What is a Montessori Weaning Table?
What is a weaning table?
A weaning table is a child sized table and chair aimed for babies and toddlers to begin their first experiences eating solid foods.
It is designed for their height and size, as well as their imbalance so that they cannot fall out of the chair.
Montessori is all about creating an environment that is tailored to the child so they have the opportunity to begin learning life skills right from the start.
This often means equipping your home with child-sized furniture such as a weaning table. This set-up helps your child foster independence and self-confidence from an early age.
A Weaning Table allows for :
– Ability to Start Table Manners
– Workspace at Their Height
How does a weaning table promote all this independence?
It allows the child the ability to get in and out of the chair on their own, giving them the opportunity to have control over their situation (with your guidance).
As they become a toddler this develops into multiple opportunities to work on self-control.
The first big one being learning to set their own table with place-mat, utensils,cup, and vase with flowers.
More opportunities for gaining independence and working on their self control is with setting up for other activities at the weaning table. They will master the pattern of:
- picking material tray up
- carrying tray/materials to table
- carefully setting them on table
- gently scooting chair out/in
Weaning tables are a great resource for doing other activities with your child since the table is at their height.
Other activities you can do at the weaning table can be:
- Flower arranging
- Glue crafts
- Meal prep
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What Age Can You Start Using a Weaning Table?
This depends on the child and when they are able to sit up well.
Essentially, good neck muscle strength to support their head is the important part.
This is important for starting solids no matter where they sit.
Weaning chairs are designed so that even if they don’t have perfect balance sitting up yet they won’t fall out of the chair.
For us, our little one had really good core strength early on and we were able to introduce the weaning table at 6 months old. He loved it! I often would sit his weaning table with him and enjoy meals with him at his level.
* Bonus Tips – If interested in Montessori High Chair options scroll down to bottom of article!
Types of Weaning Tables
These tables are great for being multipurpose and growing with your child.
When in table and chairs mode they are great for young children to eat at, or use for other activities.
As seen in photo, they can be used as a reading bench and side tables later down the track in your child’s toddler years.
If you click on the photo you can see the variety of ways you can turn the table and chairs to get many years of function out of them ( #momwin ).
✻ Related Post : Montessori at Home with 6 Month Old
Small Table with Chairs
If you have a small table already, but just need the chairs suited to your child’s size, these from ERC4kids work great.
Often you can find a second hand kids table that you can modify the leg height pair with weaning chairs to create your weaning table area.
I’m all about trying to keep things budget friendly, and buying a whole set can be out of budget. The chairs are the tricky part to make (from experience).
Sprout Kids also have a good weaning and table set, you can get a discount if you use MontiKids code from their info page on weaning tables.
How We Built Our Montessori Weaning Table in Australia
Depending on where you live will determine how easy it is to get your hands on a weaning table. Often you can find them secondhand on Facebook marketplace 2nd hand or you can buy them online.
Sometimes that just doesn’t work out. Maybe it’s budget. Maybe it’s availability.
This was the case for us, so we got out the drills and built our own. We used one piece of Golden Oiled Hardwood Acacia Panel from Bunnings and one piece of timber for the legs (cut into 4 pieces) to build our weaning table. We built the whole thing in one evening. Half of the board made the table and the other half made the chair.
I plan to write about how we built it, so keep a look out!
How We Started Using Weaning Table with our Baby
Baby Led Weaning & Weaning Table
After being a nanny for some years and watching family kids grow up I knew I want to go with baby led weaning when it came to introducing solids.
I’m not saying I didn’t puree anything, I wasn’t a hardcore BLW parent, but the main principle we went with for feeding our little guy was baby led weaning.
If you are not familiar with baby led weaning, here is a great resource for learning about baby led weaning (which really just means self feeding from the start).
Baby led weaning works very well with Montessori and the use of a weaning table.
It prevented the baby game of throwing food off a highchair, and it sort of kept any mess that occurred more contained. Which as a parent was a win-win!
How Did We Serve Meals on Weaning Table?
Much like how I plated up our meals, I would take a little bit of everything we were having for a meal and put smaller portion on a small ceramic plate for our 6 month old.
I made sure the portions were cut as to not be a choking hazard for him so he could freely eat as he pleased.
I also would pour him water into a shotglass for him to drink with his meals. Perfect sized glass for his little hands.
As you can see in photo above things were not perfect every time.
In this photo the shotglass was in the dishwasher so we used a Munchkin cup someone gifted us as a back up.
It is not about perfection, it is about giving your child the opportunity to learn to do things for themselves from the start. A phrase often tossed around in Montessori is :
“Help me to do it myself”Maria Montessori
When Did We Start Using Utensils with Baby?
We made a spoon available to the little fella right away at 6 months old. This gave him the opportunity to practice with it when he wanted and become familiar with the cutlery.
I would say he began to imitate us and use it more effectively around 8-10 months old. This is when we also introduced a fork.
By around 1 year old he was fairly efficient at using a spoon & fork. Liquids, like cereal, still had mishaps when he wasn’t staying focused.
Honestly though, he preferred to use cutlery by this point, if it wasn’t available he would point to our forks to use them instead.
