We have moved around Otto's weaning table and chair a lot. It was in his our dining area and now it's in a corner space in our kitchen. Otto is now messier with his eating and as he can sit unaided, we've decided it's best that he eats (mostly) in the kitchen. I always just keep on moving things around until I find a way that works!
We have also found a lovely rhythm. In the mornings after we have dropped his brothers at school, we go into the kitchen where I will empty the dishwasher or put on washing and Otto will go straight to his table for snack. If we are rushed or if he is having something super quick he might (as above) eat on his rainbow rug. Then he will have a nap! Dinner is always at the dining table in his high chair with the rest of the family.
Otto is having a quick snack of banana. I know a lot of Montessori families use baby-led weaning. The Montessori approach is child led and encourages the use of lots of real finger foods too, but also the provision of infant sized cutlery, a weaning table and appropriately textured meals such as puree, to lumpy foods.
"During the weaning we should always remember to offer food that the child can take by himself, such as little pieces of bread, banana or vegetable, Of course, the child can also be given a fork and shown how to use it. Do not intervene if he uses his hands to help. The child watches cafefully how we do things and, if we eat well, as soon as he is able to manage it, the child will be willing to copy us." - Silvana Quattrocchi Montanaro in Understanding the Human Being.
Rugs can be problematic in children's spaces, they provide a comfortable place to sit but they can also be a tripping hazard for learner walkers. We desperately needed a warm and soft place for Otto to sit, or play in the kitchen so we will see how this works out, so far so good but he's not walking yet.
Otis is currently using this apron and dustpan but they are there ready for when Otto is old enough.
On Otto's shelves, there is a bowl, weaning cup, pitcher, napkins, sponge, cutlery and other cleaning cloths. Montessori placements are stored on the bottom shelf (his bib is on his high chair). It's hard to tell but these shelves are toddler height. As soon as Otto is walking with confidence he will be able to put his placemat onto his table and take a napkin and cutlery from this shelf.
The weaning table has been perfect for us. At eight months Otto can sit in it securely. He can't get in or out of it by himself yet but he uses the table and chair to pull to standing. He tries to climb into the chair but doesn't have it yet, he can crawl to it which is a sign that he is ready to eat. His feet don't touch the ground but he will push the table away once he has finished eating. I'm thinking of ordering another set for upstairs in his room, I really believe it's the best table and chair set up for this age group.
You know I also read a little about the RIE (Resources for Infant Educators) approach and Magda Gerber supported the use of the weaning table and chair once the child is able to get in and out independently.
"By using a child-size table and chair you adjust to your child's level, which makes her feel more comfortable. Picking her up and fastening her into a restraining device may underscore her helplessness. The table and chair encourage competence by letting her walk to the table herself. She chooses whether to sit and eat and decides when she wants to get up and leave. She also knows that it is her special eating place." Magda Gerber in Your Self-Confident Baby.
Oh my goodness, look at Otto, he's growing so fast!