crossing midline and and doing all those things. So it really can incorporate a baby's love for food that will grow in to be a toddler who wants to be in the kitchen and, you know, really be around food and decrease the the picky eating experiences that you might expect in toddler hood.
Bianca: [00:26:24] Absolutely. I love how you went into crossing the midline also, because, you know, along the lines of Montessori materials, there are materials purposely for crossing the midline. So this is just another example as how feeding can really offer a wide variety of developmental opportunities, you know, so it's just so wonderful.
Dawn: [00:26:47] Thank you.
Bianca: [00:26:48] And then another thing that I find to be really wonderful as far as the ball goes is kind of like you mentioned, like the lifelong goal right of of eating from a from a bowl. We also eat from bowls and they see us eat from bowls. And so we're modeling it too. So we give them the opportunity to practice.
Dawn: [00:27:08] That is a great point because, you know, I mean, I see all types of babies, right? And I see a lot of babies who have unfortunately sustained traumatic brain injuries. Almost all of the babies that have ever seen that have sustained head injuries from falling out of high chairs have been wanting to reach for food out of mom or dad's plate or bowl. And so I tell parents if they have their own bowl, they don't need to try to get out of the high chair and Houdini it and fall because they are seeing what you're eating. They have their own bowl. They see, Oh, I've got avocado, my bowl. Well, guess what? Mom's eating avocado toast. Yeah, I don't need to go reach for her bowl. I've got the same thing in my bowl. I have a bowl. So that's another safety feature. And it is a great point that, you know, if they have their own bowl and they're seeing their caregiver eat some of the same foods and you know, they see all of us eating at a bowls or plates. They feel like a big kid and they feel really independent and they don't have to want to get out. They're going to sit there for a longer periods of time because of the fact that they they feel like a big kid. They want to do it all their own right. They really are really starting to develop their own personalities and and they want to, you know, be like, mom, they want to be like dad. They want to be like their siblings. They want to be like their classmates. And if they're the only one without a bowl, they're going to try to get out of that high chair and go and go get it. So it can be a real safety feature for that, too.
Bianca: [00:28:38] Absolutely. And they learn so much from watching us. So, you know, the the modeling piece is just huge. I tell you how many times I was, you know, been in the classroom and in the home settings and, you know, babies just eyeballing you as you're taking your bite from your ball, you know? And then they go for their own, you know, it's just so wonderful.
Dawn: [00:29:01] Yes. And it's just, you know, it's so great to be able to know that you're, you know, a part of that journey. So if you're if you're listening right now and you're a teacher, a caregiver, a nanny, a grandparent, you know, you can be a part of that, you know, feeding journey for that child. And because the way that we eat is different. I tell families all the time, like if you're putting avocado on in your baby's bowl, you may be giving plain avocado to your baby. You may add salt. You know, I may add Tabasco to it, right? You know, someone else may add pepper. Someone else may dip the the slice of avocado into Lake Ranch dressing. We all eat different ways. So as a baby is eating with different people, they are learning all about these different smells and tastes and colors and different things that make their palate become a little bit more broader and be more willing to try different foods, which can be really fun and exciting, especially if one of the parents is a picky eater. So we've had so many parents say I'm a picky eater and I don't want my kids to be picky. And so, you know, what should I do? And I'm like, We'll offer foods to your baby that you will eat with them so that they can see you model that food so they can see you try to eat that food.
Dawn: [00:30:22] Because guess what? That's their genetic material. If you eat mashed potatoes with ranch dressing, the chances that your baby's going to want to eat it that way, right? They have more of a taste preference to that. Or if that's a food that you ate throughout. Your whole entire pregnancy, it's what your baby's going to want to have mashed potatoes, so. So you know, there's that aspect to that just, you know, it's always so fun to be part of the feeding journey. And as a feeding therapist, I love that and I really I really enjoy being a role model in that journey and being able to to touch the lives of a family and a baby in a way that is going to literally sustain them nutritionally. And especially if I'm making that meal because sometimes infinite therapy, I will prepare certain foods to try, especially if a parent is overwhelmed like I don't know what foods to try, then I pair prepare it. I'm like, Oh, now I'm sharing a family recipe with you and your baby loved it. Ok, let me share you with this recipe. It's a wonderful way to be able to give back to our babies and help really throughout their development.
