As parents, we all want our children to grow up healthy, independent, and happy. One of the essential skills that we can teach our little ones is how to feed themselves. By empowering them to do so, we're not only fostering their independence, but we're also helping them develop life skills and a love for healthy eating.
Montessori-inspired eating is a fantastic way to encourage children to feed themselves. The Montessori method is all about child-led learning, where children are given the freedom to explore and discover things at their own pace. This approach can be applied to eating as well. Here are some tips on how to encourage your little ones to feed themselves with a Montessori-inspired approach:
Involve your child in meal preparation
Children are more likely to eat something they've helped prepare. Involve your child in meal preparation by letting them help you choose ingredients, wash vegetables, and mix ingredients. This involvement creates a sense of ownership and encourages them to try new things.
Let your child serve themselves
Letting your child serve themselves is an excellent way to encourage independence. You can provide them with small utensils and bowls and let them serve themselves. This process also helps develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Offer a variety of foods
Offering a variety of foods can help your child develop a love for healthy eating. Try to include a mix of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains in your meals. When children are exposed to different tastes and textures, they're more likely to try new things.
Encourage your child to eat slowly
Eating slowly is an essential life skill that helps promote healthy digestion. Encourage your child to take their time and savour each bite. Eating slowly also helps them recognise when they're full, reducing the likelihood of overeating.
Eat together as a family
Eating together as a family is an excellent way to foster a love for wholesome family dinners. When children see their parents and siblings enjoying a meal together, they're more likely to feel included and motivated to try new foods.
The benefits of Montessori-inspired eating:
- Independence: When children are allowed to serve themselves, they gain a sense of independence and control over their choices. This can help build their self-esteem and confidence.
- Fine motor skills: Using small utensils and bowls to serve themselves helps develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. These skills will be beneficial in other areas of their life as well.
- Healthy eating habits: By offering a variety of foods, children are exposed to different tastes and textures, which can help them develop a love for healthy eating. When children are involved in meal preparation, they're more likely to be invested in the food and willing to try new things.
- Social skills: Eating together as a family promotes social skills such as communication, listening, and sharing. It also encourages positive family dynamics and strengthens relationships.
- Mindfulness: Encouraging children to eat slowly and savor each bite helps promote mindfulness and healthy digestion. This skill can also help with regulating emotions and reducing stress.
As you incorporate these practices into your family routines, remember to be patient and let your child explore and discover their tastes and preferences. With time and practice, they'll develop the confidence and independence to feed themselves with ease. By empowering them to feed themselves with a Montessori-inspired approach, you're not only helping them develop essential life skills, but you're also promoting a love for healthy eating from wholesome family dinners.
My go-to Baby Led Weaning Recipe which is great for any family dinner:
Tuna Fish Cakes:
- 2 cans of tuna (I use a jar of the good fish Tuna)
- 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 cup capers (optional)
- 1/2 cup coriander (optional)
- 1/2 cup spring onions (optional)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup hemp seeds
- pinch of salt
- Cook the cubed potatoes in a pot of boiling water until they are tender. Drain and mash them in a mixing bowl.
- Add the tuna, capers, coriander, spring onions (all diced small, especially for fussy eaters!) lemon juice and salt to the mixing bowl. Mix everything together well.
- Use your hands to form the mixture into 6-8 small patties.
- Coat with hemp seeds for bread crumbs.
- Fry in either ghee or coconut oil, cooking for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
- Use a spatula to transfer the fish cakes to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
- Serve the tuna and potato fish cakes warm with kids favourite greens and avocado.
- They can be stored in fridge for 3 days after cooking or make extra and leave in freezer for go-to kids meals on those rush afternoon days!
Keep Your Light Shining,