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Niche Topics (Pregnancy and Kids) is all about practical parenting advice and parenting skills to help you deal with common parenting challenges from toddlerhood to teen years. You’ll find tons of healthy food ideas and easy-to-make kids meals, fun activity ideas and creative crafts projects that kids love to do and play!

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How to Handle Messy Eaters



By Martha Sanders


Feeding a baby on solids can be fun – messy cute little face, spitting up, spilling, and food everywhere on the floor – but watching your child cover everything in food can sometimes drive a parent crazy. There’s no doubt about it, babies are messy eaters and especially so the first time they’re introduced to solids. After all, solids are aliens and scary to junior, and not to mention that funny, strange-looking implement called spoon!


What You Can Do to Cope with Messy Eaters

1. Schedule feedings during family meals to make eating pleasurable. Or, if your baby is easily distracted, pick a quiet time when you can focus on feeding your baby. However, keep in mind that as your baby gets older, he may want to eat with the rest of the family.



2. Avoid wearing something you want to keep clean, and make sure you are not on your favorite carpet. Trust me, you never know where his food may end up! Protect the floor area around your baby's high chair with a high chair splash mat, or improvise with any wipe-clean material such as shower curtain or liner, or even old newspapers.



3. Use a plastic bib with an easy-to-clean surface and a bottom pocket to catch spills. Plastic bibs are easy to clean and dry quickly – just wipe the bib or wash with mild soap, and let dry.


Furthermore, if your baby spills liquids, he won’t get as wet as with a cloth bib. If you don’t have a plastic bib, try covering your baby up from neck to toe with a baby blanket or burp cloth. Here’s what you can do – tuck in the blanket as if it were a giant dinner napkin, and then at the end of the meal, remove the dirty blanket away to reveal a clean baby underneath.


And, if the weather permits, you can always feed your messy eater with no clothes on!



4. Invest in a good quality highchair. Highchair makes feeding easier with your baby sitting at the caregiver’s height. In addition, it allows your baby to interact with the rest of the family during mealtime.


Look for a sturdy highchair with a harness device to keep baby sitting safely and securely. To train your baby get used to the idea of being in a highchair, put him in a high chair at mealtimes (even if you are not feeding), give him a plastic spoon and a bowl to play with.



5. Talking about feeding spoons, look for long contoured handle that provides you with a comfortable secure hold. A slim design makes it easy to feed your baby and also easier for your baby to mouth all the food from the spoon. Make sure the spoon tip is soft to protect baby teeth and gums. You might also want to consider heat sensitive baby spoons with a temp sensor.


If your baby keeps pushing the feeding bowl or tray off the high chair, buy feeding bowls with suction-cup bottoms. Bowls are preferred because food in plates get pushed off easily.



6. This may look silly but it’s definitely worth the effort – feed yourself in front of your baby but in an exaggerated way. Playfully open your mouth wide, put a spoonful of baby's food into your mouth and with big wide eyes, overreact your expression with “mmmm.....yummy!”


Let your baby watch how much you enjoyed his food, and mimic. Once your baby opens his mouth, put the spoon in. As you place a spoonful in you baby’s mouth, gently lift the spoon upwards to allow the upper lid to sweep off the food. If he grabs the spoon in your hand, give him one to hold on his own, so you get to keep yours.



7. Relax and be comfortable; try not to show your anxiety or frustration when you’re trying to feed your baby. Yes, food flings everywhere but always keep a smile on your face (even if mashed bananas end up in your face or hair). If you’ve no luck today, don’t push it, just try again tomorrow.



8. Like us, babies do get bored with foods. Try to rotate the menu. Add more variety in what you serve and how you serve to interest your baby.  If you find limited variety in jarred baby food, I suggest you make your own baby food. You've more control over the ingredients used and save tons of money.



With these helpful hints in mind, you can help messy eater enjoy his food and stay clean!



how to deal with messy eaters kids

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