Bianca: [00:31:23] So beautiful as far as the sharing of recipes and just all of the color and culture that comes with food, the school that I worked at was very diverse culturally, and we had kids who had so many different things offered for their feeding experiences, and it was so beautiful to see all of the different children, you know, observing and getting in all the sense. And, you know, so it's just so wonderful and so beautiful.
Dawn: [00:31:50] Yes, I love that.
Bianca: [00:31:51] So what are your best pieces of advice for parents who are worried their babies will throw their bowls of food onto the floor?
Dawn: [00:31:58] Yes. So throwing food can be very, very frustrating, especially when you know parents have really put their heart and soul into that food. Or maybe they've come back from work and they're exhausted and they're just like, Oh, I have to make something to eat. And that could be really frustrating for them. And babies know us so well. So if we come to the table frustrated, they're already going to be a little bit irritable, right? So. So some of my best tips are is to move the high chair. So if you're if your child is facing one way and normally for eating, let's say they're facing towards the kitchen. And so they're seeing the kitchen. Well, if you just turn the high chair in a different direction now, maybe they're looking outside or looking out a window or something, sometimes just changing their visual environment will decrease the chance of them throwing. So that could be something that's very easy. Oh, they're usually on the right side of the table. Let's move them to the left side. The table very easy for a parent to be able to do that and just kind of maintain their attention and be like, Oh, this is new, this is different, right? Kids are all about something novel, right? So it's just like, let's look at the other wall, right? So it can be single. Yeah, exactly.
Dawn: [00:33:13] Simple, easy. And again, something that we can manage instead of trying to, like, grab their hand and not have them throw. This is something that we can change their environment. The other thing would just be ditching the high chair tray in general, so you can ditch the tray, move baby to the table so their plate or bowl is on the table. And then they really feel like part of the family. Sometimes, you know, the high chairs are so big and bulky. Mom's at the dining room table and babies four feet back. So just ditching the high chair tray, bringing baby to the table can be a really wonderful way to to help a baby focus on meal time. And then the last thing it'd be like is try to focus on development instead of focus on them actually throwing. Focus on what they're doing. So in my in my sessions, parents don't always have their jaw drops. If a baby throws the food, I'm just like, I like the way that you pick that food up and that mom and dad are like, Yeah, but we don't want them to throw. And I was like, Right? But now that we're going to be commenting on, Ooh, I like the way you pick that up, guess what? They're going to keep that in their hand, and then they're going to bring that
Bianca: [00:34:23] Positive reinforcement on the thing you want. Amazing.
Dawn: [00:34:26] Yeah, exactly. I'm like, Oh, you used your thumb for that? That's great. I like that. And they're like, Oh, well, I'm like, Oh, you got a Hulk? Smash that avocado. It's all over your hand now. Right? So I'm like, Oh, maybe we can lick my fingers and get that a cut off. Being able to kind of tell them what they what babies can do instead of what babies can't do is a wonderful way to bring that focus back to the development that you are looking for. I tell parents all the time, have a goal for that meal. The goal could be, I want baby to grab the food out of the bowl. I want baby to sit for 15 minutes without being distracted. I want baby to actually eat this. This recipe that was my grandma's, and I'm going to take a picture for grandma. Whatever the goal is, before you sit down to actually eat with your baby. Think about what it is that you really want to accomplish that day, and it could be so much as so as you know, my baby didn't eat at daycare, so he needs to eat two ounces of food today. Whatever the goal is, really kind of focus on that. So then it doesn't even.
