In our Montessori home, we have introduced solid foods to our twins through baby-led weaning. Baby-led weaning is an approach to starting solids that gives children the opportunity to self-feed as opposed to the more traditional method of spoon-feeding by the adult. It is no surprise that a baby at 6 months of age will get quite messy if given the chance to feed themselves. However, I have found that it makes for a sensory-rich experience that improves with time! I’ll share with you the baby-led weaning essentials that we have in our Montessori home.
Why Baby-Led Weaning and Montessori Align Perfectly
Baby-led weaning and Montessori have one huge thing in common, following the child. In Montessori, as the adult, we can guide and prepare things for our children, but then the child is the one to act and engage with their environment. Baby-led weaning reflects this Montessori principle. It puts the child in the driver’s seat, so to speak, of their eating journey. We can offer them a diet with a variety of flavors and textures, but at the end of the day, they will be the ones to decide what goes into their mouths. I know, I know, that sounds crazy because it can be hard to not be in control, but it is truly what is best for the child.
Supplies and Materials for Starting Solids the Montessori Way
There are a few supplies and materials that will help support your child as they begin their feeding journey. I am going to share what we have used in our home based on what seems to meet our needs as well as what had been recommended by other Montessori moms I know.
I’m a big supporter of the Tripp Trapp High Chair. I like this chair for many different reasons, but the main benefit I see is how it brings the child right up to our family kitchen table! The small footprint it has in our home is ideal. I was aware of not having too many baby items, which is actually quite easy to do in a Montessori home.
The Tripp Trap chair grows with the child. The footrest can be moved down, which will allow your child to eventually climb right up into their chair independently. You can purchase an attachable tray, however, we did not do this. The Tripp Trapp chair is made of quality material and so easy to wipe down after meals.
During the newborn stages, I had newborn attachments which was my go-to way to have the twins with me in the kitchen while I was making dinner!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure here.
A very common Montessori weaning material is the Montessori weaning table. I did not invest in this yet, however, I do want to. The Montessori weaning table and chair that is very low to the ground. A young child, even around 6 months old, would be able to sit in the chair at the table to begin their feeding journey. The Montessori weaning table from Sprout is a great option because it has adjustable legs and seat height of the chair, allowing the table and chair to grow with the child.
Having the appropriate dishes when introducing solids to a young baby is important. We opted to have the Ez Pz Tiny Bowl, which suctions to the table and is made of 100% silicone.
Learning how to drink from an open cup is a skill you can begin with your baby around 6 months of age, or whenever they are showing the readiness signs of starting solids. We used the Ezpz Tiny Cup which is perfect to begin using at 6 months. This cup is designed to be the perfect fit for a baby’s hands and mouth. I like that the silicone is a gentle material for baby’s gums and teeth. The cup is weighted at the base and has tactile bumps which helps it from toppling over, supporting their independence over time.
With baby-led weaning you are not spoon-feeding your baby, however, you can offer pureed foods such as yogurt, and applesauce on a pre-loaded spoon. We have loved using the Ezpz tiny spoon. The spoon has a chunky handle which makes it really easy for the baby to grasp. These spoons are made of 100% silicone.
You can get the entire ezpz tiny collection to begin your feeding journey. All of these feeding tools aid in the baby’s success in feeding. By having a suction bowl, the child will be able to independently grasp food from their bowl without it moving and sliding on the table. The cup is designed by a feeding specialist to support the baby who is beginning to work on this skill. The spoons make self-feeding much easier for the baby because the spoon handle fits right in their little hand.
The BapronBaby Bib is highly recommended by many baby-led weaning experts. It is a longer bib that with make a little pouch in their lap to help catch food. The Bapron ties in the back. I have also liked silicone bibs. They wash off very easily, don’t get stained, and are easy to put on and off.
The most ideal Montessori baby bib would allow for the child to put it on themselves, which neither of these other options allows for. However, there is a real Montessori baby bib! You could hang this on a low hook by your feeding area, and at a certain point, your baby would be able to go get their bib and put it on themselves.
I have found a small glass or stainless steel pitcher to be a wonderful addition to the feeding experience. We can model how to pour liquids from a pitcher from the beginning of the feeding experience, even before our babies will be able to do this for themselves. The modeling it so important! Then, at a certain point, we can show the young toddlers how to do this for themselves.
After every meal, I find that wiping down a baby’s hands and face is a great moment for connection. I like to use these soft muslin washcloths, run them under warm water, and wipe my baby all clean! I find it helpful to keep a stash of these washcloths in the kitchen for cleaning up after meals.
A Montessori Mindset with Starting Solids
If you are looking to implement more Montessori principles in your home and don’t know where to start, here are a few mindset shifts you can consider when it comes to how you will begin introducing solid foods to your baby.
We can prepare food safely and offer a wide variety of flavors and textures to our baby. By offering this variety we are giving our baby the best chance at developing a diverse flavor palette as well as great sensorial experiences!
While your baby is experiencing new foods you can observe them. How do they respond when they put food into their mouth? Do they show they like something? How are they communicating if they dislike something? How have their eating abilities changed over time?
We want to help our children develop a healthy relationship with food. It is our job to prepare and offer food, and the baby’s job is to choose what they eat. We have “power” in what we offer them and they have control over what they put into their mouth. We don’t need to play silly games to get them to eat or trick them into eating something. Allow them to explore and experience these new flavors and textures in their own way.
There are so many opportunities for communication and language development during the feeding experience. It can be a time to model conversation, use baby signs, and speak rich vocabulary!
Allow for the sensorial experience of food
Introducing food is a great sensorial experience for a baby. Especially in the beginning, they may eat very little, however, this is totally normal and to be expected. Over time they will get better at actually consuming food. Just keep in mind that for the first year of life, their main source of nutrients is still coming from either breastmilk or formula.
Responsive feeding cues
Responsive feeding is responding to what our baby is showing us. They may push something away, get excited when they see food, or drop something out of their hands. I was blown away by the way my baby was communicating with me without saying anything!
I remember so vividly when I handed my son a chicken drumstick and he grabbed it, moved his hand out and off the side of his high chair, and dropped it. Once again I offered him the chicken thinking maybe he just didn’t grab it well. Nope! He did it again. Clearly, he was done trying chicken and that was his way of telling me. We can respect our children by honoring these cues that they are giving us.