Let Them Make Messes

O.K. so easy for me to say.  My kids are no longer babies and I no longer clean up puree from he floor, the table, my shirt and the kids’ hair.  But babies and toddlers need to feed themselves and play with their food.  Honestly this is part of their development. 

Aren’t there always messes being a parent?  For me there’s now more non-food clean up such as mud (including occassional dog poop on shoes), dirt, paint, glitter, glue, etc.  Although we still make messes with colored sugars (making cookies), cherry pits (remember my pitting experiences) and spills (usually milk).  However looking back I’d take the first food messes any day. In fact some times I would strip my kids down to a diaper to eat something messy (my daughter and soup), so they could have fun and do it themselves.  Then it was bath or hose down time after, of course.

I have friends who think nothing of letting their children draw and paint at the  kitchen or even dining room table, but will not give their toddler a spoon and let them feed themself.  Why?  Isn’t this what hardwood and laminate floors are for?  Or how about a splat mat?  I’m not saying there shouldn’t be rules with food and drink.  I always like “Food stays in the kitchen or dining area and you eat it in a high or other safe chair”.  I didn’t grow up running all over the house with food and cups (sippy or otherwise).  Choose what works for you, but I’m asking you to try to indulge your child.  Why?  Because they… 

1. want control

2. are testing cause and effect

3. need to develop

4. are learning independence 

5. want you to react

6. are testing boundaries

7. think it’s fun

8. won’t get a date (or into preschool) with you hand feeding them

9. will gain positive eating eating habits

10. need help to gain confidence

Here’s a few of my messy faced babes back in the day.  When I was looking for photos I remembered it really was my daughter who liked mess with food (and anything).  My son was never big on getting messy.  Some kids don’t like the feeling of stuff (be it food, sand, whatever) on their hands.  He had his moments.  I remember with oatmeal (but can’t find the pic).  But here’s a few of my gal.

Wow! So this is puree.
My nose can eat it too!
look no sippy cup!
first b-day