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4 Easy Ways to Encourage Independent (And Mess-Free) Eating in Toddlers

“‘I can do it myself, mama”, these words by feisty, little toddlers can both overjoy and scare a parent to death.

Yes, toddlers are learning to exercise their independence and that means letting them try to dress themselves, giving them permission to climb the higher slide, and of course, allowing (and even encouraging them) to feed themselves.

Does the thought of independent feeding make you dread the cleanups and messes?  Not to mention the lingering stains on your dining room chairs and table…Well, you aren’t alone.

So, here are 4 easy ways to encourage your independent toddlers to feed themselves without messing up your dining room:

1.  Use Toddler-Friendly Plates And Utensils

Toddler-friendly feeding products are designed to make self-feeding easier (and neater).

The Baby Dipper Bowl has a contoured interior that helps to guide food onto the spoon. And its transparent sides allow your child to see the food as they concentrate on getting it onto his or her spoon.  It also has a non-skid base to keep in it place so that your child doesn’t get frustrated chasing the bowl across the table (or pushing it onto the floor).

My Plate Mate is another great self-feeding product.  It fits around most child-sized plates and helps your child learn to use utensils and encourages independent feeding.  It also prevents food from sliding off the side of the plate (and onto the floor).

Your child will find mealtime easier and less frustrating if they have easy-to-manage plates, bowls, and utensils that are created specially for them.  And by using these products, you can help ensure that food doesn’t go flying across the table to land on the floor!

2.  Serve Easy-to-Manage Finger Foods

Young children love foods such as fish fingers, potato wedges, boiled eggs, and fruits and veggies cut into bite-sizes pieces.  These are easier and less messy for toddlers to eat.  Opt for finger foods that are easy to manage for chubby, little fingers.  Doing so will lessen the chances of stains and messes on the dining table.  Need some meal ideas?  You can find some great finger food suggestions for your toddler here.

3.  Make Mealtimes About Family

Toddlers are social creatures and they’d love to eat with others. So, when you sit down for lunch or even, breakfast, pull the high chair next to the table.  Let your toddler ‘see’ how you eat and chances are he’ll be eating neatly very soon.

Or better yet, use a booster seat such as the Go Anywhere Booster Seat.  This style of booster straps safely to one of your existing chairs and is a wonderful alternative to costly highchairs.  And better yet, it allows your child to be seated directly at the table.  To prevent spills, stains — or marks from little feet — use one of our SmartSeat Chair Protectors underneath the booster to keep your chairs from being stained.

4.  Cover Up for Mess-Free Meals

Finally, take precautions so that you don’t get unduly stressed about mealtimes and foster independence in your toddler as well. Cover up the dining table with a plastic, wipe-clean tablecloth and your dining chairs with our Smart Seat Chair Protectors.  Not only will you be relaxed about mealtimes with your toddler, cleaning up will be so much easier.

Go ahead and celebrate your little one’s independence and make mealtimes fun and free of stains and messes.

Have a question about keeping stains away? Join the Smart Seat Chair Protector community on Facebook and Twitter, and share your entertaining and housekeeping challenges – we’ll be happy to offer you our solutions and tips!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

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