Children like to do what we do, so if we are using cutlery than they want to do the same. It is a life skill and they want to master it once they see it being used.
If you are looking for a complete set of child-sized cutlery, cup, and plate this complete stainless steel child set is a fantastic option, if I were starting over this is what I would have bought in the beginning. Finding all the pieces separately was a bit tricky and costed me more in shipping by the end of it.
How Long Does Weaning Table Last?
Years! That is the great part about a weaning table and why they are so worth the investment. A good weaning table should last you through all of your children’s early childhood.
They can be used for meals, crafts, and area for cooking at child height. Multi-purpose and multi-aged. With easy minor adjustments they can increase in height as your child grows.
If anyone is interested, we chose to use a B.Box straw cup as his water bottle at this young age.
It was the most durable, wasn’t a “sippy” cup which isn’t recommended by professionals, and he drinks heaps of water whenever he wants using it. Its great for in the car, in his room, on the go, etc..
This table is still going strong 3 years later and in unison with our second child.
It is mainly used at morning and lunch meals, and for any activities we do that require a table.
I sat with him at the table while giving baby a milk feed.
That baby above is now an early toddler and using it.
His older brother finds the chair a bit uncomfortable (bit small), so we are working on building a different sized one soon. He enjoys sitting in his Aldi “tripp-trapp like” high chair now at the big table for meals.
We got a new table that is white, and found Aldi high chair that is like a tripp-trapp just as good. Getting two matching tripp trapps can be a challenge sometimes.
Get grandparents involved too if you want. Trying to promote consistency with your kids is great, but also they might find it more useful than getting a high chair as it can serve dual purposes.
Our kids grandparents love having a kids table for all the grandkids to keep all the food in one place. They sometime move the table around, but it’s theirs to make the rules with. Don’t have too high of expectations when at others homes, kids will have to learn different places have different house rules.
Montessori Alternatives to Weaning Table
Maybe you aren’t interested in having a weaning table for a variety of reasons.
Maybe you want to also have an option for your child to sit up at the dining table with your family.
What other alternatives are out there for eating that follow the Montessori principles?
There are still some great options available for those who want their child up at the family dining table.
These options are great for growing with your child and allowing them more independence as they get older for getting up/down to the table themselves as they become toddlers.
Notice in the photo above how baby is eating off the dining table just like parents?
This would be the type of high chair that could suit as an alternative to a weaning table.
Using a plate and a cup would be the only things that would also be included in this photo if you wanted to utilize Montessori methods.
Montessori High Chair Options | Top 3 Picks
The company Stokke offers a high chair that can be used up to the dining table. I used this highchair with a set of twins I nannied from about 8 months old, as well as my own little fella has uses this chair up at our table now that I have found one recently second hand.
They are great chairs with MANY raving positive reviews. Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair allows the older child , who can climb safely, to get up into their chair and back down again independently.
For us this was around 18 months old, though we still are near just in case he loses his footing. We LOVED this chair when we used it and I would recommend it to anyone, Montessori aligned or not.
Another parent plus is that this high chair is able to be adjusted with age, thus allowing you to use it all the through their early childhood years. It allows for older kids to be able to sit at the right height for your particular family table and easily be able to reach cutlery, drink, and not feel awkward trying to cut food.
If you are interested in looking for a second hand one Good Buy Gear is a great option for finding larger second hand baby items like high chairs, strollers, cots, etc.. If you’re thrifty like me this is a great space to look.
Mocka High Chair
Mocka Soho high chairs are much the same, they allow children to independently get in/out of the chair once they can safely climb up adequately. The design is very similar and is great for growing up with your child as they age.
This chair also has the features for younger babies, such as the bar featured in the photo above.
If you want the best bang for your buck, a high chair that goes from infant to early childhood is pretty darn awesome in my mom opinion (#parentgoals!)
A huge positive for the Mocka is that it is usually cheaper than the Stokke brand, yet gives you all the same benefits. SO, this high chair might be the more budget friendly option.
Aldi High Chair
Aldi came out with a high chair similar to the Tripp Trapp and Mocka, for half the price. Woohoo!
Now I am not sure when they will sell them again, but if you keep your eyes out you might be able to find one.
This is what we currently use as we got a table that is not the average dining table height, and the Aldi high chair was the only one that gave us that extra height.
My review of Aldi High Chair: Aldi Natural wooden high chair holds up just as well as the other popular brands. My toddler has no trouble getting up and down from it and it has been a breeze to clean. The bits for the table bit to snap on to are bit bulky, but just annoying more than anything.
Find What Weaning Table Or Alternative Will Work for You
Now that you have a better idea of what a Montessori weaning table is and what some alternatives are you can decide what will work for you and your family.
Assessing your space availability and budget will help you narrow down the option that will suit you.
They are a GREAT resource for young children which allows them access to do activities at their height and feel they have a space that is “theirs”.
Thus, it becomes a great tool for independent activities such as sorting, coloring, and much more. They are more than just a meal table!
Hope you found this information helpful, if you have any queries feel free to ask away in the comments!
P.S. If you ever have concern on what to feed your child, this visual meal guide designed by a lovely pediatrician who enjoys sharing photos of portions and food ideas.
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