Creating Family: Snack Station

One of the ways I am choosing to raise my child a la attachment parenting is through baby-led solids/weaning. Just like with most everything else, I trust my child communicate to me around food and breastfeeding. She signs and points and uses her voice and her body to clearly communicate most everything but pain — even that she has signed and told me where hurt when she had the stomach flu a month ago. To me, the whole purpose of attachment parenting is to create strong, confident, independent beings. I need my daughter to be involved as much as she can at each stage of her life in food just as in family.

Truly, the more independence I give her around nourishing her own body, the more we build trust, in herself and her family and her environment. In order for me to cook, I need her to snack independently (just like I do!) so we don’t both starve while waiting. To this end, I created a Snack Station, which I learned from watching Christine create in just one day! Indeed, it only took me as long as well. (Christine’s blog The Aums has an amusing and informative update on the original Snack Station, now with more kids.) Either we have two of the most brilliant babies ever, or, more likely, most babies are capable of independence in eating and worthy of our trust in them to learn about themselves within the safe, outer boundaries we create.

I posted a few times along the evolution of Snack Station on Uma’s blog,

Here’s the gist of what I do:

  • Use anything low
  • Put out whatever I’m eating (or some key things she likes, needs and is used to)
  • Tell her what it is and that I’m leaving it there for her, even if she is in the other room I go show her and tell her I’m leaving it in the kitchen at her Snack Station
  • Watch what she does with each
  • Give her a range of options and more of whatever she is actually eating
  • Make note of her eating habits over time to gauge the range of nutrients and amounts she is actually getting

This all looks like me eating and cooking with stolen and frequent glances at her eating and playing in the kitchen or in the family room. We talk and sing a lot so we don’t feel far away. My preference is to constantly give her more rather than give her a bunch at once so we don’t waste as much. If she wastes a little I put it in a little bowl and later toss the scraps on top of the dogs’ food that night or the next day. Plus, usually she is eating what I am eating, and I eat  a lot when I get home (breastfeeding, hungry, calories needed). We both eat steadily through a range of fruits and grains, and then vegetables from late afternoon through dinner, and then usually “dessert” of whole grain cereal with hemp milk, which she loves. She eats pretty much everything when she wants it, and if she is hungry she seems to want whatever we are eating.

This flow of family, the ability to build independence in and integrate Uma and ourselves into a new structure is what has allowed me to glimpse the scope of a Living Family. The Snack Station has brought many benefits and will keep giving for a little while at least. Anyone who knows kids knows that the only constant is change, but creating family doesn’t have to be elusive when communication and trust are at the foundation of our relationship.

6 responses to this post.

  1. I have been doing this a bit but always run into problems with our stupid cats! They keep stealing her snacks! Other than that, its working out well!! Yay for our independent eaters!


  2. Posted by Jen C. on December 8, 2010 at 2:45 am

    Our cats and bunny have been eating most of the crumbs on the floor. I found one of those mesh domes to keep flies off food in the summer and used that over Mal’s plate. Also was trying a bread box from IKEA or at my parents’ house a 3-sectioned Tupperware with the lid loosely on. Maybe an upside down colander? Those darn cats …


  3. Posted by Lata Murti on December 8, 2010 at 7:16 am

    This sounds lovely, Sheila. Thanks for sharing! I think I’ll try some of these techniques for Ivy as well as for myself, because we all have to get back to healthier snacking and eating in general in my household. I’ve let myself go a bit during this pregnancy and now my blood sugar is a tiny bit high. : ( Tell me more about hemp milk, and about the snacks you usually leave for Uma.


  4. […] Pouring is what Montessori would call a “Practical Life” activity. She is into pouring for sure. Any parent of a toddler knows that spilling and playing with liquid are fun times. My daughter seems pretty good at pouring from big things with help, but I want to get her a kid-sized pitcher from For Small Hands so she can pour things herself. I hope to put this pitcher with some of her small glasses on a table so she can get her own water and snacks. (Time to modify the snack station of old?) […]


  5. […] Just over a year ago, I posted about creating a snack station. […]


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