Dawn: [00:35:33] Still can be irritating that your baby through something, but it's not as overwhelming. In the meantime, when we're like, yeah, he threw a few pieces of food, but he really ate grandma's recipe and I can't wait to show grandma on that picture, right? So it's being able to when we we think about that and all the cognitive skills and all the cognitive cause and effect in everything that we are observing with baby. Sometimes we lose track of all of that because of, you know, a mealtime behavior of something throwing. And really, we should just be in awe of what the baby is doing and experiencing. And sometimes when we take a step back and think about that, families are always like, you know, it is really amazing that my baby just picked up the food off of the bowl and actually brought it to their mouth. I didn't have to help out at all and like, right, it just it's just sometimes can just, you know, allow a parent to take a step back and just focus on development and and not so much as how much your baby is eating, but how your baby is eating. And that can kind of, you know, help recenter and regroup your thoughts at mealtime.
Bianca: [00:36:40] Absolutely. I love how you focused on, you know, what the baby can do and just hyper focusing on the moments that we want them to have. And that's absolutely very Montessori. So that's what we did in the classroom as well. So I just love, love, love that. So do you have any last tips for parents and educators and caregivers who are about to embark on their solid food journeys with their babies?
Dawn: [00:37:07] Yes, I would say that, especially because when we talk about bowls, usually throwing is throwing food is kind of the topic that that comes with that I would I would say one of my best tips is to have a splash mat underneath the high chair or underneath the table because, you know, sometimes if you if you don't have a clean splash underneath that, you can't reuse that food. So especially if it's something like you're offering salmon to your baby for the first time, well, that's pretty expensive. And that piece of salmon just goes flying onto the floor. Well, if you have a splash mat underneath that, you can pick up that piece of salmon and put it back on baby's plate. So that can be, especially if a family is in a rush and they can't make another piece of salmon or that they're on a budget. You know, being able to take that food and put it back onto the plate is is really a great task. The second thing is, have anyone who's watching your child if they're going to take care, if they're going to grandma's house, if the baby does not finish that meal, bring it home so that, you know, baby could try it again. Again, food is so expensive, and sometimes a baby needs to see a food a few times before they'll actually engage in it. So if you, you know, made pancakes and give it to, you know, daycare or you gave it to grandma's house and they didn't eat all the pancakes, well, guess what? They can have that again for dinner. You can warm that up and you can offer that same food, so don't be afraid to do leftovers. That's actually a really great tip for babies is that if they didn't try it at lunch, you offered it again at dinner. And sometimes seeing it the second time can really help a baby engage in that. So those are those are two tips that I think can be really successful when parents are first starting out.
Bianca: [00:39:04] Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for coming on. I loved talking to you about using a bowl, and I know that the parents and educators and caregivers in our audience are really going to benefit from this info. So thank you so much for coming on, Dawn.
Dawn: [00:39:18] Thank you so much for having me.
Bianca: [00:39:19] And that was our episode. So much good info. I know I was so stoked about this episode, so thank you so much to don for coming on our show again and to easy peasy for being our amazing sponsor. And I do want to give a huge shout out to our Montessori babies patrons. I'm having so much fun getting to know you guys and just love, love, love that I get to, you know, be an ounce of support in your journeys. So thank you so much. And for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about as far as the Montessori babies Patreon goes, I will link it down below for you so you can go ahead and check that out. And lastly, thank you so much to everyone in our community. You amazing parents and educators and caregivers. You are all so wonderful. So thanks again for tuning in to episode twenty six of our Montessori Babies podcast, and I'll get you in the next episode. Bye! Hey, it's Bianca, your baby tour guide here! Hopping back in to say thank you again for listening to this episode of Montessori babies. If you found this episode helpful and would like more information. Hop on over to Baby Tour Guide and download my three Montessori guide to join our community and receive the latest on optimizing development through a Montessori lens, you can also find me on Instagram and Facebook at Baby Tour Guide. Also, if you found this episode helpful to your Montessori practice, I would absolutely love it if you would leave a review to help other parents and educators find our show. Thanks again for listening, and I will catch you in the next episode bye!