A weaning table and chair set can create a wonderful Montessori space in your home. It is perfectly sized for your baby. You can feed them at the table and introduce them to the joy of eating while encouraging their independence and sense of self-worth. It’s an alternative to a high chair, and shows your baby that they have a special place in your home designed just for them.
Why the Montessori Approach Suggests a Weaning Table
A weaning table and chair fosters your little one’s independence, self-confidence, and competency. The table and chair are purposefully made for your baby’s size and honor their dignity by meeting them right where they are. While the high chair allows your little one to participate in family meals, it is too large for them to climb in and out of on their own. They have to be lifted in and out of it, and can’t participate in setting their place or cleaning up after themselves. It’s not designed with their needs or abilities in mind. By giving your little one a place to eat that suits their size and capability, you give them a sense of ownership over their own life.
What’s the connection between “weaning” and a table? When a baby is nursing or bottle-feeding, and taking baby milk as their sole source of nutrients, they don’t make any choice or exercise control over what they eat. As they wean (which could be a short period of time or a very long one!) they integrate a variety of food into their diets, and begin for the first time to make selection and have preferences.
When To Introduce The Weaning Table
You will want to wait until your baby is sitting up comfortably on their own before placing them in the weaning chair. If they are still slouching over or tipping to one side, it can be uncomfortable to try to eat, and also a little scary if they find themselves face planting in their food! This milestone usually occurs around 6-7 months. Once you see that they can sit up well, and you are ready to feed them solid food, you can introduce the table and chair.
If you have a small living space, a child-sized table is also a place to present Montessori toys or other materials that a child can focus on. Otherwise, it’s ideal to have a table for eating and a different one in the play area.
How Do We Introduce The Weaning Table?
The kitchen is usually the best place to put the table and chair. You may want to put a small square of rubber carpet pad on the seat so your little one does not slip. Prepare the food and place it on the table. Invite your little one to the chair with slow and gentle language so that they are comfortable with the new furniture. “This is your table and chair where you will eat your food.”
If they can already crawl, they may crawl to the chair and attempt to climb in on their own. If they cannot crawl yet, then you can lift them in the chair and slide it under the table. You may sit on the floor next to them, or you may have a stool that you can pull up to the table. When they are situated and comfortable, you can begin spooning the food into their mouth. You will want to be sensitive to their cues so you can respond to their appetite and curiosity about this new experience. Do not feed them too quickly or try to convince them to eat if they are looking away and telling you they are finished. It is important that they learn to trust their own bodies and appetites, and that they develop a mindful and intentional relationship with food. If they want to grab the spoon, you can help them guide the spoon to their mouth so they can be active participants in their feeding. When they are finished, you can clear the table and let them watch you carefully wipe down the surfaces. All of these actions are invitations to participate in the mealtime routines when they are ready.
Tips for Integrating the Weaning Table Into Your Routines
As your baby eats more solid food, they will spend more time at the weaning table. You will decide in your own family how often your little one eats at their table and how often they sit at the family table.
- You may find that the weaning table is where your little one sits for breakfast and snacks, and that they join you at the family table for lunch and dinner.
- You also may join them at their table when it is just the two of you eating.
- When they start to feed themselves finger food, you can use a child-size dining set to serve them. Likewise, you can always offer them a small cup of water.
- When it is time to eat, you can invite them to the table and they can crawl into their chair themselves.
- When they are walking, they can easily set and clear their own table.
- In fact, babies who cannot even walk yet will pull up to stand and wipe down their table with a small sponge! This introduction into eating and the routines around meals is accessible and supports their development through these first years.
- Show your baby how you are selecting toys from your shelf and placing them on the table. When they want to leave the table, model placing the toy back on the shelf. They will imitate this habit as they grow older.
- Bringing the child’s toys to the table supports their practice of concentrating on one thing at a time, which builds up their attention span and tendency to persist in the face of a challenge. Learn more about why this is so critical in the first three years of life from Monti Kids founder Zahra Kassam’s TEDx Talk. Once your baby is walking and can carry objects with two hands, a work table is a nice thing to have.
One of the most beautiful elements of this experience is how your little one will develop in competency and ownership.
The Weaning Table and Chair will serve your baby’s development from their first experiences with solid food through their toddler years. This set allows your little one to fully participate in the eating experience, and builds their confidence and independence. It encourages a positive relationship to food because of the control and thoughtfulness it offers your child. And it gives them a special place to play or eat designed just for them!