The mess, oh the mess!

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Categories Feeding, Foodie Fridays, Infants, Solid Foods

My kids are now almost 12 months old. I waited to start solid foods until my babies were six months old. Partially, because that’s what the lactation consultant recommended. And, partially, because when they were four months old, I simply couldn’t face adding more work into my life. Between staying home with the babies full-time, a half-finished dissertation proposal and a class full of second year masters students to teach, I felt like my plate was full. I couldn’t really face it at six months either, but, by that point, I’d waited long enough.  The kids were thrilled—Abigail seemed to look at me and try to say, “Ah, Mom! This is what I’ve been wanting! This is fantastic!”. Danny was less thrilled, but quickly got into it.

 While physically feeding them was okay, the mess that was created was fantastic! Another HDYDI mom asked recently, “How do you deal with the mess?”. Ah, a question I wish I had the answer for. Sweet potato in the hair. Yogurt smeared all over the tray. I double bib (small cloth bib underneath, with a big plastic bib with a pocket on top) but still some food gets through. I push up the sleeves. I try making the food thicker to try to keep it on the spoon. This is only successful when the babies don’t decide to feed themselves (they’re 11 months now, and independence is a big thing for them)….ah, an excited baby with a spoonful of oatmeal. Shake spoon excitedly! Yell loudly! Food goes flying….seriously, it’s airborn. It’ll hit the table behind them, or the floor two feet away, or, if she’s unlucky, the cat as she walks by. (Poor cat has seriously had a decrease in her quality of life since the kiddos arrived. Cat fur is so soft and fun to pull….). And now, the new developmental step is throw something over the side (of the high chair, the crib, the stroller) and then lean way over to watch it. Where did it go? On the floor? How fascinating to see it there! Let’s see what happens if I do it again!

We’ve been working on sign language for months now (with no signs in return…sigh) but Abigail’s new sign for “all done” appears to be sweeping her hands back and forth across the tray, sweeping all leftover food onto the floor. The cat is thrilled if it’s chicken…..useless if it’s bits of orange or apple. (She’ll deign to snack on cheese or tofu only if I’ve forgotten to feed her a snack recently). My floor is covered with small bits of snacks and splotches of purees. I never clean it enough. (The cleaning people have taking to spraying it with cleaner and letting it soak for 20 minutes before even trying to mop. Ew.)

There isn’t really advice in this column. I can’t say I’ve ever dealt particularly well with the mess. I have resorted to dinner in a diaper and socks only (their feet might get cold), which vaguely horrifies my husband (where did their clothes go?) but that I think makes perfect sense. Why get clothing covered with food when you don’t have to? But this isn’t really a practical solution for all meals. What do others do? Should I just bite the bullet and replace my cat (sorry kitty!) with a nice (small) dog who will happily clean my floor for me? Because that’s just what I need, something else to take care of and clean up after.

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10 thoughts on “The mess, oh the mess!”

  1. My mess has slightly improved with thicker purees and trying to hold their curious hands out of the way when feeding them. Once or twice I’ve even managed to get it so that I don’t have to immediately change their clothes afterwards! Not often, though. Those hands are fast, and they grab that nice spoon full of squash…
    Last night, overheard at bathtime, “Daniel, how did you get peas in your ear?”

  2. I had to laugh as I read this because we’re going through almost exactly the same stuff right now. The one thing that has worked best for us is to tie one of those ever-present thin receiving blankets around each baby’s neck to act as a bib (also as a second layer over the little cloth bib). Aside from being big and covering all their clothes, it seems to calm those little hands that want to explore everything about the food they’re eating. I get less “hands in the mush” situations and more of a chance at whipping off the blanket when they’re done and having a clean baby underneath (well, aside from the face anyway).

  3. We put a HUGE rug on the floor under the high chairs. I mean HUGE. We made sure it was machine washable. After every meal, the rug was covered in food so we swept the big chunks into the sink and then washed it every 2-3 days. Probably gross to leave it sitting there for 2-3 days with dried baby food on it but it was better than the baby food being on the floor.

  4. Oh, how i’m right there with you! My girls are 15 months and it’s a mess all the time! Now, if anyone reads this i’d love to know how to take 2- 15 month old twins that do the same thing at a restaurant(hand them food and they take it and throw it right over the side as i say “NO” in a very firm voice and they look and both laugh at me). I get SOOO embarassed i seriously end up getting on my knees to pick up everything off the floor before we leave. Even a 100 dollar tip wouldn’t be enough to clean up what they usually do. We did finally find a resstaurant that is VERY kid friendly(ROADHOUSE)…or any restaurant that serves peanuts that you can throw on the floor. AHH…seriously, no one sees anything…and it’s the one restaurant i can go to and not freak out. Just my two cents.

    The floors at my house(slate) are caked in food…most won’t come out. I have to get down on my hands and knees with a tooth brush to get the nasty food out…and it’s even harder since the floor isn’t smooth! The soaking thing sounds like a good idea…guess my cleaning lady isn’t as good…because she just mops and she’s done. I’m going to have to go through some new things with HER next time she comes to clean. Thanks for the soaking advice!

  5. this is kinda bad, but i have yet to give my 11 month olds their own spoon. i feed anything with a consistency of slop to them and they get to do the finger food routine. it means a little less goop in their hair. otherwise, we live in the same type of mess. lots of cheerios and mighty bites get eaten by them when they find them on the floor. i know, bad, but i try to get to them before. someday utensils will enter the picture but for now i figure why bother….

  6. mamie~ i am right there with you. our twins are now 4 years old, but i put off having to encourage their independence by giving them free reign of their own utensils for as long as possible. having twins is hard enough with all the other normal, day-to-day, minute-by-minute things that come up. i just didnt want to be cleaning all day. finally i started giving in and first started with more textured foods to let them use their own spoons for. (i also encouraged finger foods). NOW, my issue (and this sounds horrible too) is that i cant seem to give up and let the kids use real cups (rather than sippy cups). i am just terrified with the mess that i KNOW will come with every meal, probably at least once or twice with every meal… per kid! my kids are getting ready to start preschool and they dont allow sippy cups for kids over age 2, so we have been letting our twins use real cups more often, which they do pretty well with, but i still dont like it and am bucking the system for as long as i can! :) ahhhh!!

  7. tricia, this is yet another situation where i think we are justified in using the twin card. i mean, as moxie of ask moxie fame says, there is yet to be a college student that goes to school asking for their parents to come a sleep in their dorm bed. i figure the same goes for spoons and cups. now diapers, that is a different issue. i am contemplating trying to introduce the potty soon, though it is early. any hdydi mamas want to tackle that in a post?

  8. Yep, throwing pieces of food on the floor while chewing other pieces is my son’s latest thing. Those little kids can throw far! I do food in just a diaper sometimes. But most of the time for dinner (jammies not on yet), and sometimes for breakfast (jammies not off yet) I don’t even bother with a bib at all. I just let the kids eat, and then I change their clothes and throw the dirty clothes in the wash. If I do put bibs on, that’s just more to wash because their clothes still get dirty. My husband laughs at the no bib thing, but truthfully I think bibs are a total hassle. Maybe my kids’ clothes have more stains than other kids, but it doesn’t seem that bad to me.

  9. I hate to be a downer here … but the messes get much worse before they get better. We’re in the “learning to use a cup” stage and are wearing at least 2 outfits a day now. The laundry is really adding up! Rugs, I’ve found, only work until they realize they can throw the food. I’m still finding peas in places I never thought to check.

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