The weaning process for your little one transitioning into solid foods is an important event in your child’s development. It is natural to be confused between the choice of a Montessori table-chair set and a high chair by the family table for this milestone. The ideal choice would be the Montessori weaning table to promote independence, self-confidence, and good table manners.
If you’re keen on practicing Montessori at home, it is essential to equip your home with child-sized furniture. It helps your little ones move around independently and confidently perform many tasks. A weaning table is equally important to transition from a liquid diet to solid food.
Let’s learn more about Montessori weaning tables, the benefits and uses, the right time to start using one, and a guide on choosing the right weaning table.
What Is a Montessori Weaning Table?
A Montessori weaning table is a child-sized table and chair set designed for use as a feeding or dining table for infants and toddlers. The height/size of this kids’ table is suitable for your child to freely climb in and out independently.
The ideal place for this table is in the kitchen area, and it is recommended to use small-scale versions of adult dishes, including cutlery, plates, bowls, and cups.
Benefits of a Montessori Weaning Table
The many benefits of using a weaning table and chair set at a young age make it an excellent Montessori choice for baby-led weaning.
- Independence: Your child can get in and out of the chair alone, without guidance.
- Self-Feeding: Unlike a high chair ideal for spoon-feeding your little one at an adult level, a weaning table lets your child eat independently and at their own pace. It helps them develop fine motor skills by manipulating food and utensils.
- Comfort: A weaning table is designed to let your child sit comfortably, with their feet flat on the ground. A chair with arms and a high back makes it more comfortable for them.
- Versatile: You can use a weaning table for other activities, apart from meal times. It can be used as a work table for painting, crafts, or preparing a simple meal together.
- Promotes Table Manners: Transitioning from a small table to a family table is easier when using a weaning table for your young child. Napkins, placemats, real dishes, and utensils make learning table manners easier.
- Interaction with Siblings: If you have multiple children, the weaning table is a good place for young siblings to sit together and interact.
- Household Participation: With a weaning table, your child can develop practical life skills by helping set the table and clear and clean it.
Suitable Ages to Use A Weaning Table
Once your little one can sit up without assistance, probably close to 6+ months, it’s the right time to introduce a Montessori weaning table. However, this milestone achievement differs, as each child has their own pace of development.
Ideally, a good time is once they have good muscle neck strength to keep their head stable. This is also the time to start them with a solid diet.
You can continue using the weaning table for the toddler years and then some more till your child is ready to transition to the family table. The approximate table heights suitable for different ages are:
- 12″ height: 8 – 18 months (like this 12″ weaning table)
- 15″ height: 1 – 3 years (like this 15″ weaning table)
- 18″ height: 3 – 8 years
- 20″ height: 4 – 7 years
- 22″ height: 6 – 9 years
Different Types of Weaning Tables and Chairs
There are many types of weaning tables and chairs available to choose from. The choices are almost overwhelming for parents.
Most importantly, you need to decide on one of these types before proceeding with options like colors or materials:
Adjustable Weaning Table
An adjustable table comes with variable legs providing the flexibility to modify the table height when your child grows.
A good example is the Adjustable Montessori Weaning Chair and Table set by Sprout Kids.
Fixed-Height Weaning Table
This is like a typical table (child-sized) without any height adjustment options. Once your child outgrows the table size, you’ll have to move on to the next option: another table or transition to a family table.
The IKEA table set with two chairs is one example and good for a slightly older child.
Adjustable Weaning Chair
Similar to the adjustable weaning table, an adjustable chair allows for height modification, allowing it to be used for a long time for your child.
If you already have a child-sized table at home, you could get an adjustable Montessori weaning chair like this one from Sprout Kids.
This multi-purpose piece of toddler furniture can be used as a weaning table and chair set, stool, beginner, or even a big kid chair. It grows with your child and can be used by infants as young as eight months up to kindergarten.
Weaning Table vs. High chair
Parents are bound to be confused between a weaning table and a high chair for their child’s weaning process. Both have their own set of benefits. However, here are some evident differences:
- Your child can get in and out of a chair at a weaning table without help, leading to a sense of independence. However, a high chair requires them to be lifted into and out of the chair.
- A high chair lets your child sit at the same table and height as you, while a weaning table is a smaller table and chair set.
- You know your child is safe in a high chair with straps while you carry on with household tasks nearby.
