Self Feeding

Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.

There is a photo in my dining room that has pride of place. This is a picture of the sixth of my 12 children, Aaron, ensconced in his high chair, wearing a shower cap with his face covered in plain yogurt. He has a big grin on his face, or at least, what you can see of his face. He's holding out his spoon to the camera, offering the cameraman (my husband) a spoonful of the white stuff.

Protective measures

I had long ago learned how to relax about the mess involved with granting a toddler a measure of independence during mealtime. I took some protective measures, such as the aforementioned shower cap, which kept their hair from getting full of yucky, sticky food, and I had a large plastic sheet that I placed under the high chair, then under the booster seat equipped dining room chair, when my babies graduated to the dining room table. Bibs were a foregone conclusion. I liked cloth, and I always had several of them on hand so that I didn't have to reuse them too much. Cleanup was not too bad. I'd scrape what I could off the high chair tray with a napkin or paper towel, then dip his hands into a bowl of warm water. Then I'd wet my hands in the bowl and wipe his face with my hands, dipping into the bowl when necessary, until the baby's face was food free. Then I'd wipe down his face and hand with a towel.

At that point, I'd carefully remove the shower cap and lift the baby out of the high chair or booster seat. I'd place the baby on the floor, and then move the highchair off the mat. I'd roll the mat up, take it outside and give it a shake, then rinse it off in the shower. Then I'd lay the mat over the shower rail.

Next, I'd wipe down the highchair tray with a soapy sponge, and then wipe it with a clean rag. I'd look over the legs and upholstery of the highchair and spot clean as necessary.

No big deal

Once I developed this routine, letting my babies feed themselves was no big deal. I let them have their way with guacamole, applesauce, risotto, and pasta. Feeling tense about the mess would have been counterproductive and made my babies unhappy about the struggle for independence. The big smile Aaron sports in that photo is proof that my babies found feeding themselves a creative release!

For more information check out our pregnancy and child care videos.