Mine's been self-feeding since she started grabbing food off my plate at 4mos! She's 8.5 mos now, and we just let her make her mess. We put a spoon on her tray, mostly for show, as everything is finger food to her...applesauce, oatmeal, cottage cheese, etc. Sometimes she'll pick up the spoon and attempt to use it (her favorite method is holding the spoon in one hand, then picking up food with the other and putting it on the spoon before shoving it at her face. I think that might defeat the purpose.
)But, this child will NOT let me feed her myself. She'll push my hand away, smack it, clamp her mouth...and then shove the food in herself. She wants to do it HER way, and she doesn't need YOUR help, thank you very much
. Well, except when she drops the sippy cup to the ground.
The mess...well, she usually gets two solid meals a day, breakfast and dinner. She eats breakfast in her pjs, which 9 times out of 10 are going in the laundry that day anyway. And then I just wash her face, head, and hands with a warm washcloth. Sometimes she ends up with stuff in her hair that doesn't come out very easily, but, oh well. Really, even if she's eating a meal in her "for good" clothes, it's not such a horrid mess that I feel like I can't take her out in them or whatever most of the time.
She eats dinner before her bath, so, that works out super well right there.
. And that's when we tackle anything that's made it into her hair. I figure if she gets her one bath a day, that is MORE than sufficient. We do it mostly because she LOVES bathtime, not because we feel some need for a squeaky clean child...as my husband's co-worker said, "It's not like she stopped by the gym and ran on treadmill for an hour after work." (He has three kids).
She is going through a phase of dropping food for the dog. Obviously, she's going through the dropping everything phase, anyway, and SOMEONE just figured out that Puppy LOVES when she drops food off the tray. What a neat trick! Luckily, I have a furry little vacuum cleaner that could sniff out food a mile away...no morsel left uneaten.
Um, I also let the dog clean off the tray...just put it on the floor, and then I swipe it with a sponge after the dog is done.
Honestly, I think it's been great for Katie. She has tremendous hand eye coordination now and a great pincer grip (which can be slightly hair-raising, as EVERYTHING goes in the mouth lightning-quick). She also eats ANYTHING except salmon, squash, and grapes if I let her feed herself. It's game on as far as she's concerned about new foods.