Just how messy should kids get at meal time?

Research shows that enjoying a meal together can have a positive effect on your child’s development. In addition to enjoying a meal together, it is important to keep mealtime positive and let your child get messy!


I’m sure as you read this you might think why?, the last thing I want is more mess; but your child is actually learning while they are eating when you let them get messy.  So try to hold back the disgusted faces and embrace the mess, fun and exploration that your child is experiencing.

So what is your child learning when you allow them to make a mess and when do you draw the line?  Your child is learning to self-feed; you can model how to bring a utensil or hand to his/her mouth. They are exploring their senses through curiosity and discovery; children and babies constantly need to explore new textures, tastes and smells which makes them more open to a greater variety of foods.

Keeping mealtime positive and laid back, allows for more success in eating and trying new foods. Try to hold off wiping your child’s mouth or tray throughout the meal and save this for the end. You can always bathe them when they are done.  As long your child is exploring and learning, try not to intervene, continue to model eating and using utensils so that they have a chance to watch, explore and learn from you as well.  If they take food exploration to be more of a game or if your child begins to act out (e.g. Smearing pasta sauce all over the walls), remind them of the positive ways that they can eat the food or give them several choices for ways to eat the food. For instance, one example would be “you can eat your chicken with your hands or we can cut it up and you can eat it with your fork. Another example would be, “you could eat your chicken by dipping it in the red sauce or the white sauce.”

So let’s make messy mealtime fun and enjoy it as a family to create healthy eating habits and memorable (and photographable) experiences! The following products are just some fun additions that can allow you to let your child get messy, make vegetable eating exciting, encourage new foods, and be ‘present’ at the table.

Fun & Genius Placemats

The EZ Mini Mat Plate is a placemat-divided ‘dishware’ all-in-one. It suctions to the table or highchair tray so it stays put, creating less mess and not allowing the food to end up on the floor! The dividers allow you to separate different components of the meal and with the cute smiley face, it encourages children to try the various foods.  It is also easy to take with you when travel or eating out!

Another mat choice which provides entertainment for when you need your child to wait until the food is ready or if you’d like them to stay seated for longer are these fun Modern Twist Mark Mats. These mats allow your child to color in and can create discussion around new things they are learning about such as barnyard animals or with the garden mat, new vegetables to try.  The mat is plastic-free, and made using 100% food grade silicone.  The markers that come with the kit are non-toxic and easy to wipe off allowing for reuse time and time again.

Cool Plates & Bowls

If your child is ready for a plate these Petits Et Maman Wood Plates are adorable! They come in a variety of shapes including a car, bunny, or elephant and have compartments to separate food.

A great choice for children who are encouraged to try new foods with fun dipping sauces is the JJ Rabit dipPlate.  The rabbits head holds your child’s favorite dipping sauce without needing an extra bowl.

For a bowl option the Avanchy Bamboo Stay Put Suction Bowl and Spoon is a great option that stays put on the table while your child develops the coordination to use his/her spoon.

Easy-to-use Utensils

The Nenu spoon and fork is designed to minimize mess with little legs that help prop up the utensils so that food stays in the spoon and not on the floor. The smallness of the handle also allows for an easy grip.

Another spoon that adds some fun to mealtime is the Oogaa Airplane Spoon. Cleverly shaped like an airplane it is made from European-approved food-safe, high-grade silicone.

Sweet & Simple Sets

The Bamboo Studio 5 piece dinner set includes a bowl, plate, spoon, fork and cup. The cup is open, which helps to encourage your child to practice drinking from non-sippy cups. With fun characters and designs like Frog and Monkey, these are a great choice for your little one.

Cute & Clever Bibs

To keep clothes clean, the Make My Day Silicone Baby Bib is a lifesaver. They are easy to wipe down when meal time is over or when you are on the go. They also come in a variety of super cool styles like Pearls, Tuxedo, and Ladybug. They are also BPA-free and made from the highest quality food-grade silicone.

There are a lot of innovative products on the market, however the ones listed here are by far the most stylish, but more importantly, they are safe for your child and the environment and durable and long-lasting.