Maria Montessori taught about the importance of teaching children to do things for themselves. She also stressed creating a beautiful environment full of beautiful things, often breakable. She found that if a child was given something fragile, they were more careful with it than something that they could throw around and wouldn’t break. Yes, glass cups and china plates will get broken by your child but your child will learn a lesson beyond the value of the dishes, he will learn that if he isn’t careful, it gets broken and is gone for good. A child quickly learns to slow down and do things gently.
I must admit, I was against this at first. I remember Pumpkin 1 throwing plates and cups on the floor, recently even flinging one on my lap. I don’t really want to have to clean up glass as well as food and I worry that soon I’ll have a mobile baby that could find a sharp piece that I missed. At the same time though, what Maria says makes sense. We give our children all these cheap plastic dishes that look like their toys. We don’t trust them and so they don’t learn to be careful. In fact, I only started giving Pumpkin 1 an actual cup rather than a sippy cup this past week. And she did spill it, in fact she dumped a cup of milk on her head trying to put it on the counter. But she quickly learned how to use it properly. She probably could have been using a cup for a long time if I had just let her. I’m also introducing solids to Pumpkin 2 who is 7 months and I’ve decided to be more “Montessori” about it, so he’s getting a glass cup.
I started off with a trip to the Dollar Store. For Pumpkin 2 I got some shot glasses which are the perfect size for little hands. For Pumpkin 1 I got some glass cups, her own small mug, some ceramic bowls (two are Ramkin cups) and a little pitcher (a mini measuring cup).
After I got home I let her experiment with the pitcher and a glass cup. She loved pouring the water between the two. It did make a big mess but water is easy to clean up. I think pouring seems to be a sweet spot in learning for her. I’m going to try to give her more opportunities to pour.
She likes pouring herself water and milk to drink in the glass cup. She liked the little bowls but had a melt down because I used the green one for Pumpkin 2’s food and she decided she wanted it.
For Pumpkin 2, with introducing solids I’m doing a mixture of Baby-led weaning and the Montessori approach. I don’t have a weaning table so he sits in his high chair. He hasn’t been too sure what to do with food yet but he’s starting to figure it out. I’ll put a little food on a spoon and put it close to his mouth and let him take over. It’s messy but he’s learning to feed himself. Baby-led weaning is giving the solid food, not purees and letting them feed themselves. He hasn’t really figured that out yet, we’ll keep trying. Both my children’s first food was avocado.
And so, we’re on a new and exciting (yet messy) path.
Here is a video of a 9 month old eating and drinking – such independence!