December 16th, 2015
This flashback just popped in my head. When my daughter was baby I would have a Baby First Home Visitor come by every week or few weeks. She encouraged me to get my kid to explore everything and teach her as much as possible. This included her encouraging me to allow her to play with her food. This really riled up my mom's feathers. My mom is all about table manners and eating properly. Since I was living with my mom at the time, I still had to go by her rules. This wasn't the only thing my mom had a problem with this BFHV. But I could see both sides and, to this day, I'm conflicted as to who was right.
On the one hand, baby's should be able to explore their food. Feel it in their hands, smell it, taste it, drop it and see what happens. That's what often happen anyways. Babies always make a mess. And, it's a great introduction to curiosity and fascination with food that could lead a child in becoming a successful chef, baker, food artist or just be great in the kitchen. So, yes, it really bothered me that my mom placed such a high expectation of cleanliness during a baby's meal time.
At the same time, I can see that babies learning manners is important, and the earlier they learn dining etiquette the easier it is to take them out to restaurants an other people's houses when you can ensure that there is a level of respect instilled into your kid.
But that sounds rather stiff and stuffy.
5 comments on "Table manners vs. playing with food"
That babies and toddlers make a mess its normal. But when school-aged children act like toddlers its pretty disgusting. Maybe its just me, but i find it gross.
I voted for manners all the way. Maybe it's my upbringing but I find table manners extremely important. Not just because you're at the table and a table with food is hardly a place to explore, experiment, or play, but also it's part of a whole discipline, teach the kids what's appropriate, and when. There is a time and a place for everything. Dinnertime is not a time to play, neither is the dinner table a place to play.
Even in my adult life I see people who have no manners. Given, I live in the USA but was raised in Europe. Even though I've been here for 20 + years, I've never gotten used to the fact that people don't use their knife properly around here, or people who feel that a good, loud burp after dinner is "funny".
Mine played with and explored their food, they made messes and did all the things that kids do, now they all have amazing table manners, well the 8 year old is a work in progress, but hey 7 out of 8 isn't bad
Mine all made messes with their food as little kids and can all eat properly now.
It's quite common with kids to play with whatever is in their reach, may it be food or toy. When it comes to table manners, they should be given enough care but not at an early age.