- A weaning table can be used for multiple activities apart from mealtime, while you can’t do as much with a high chair.
- Children find it more entertaining to drop food from a greater height, like a high chair. They often find it less entertaining doing so at a weaning table.
- A weaning table helps involve your child to help with tasks like setting and clearing the table, cleaning up, or helping with meal prep; not a high chair.
Despite the differences, a good choice for Montessori-aligned high chairs is the Stokke Tripp Trapp chairs that grow with your child. These can be used for a long time, from infants to toddler-hood and even as an adult. This means that you could sit on one of these chairs too.
A weaning table can be used for several activities apart from being a convenient setting for your child’s meal. There are many practical life activities, among others, that it can be used for, such as:
- Baby-led weaning and meals (obviously!)
- Moving the chair in/out quietly
- Carrying items to the table without spilling or dropping anything
- Arts and crafts, like painting, drawing, coloring, glue crafts, etc.
- Setting and clearing the table (you can use a Montessori placement to help guide your child in doing this)
- Making a lovely flower arrangement for the table
- Food-related tasks like helping with meal prep or even baking
- Cleaning and washing the table and chairs
How To Use a Weaning Table Successfully?
Montessori parents tend to opt for baby-led weaning, and a small table just the right size works perfectly. The Montessori approach involves respecting your child’s choices and pace; patience is key in this process.
Not every child will immediately enjoy sitting at this table for an effortless transition to solid foods. You’re most likely to witness some food flung around, water splashes, prolonged meal times, or an outright refusal to eat at the table.
With some practice, patience, and effort, you could take baby steps and start with your child having one meal a day at the weaning table.
Here are some other ways you could successfully use a weaning table:
- Provide your little one with real dishes and cutlery; this shows your respect for them. This means using child-sized real dishes, regular metal silverware, and open glass cups. It also teaches them to care for and respect their environment early on.
- To get your child to sit at the table successfully, ensure they’re comfortably seated and have realistic expectations for how long they can sit still. Use gestures for younger children, and set clear mealtime expectations.
- While a high chair allows your child to participate in family meals, it requires them to be lifted in and out of it. Place the weaning table close to the family table for your child to feel involved in mealtime and not left out. You could sit with your little one at the weaning table and share a meal.
Buying Guide: Checklist for Choosing the Right Weaning Table
If you’re in search of the best weaning table for your infant or toddler to start the weaning process and help finish their meals independently, here’s a checklist to help pick the right one:
- Ideal Size and Height: Look for a table size that suits your child’s comfort. Going for a table and chair with adjustable height settings would be great.
- Flexibility: A piece of furniture that can be flexibly used for multiple purposes other than a weaning table and chair set is a good choice.
The Piccalio mini chef convertible – helper tower and this set by NATURAbaby are good ones to consider. Yet another option is the foldable learning tower, which doubles as a table and chair and comes with a chalkboard.
- Material and Style: Weaning tables can be made of wood, plastic, metal, etc., and might have several color options. Look for those that aren’t bulky, heavy, or difficult to clean. You could go for an adjustable height set or a versatile flip stool. The ECR4Kids table set is a good choice.
- Strength: It is essential to find a sturdy table set. If you can find a chair that can even carry the weight of a fully-grown adult, go for it.
- Safety: Chairs with handles and a high back are safer options than open chairs or stools. The Sweet Home from wood table set is a safe one with rounded corners.
- Ease of Assembly: The ones that don’t require any tools for assembly are the easiest ones to assemble and are a good pick. This set from B.spaces is super easy to assemble.
- Storage: If you’re tight on space at home, you could look into folding sets rather than non-folding ones.
- Budget/Price: Buying an entire Montessori weaning set of tables and chair/s could be a bit pricey. Unless you’re interested in making a DIY set, there are also budget-friendly options.
- Warranty Information: When it comes to children’s furniture, you can never be too careful with your little one’s safety. Do check for weaning tables that provide an extended warranty period.
Allowing your child to sit independently and eat alone is essential to show that you respect them. The sensitive period of weaning for toddlers must be managed with utmost patience and care. It helps build their sense of independence and self-confidence, improves their motor skills, and prepares them for eventually transitioning to the family table.
Try getting your little one to use a weaning table and chair, and watch how what these tiny humans are capable of beyond our expectations.