Tips for a Cleaner Meal

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Baby food is delicious for babies and exciting for parents. It is also a huge mess until baby learns to eat neatly – and some never do. Help keep mealtime only marginally messy with a few tips for a cleaner meal.

Time Meals Correctly

If you wait to feed your baby when he is exhausted, you’re going to have a mess on your hands. Feed your baby when he’s well rested and you won’t have to deal with little fists full of carrots rubbing tired little eyes and pulling at dirty little ears. A rested baby is also more likely to play along with his little bird act and open wide and enjoy more at a meal than a tired baby who is more interested in a bottle and bed.

Cover Up

To keep your floors clean, put down a large plastic mat or a towel under the high chair. To keep your baby clean, use a bib to cover his top half and then tuck a burp cloth or blanket around his middle and legs. This should keep all splatters, spits and spills contained to the coverage. When the meal is finished, wipe his face and hands, remove the covers and hopefully you’ll reveal a fresh clean little boy underneath.

Provide Distraction

Sometimes a bit of entertainment helps keep your baby focused on the meal rather than exploring the food in his mouth. Sing him a song or make faces as your spoon in the food. Just be careful you’re not too entertaining – you must just wind up with a face full of food courtesy of a big laugh.

Give Baby a Spoon

Chances are good that your baby will want the spoon. This is a great thing developmentally, but a terrible thing if you’re trying to keep an inch of him free from baby food splatters and spills. To solve the problem, simply offer him his very own spoon. Now he can wave it, bite it and bang it to his hearts content while you continue the meal.

Introduce Finger Foods

Letting your baby focus on his own skills and food may be a way to keep his attention on the meal and his fingers out of his mouth. Place a cracker on his tray (and later small bites of finger foods.) He’ll likely examine the cracker before picking it up and trying out a bite. He can gnaw on the cracker in between bites of baby food. Gently push the cracker aside as you spoon in a bite and trust that it will return to his mouth almost immediately. Of course you’ll want to pick a finger food that doesn’t make a huge mess either.

Take it Slow

Finally, you’ll want to take your time with the meal. There should be no rush at meal times and you don’t want to overload your spoon and risk drips and spills. Offer small bites, wait to wipe up any overflow, and then wait to offer the next bite only when he opens his mouth to accept it. Not only does this keep the meal cleaner, it also builds trust at mealtimes as you’re not forcing food into his mouth, but waiting for him to tell you he wants it.

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