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September 21, 2022

Approaching Weaning with Our Montessori Baby

At seven-months-old Penelope has started her weaning journey. To be clear, weaning in this context means starting food, not stopping nursing or breastfeeding. The majority of her nutrition comes from breastmilk and will for sometime. But, she is eating more and more solid food throughout the day. I wanted to share a little about how that looks for us because it is a little deviation from traditional Montessori sources. 

Traditionally, Montessori sources would suggest to start the weaning process with a series of pureed foods served to the infant with real small plates/bowls and spoons. This may include the use of small amounts of juice to awaken the platte. We personally, have decided to forgo much of this traditional advice in favor of a more evidence based approach - baby lead weaning. Specifically, we are following the advice and guidance of the professionals at Solid Starts

How We Will Incorporate Montessori into Our Weaning Journey

That doesn't mean we will leave Montessori completely behind. In fact, I think that Montessori actually compliments this approach really really well (while also incorporating more of the science behind learning to eat.) We will keep the spirit of Montessori - going at Penelope's pace while respecting her throughout the process. 

"The weaning meal should be given calmly, sitting in front of the child. We should remember that , no matter how different the food and feeding position may be, we are together with the child, sharing on of the most human and pleasurable acts of social life. 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 toward independence." Silvana Montanaro, Understanding the Human Being p. 96 (my emphasis added)

We are approaching the introduction of food as a special and unique time for Penelope. One that is a lot of fun, low pressure, and as important work for her. Things that we will do with Penelope as we continue on our weaning journey include: 

  • Respecting her in all things - asking to wipe her hands and face, avoiding laughing at her faces or reactions to food, and giving her time to eat and explore as needed. 
  • Including her in family meals - eating at the actual table at the same time as the rest of us, she is a valued and loved member of the family and will eat as such
  • Offering opportunities for independence from an early age - using an open cup, pouring water out for her, using real utensils 
  • Emphasis on self-feeding - both for safety purposes and independence in the process
  • Following her lead in readiness and in interest while still offering a variety of different types of food 

Keeping Montessori's principals in mind are always super important to our family, and how can you go wrong with following the child! I think we can a strike a balance between offering a really beautiful and peaceful weaning experience with the real life realities of being the fifth baby in our family. We can strike a balance between the weaning table and the highchair. And a balance between independence and connection. 

Like in all things we will be following Penelope in this journey and that journey may look differently from yours. So far she has loved everything we've offered from steak, to asparagus, yogurt, to peaches, peas, or tilapia there hasn't been anything she hasn't eaten with gusto. By following her own readiness, I think we just caught her at the perfect time to be really into food and ready to explore. 

How have you balanced Montessori and weaning? How much of this journey are you interested in me sharing? 

This is week 32 of my Montessori Baby Series focusing on Penelope. 


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Anonymous said…
Love following your journey! She is so cute!