Why You Should Let your Baby Be a Messy Eater

Why You Should Let your Baby Be a Messy EaterFor neat freak parents everywhere, this one’s going to be a challenge. Research shows and experts say that making a mess during mealtimes is a good way for babies to learn. Having a fun and enjoyable experience while eating, even if it creates a mess, may serve your baby well when it comes to learning, sensory development and enjoying food. Today we’re dishing out 4 reasons why you should let your baby be a messy eater.

Reason #1: Mealtime Should be Fun

You may have been taught not to play with your food as a kid, but the theory has changed. Kids have fun making messes as they use their hands to explore objects. When those objects are foods, things can get a bit messy, sticky, gooey, smeary, grimy and yes, food can get everywhere. But this discovery process is a blast and brings positive association to food and mealtimes. Messy eaters may even be less picky eaters in the long run because they have the freedom to manipulate foods and taste them as they please. Also, the sacred family mealtime should not be a struggle, but rather a feel-good experience for all. And let’s face it, as a kid playing with your food just feels good.

Reason #2: A Sensory Experience

While your baby is making that ooey, gooey, icky mess, he’s feeling a variety of textures. He’ll feel it on his hands as he sloshes it around on his high chair tray. He’ll feel it on his lips and mouth as he tries to feed himself. He’ll feel it on his face when pieces end up on his cheeks, chin, ears, hair and goodness knows where else! It’s important for children to feel comfortable being messy, and to cope with different textures whether it’s smooth, hard, crunchy, sticky or chunky. All of these sensory experiences are great for a baby’s development.

Reason #3: Improved Identification

A study published in Developmental Science shows that babies who are messy eaters and are permitted to play with their food have an easier time identifying nonsolid food items. When you think about it, this should be no surprise. Interactive play teaches children of all ages many lessons. The same can be said of food. This research also found that sitting in a high chair improved learning as well. Making a mess while eating can, over time, impact cognitive development.

Reason #4: Fosters Independence

Eventually all babies need to learn to eat on their own. Allowing your baby to practice is going to be messy. But as we all know, you get better with practice so a little mess for the greater goal of independent eating is a sacrifice all OCD parents should make. Do your best not to wipe your baby’s hands, face and tray until the end of the meal. As long as your baby is working on the skill of putting food in his mouth, it’s all worth the mess.

Sources: Huffington Post and Your Kids Table