“Now we have in front of us the most important guest we can have at our table, the human being we conceived and are helping to progress in human relationships and towards independence” (Silvana Montanaro).
Weaning is the beginning point in the development of a new relationship between mother and child and the environment. Before that in the prenatal life mother and child were connected through umbilical cord giving the fetus the food it needed to grow. After birth, this relationship was continued through breastfeeding, mother and child still very much physically attached. Now at about 5 months of age, the infant receives food from a person sitting in front of her.
A low table and a low chair is used for this purpose and the food is placed in front of the child so she can have a clear view of what is being offered to her. At the beginning, food should only be brought to the child’s mouth, allowing her to open her mouth, never forcing it in. Infants should feel they are in control of their body-openning from the start and that food is a pleasurable experience. This process is the beginning of detachment between mother and child and start of a new relationship with the environment. This is a new physical and psychological experience for the child.
Since Baby S was about three and half months old I started introducing fresh seasonal fruit juice such as pear, apple, grapes juice, one or two teaspoon every other day. I sat her on my husband’s lap and brought the weaning spoon to her mouth. I let her open her mouth and gently allowed her to taste the liquid with her tongue . This was just to help S to get familiar with some new tastes other than breatmilk. At about 4 and half I started giving her small pieces of bread just to practice chewing (big enough to hold bit not small as it can be a choking hazard). Now at age 5 and half months, I am going to slowly add puree food to her daily feeding. For this reason, I have set up a weaning table for her.
We bought a chair low enough for S so she can independently crawl in and out of when she becomes mobile. The chair has got armrest to support her when sitting and it’s height can be adjusted as she grows. We bought a side table and got the legs trimmed to make it to the height we need (should be lower than kid’s table, suitable for infants, our is 35cm high and the chair is 23cm high). I sew some child-size placemats (my first attempt at sewing wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be) and bought small cutleries, cups, and plates (infants like consistency therefore I bought a few of each item in case one gets broken or is in wash).
The cup is real glass (shot glass) and is small enough for S’s little hands, easy for her to grab and hold. Yes, it is real glass, no it does not put her in any danger. First because she will be supervised while eating, second even if she drops it she learns the consequence which she won’t know with a plastic cup. The plates are ceramic and plain white making it easy for the child to see what is inside the plate. Cutleries are good quality and light, child-size, the spoons and forks should be smaller than normal teaspoon.
This is our weaning setting for Baby S. I have also purchased a highchair (in Montessori community it is referred to as a junior chair). The difference is, it is used at the dinning table so it does not come with a tray. It also has a foot rest which is adjustable and can later be used as a step to climb up. It is a form of high chair that allows independence for toddlers. We will only be using it on occasions when we want S to be present at the dinner table with us mostly on the weekends. But we will be using the weaning table for majority of the time.
To sum up, watch this video that says it all: