We've done mostly baby-led solids and some spoon feeding (almost no purees) with my now 12-mo-old daughter since she was 6 months old. I'm really glad we did BLW and she loves food. Self-feeding was great for awhile and she, my DH and I eat meals together as a family every day. But now she throws and drops food on purpose at every meal and pretty much won't let us spoon-feed her at all (for instance, if we're eating something like soup or I have to get us out the door b/c I have to get to work and we don't have time for a lengthy mealtime. Or if we are out in public and can't feed her in a diaper or make a huge mess).
I know the dropping/throwing is a stage and we try to work with it. I let her play w/ a fork and spoon and help her use them to feed herself so eventually she'll be able to really use them. I try to plan meals & snacks that will be easy for her to eat and not super messy, but that's not possible 100% of the time. Yes, we have a dog that can "help" clean the floor. Cooking, feeding, and cleaning floor, table, highchair, dishes & a baby afterwards are still taking up tons of time and energy and I'm getting really worn out!
Any tips or suggestions to make things a little easier during this stage?
I also tried to do what I could to make some foods less messy/ easier to clean up. I'd added cereal ( like rice or millet puffs) to applesauce or yogurt - also made it easier to keep on the spoon. Or would pour soup over leftover rice, so it was less soupy. Dd1 always preferred finger foods too, so there was that anyway in my favor. I'd move the rest of dinner and give her the carrots or fruit slices instead for eating-playing.
We've got 2 dogs and 2 cats that sit in their respective areas ready to race in for clean up :-) DD (15mos) likes finger foods but REALLY likes adult sized utensils over her smaller ones and so we've moved her mostly to the larger ones. My IL's are appauled (MIL is like listening to a horror movie with all her 'oohs' and 'eeeek' thinking she will poke her eye out) but she's not a fan of the baby/toddler ones! Ocassionally we have to battle baked potato in the hair and no time for a bath, I keep a wet towel nearby and give her head a quick rub. In public, we try and keep the dropping of food to a minimum, but I do my best to clean up afterwards, appologize to the waiter/waitress and tip generously. DH would prefer to keep her at home during this time but my thought process is she needs to learn how to behave in public sooner rather than later!
I do save super messy meals for nights at home and have the bathtub ready to go, and if I'm overwhelemed and don't want to clean a mess - steamed veggies and beans in a snack cup it is!