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Expert advice

25th Apr 2024

Why parents should wait until after mealtimes to wipe their babies’ faces

Jody Coffey

meal times

Don’t stress the mess!

Once your baby starts weaning, mealtimes get a whole lot messier.

While a growing baby learns to explore new textures, consistencies, colours, and flavours through foods, their fine motor control skills are still developing, meaning plenty of mess.

There are days when meal times are enjoyably smooth and days when they will bring you to the verge of tears — sometimes both outcomes can happen on the same day. Heck, at the same mealtime.

One thing is certain: there is always a mess in the early stages of meal times.

Many parents, who are irked by the sight of their babies’ food-covered cheeks and hands, may have wipes ready to clean away the food splatters, droppings, and smears as they happen.

While this is completely understandable, one paediatric dietician says parents should wait until their baby is finished with mealtime and avoid wiping their face during their meal.

“Our paediatric dietitian recommends avoiding wiping baby’s hands and mouth after every bite because constant cleaning up could teach them that mess is a negative thing,” a Tiny Hearts Education post says.

“And it could lead to baby feeling sensitive to having food on their face and hands.”

Instead, they recommend that parents give their baby a warm wet towel after their meal is over.

This may encourage them to suck on and rub their face and mouth themselves and therefore clean most of their face themselves when they are finished eating.

After their meal, they should give their baby a ‘good wipe-down’.

“Try not to stress about the mess. Messy food play and experiential eating helps to build confidence eaters!”

Tiny Hearts Education provides quality baby, infant and child first aid, CPR and helpful information for parents online.