Category Archives: Weaning

What are we learning at 18 months

“Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment.” (Maria Montessori)

S and I have been doing alot of activities that require concentration lately. Besides working with the purposeful educational toys we do alot of activities that can easily be set up at home at close to zero cost.

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this develops concentration, hand-eye coordination, we are using pipe cleaners and colander

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We are using pigs and a chocolate tin for this activity. S is immensely engaged whilst developing a number of skills through this learning experience.

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This has to be one of our favorites at the moment. I find such activities to be hugely popular by young children. Photos speak a thousand words here. So much learning is being unfolded as the child explores each item of the treasure basket. I sometimes just sit back and watch S as she eagerly opens each bag to find the treasure hidden inside. It is fascinating to watch her enthusiasm and the amount of effort she puts in to overcome the difficulties.

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we are learning to peel an egg, slice it with the “egg slicer” and eat it.

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Soon I will write a post about gardening and how it helps the young child to learn about our mother earth and sustainability. All we do at the moment is watering our winter veges and daffodils. We are in a middle of a cold and wet winter, very much looking forward to spring so we can get out more often and plant some more veges. I have done a course on composting and that will also be next on our to do list.

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learning to use tongs, transferring activity and at snack table.

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Weaning table must be one of the best pieces of furniture we bought for S. I can not imagine not having it. She sits there and enjoys having her food in peace. She goes to the fridge, chooses what she likes to eat, and takes it to her low table and has it for snack. It is the most enjoyable thing to watch. I find it so reassuring that she is able to identify her needs (hunger in this instance) and find appropriate ways to meet them. I believe this gives her a strong feeling of security and belonging. When she is finished she cleans up after herself. It is so rewarding to see how an 18 months old is so capable and I am so pleased that our prepared environment allows this natural learning to unfold.

how is the weaning table working for us?

S is now 13 months old, we have moved the weaning table to a new spot where it is safe and secure and can not be moved. I am very amazed that it is working so well for us. As soon as S sees me preparing food for her she crawls to the table and starts getting herself up against the chair and she manages to sit independently on the chair waiting impatiently for her food to arrive.

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I usually leave some snack on the table for S to help herself to during the day, I still pour water for her but she can independently pick up the glass, hold it, and drink it. with the containers I leave the lids open so she can get her snack with minimal help from me.

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I use this draw ( it is the bottom one) to keep the plates, cutleries, glasses, placemats, and bibs. Once S can walk properly she will be helping to set up the table. For now, she only explores the draw and takes the items in and out while I am doing my things in the kitchen.

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Weaning

“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).

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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.

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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.

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To sum up, watch this video that says it all:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRQFWBzsRB8