Boodle Fight is a popular activity for adults in the Philippines. Basically, the idea is to put different kinds of put on a banana leaf and eat together using your hands!
It’s some sort of a (fun) competition when adults do this, because they have to move fast to get the food they’re eyeing for (most especially if that food is limited).
When my son was 7 months old, I thought of making one for him and his then 3-year-old cousin. My friends whose babies are my son’s playmates in RIE classes loved it so much that they requested that we did it with them, too! And we did – that time, there were 4 babies more or less my son’s age! I should make one soon again!
We woke up early that morning to prepare the food: fresh fruits, steamed vegetables, and roasted vegetables with different herbs.
It’s important to note here that when my son started eating solids, we applied Baby-led Weaning (which I prefer to call Baby-led Eating from the time I first read from THIS BOOK) from day 1. That means his meals were never mashed, pureed, nor blended. His first food was an actual banana, the next one was mango. He was only eating fruits the first month of eating solids (because they’re easier to digest), and was only introduced to vegetables on his 7th month.
I will talk about that in a separate post, but it is important to stress that here in case you’re wondering why we prepared their food this way when a 7-month-old was going to participate. If your child started with mashed/ pureed/ blended food, I suggest that you hold off this activity and do it when your child is already eating solids well.
Anyway, the boodle set-up was very easy: a low-table, a banana leaf (from my mom-in-law’s garden), baby-friendly meals, and a weaning chair for my son. His cousin Philip just sat on the floor. It was set-up in such a way that they could eat independently – so food was within their reach.
From the time we invited them to the table, we did not help nor join them. We only observed as they joyfully wiped the table clean.
I kid you not. They wiped it clean – with very little mess! They were mostly finger foods, so except for 2 or 3 pieces of papayas (which I ate), half a banana, and bits of rice – they really ate the food we prepared!
Too bad I was not able to take a photo of the aftermath. We did very little cleaning, all thanks to the kids! 😀
Just a few tips if you intend to do this:
1) Prepare food you know they like.
2) Do the activity during their mealtime, so they’re hungry. Of course it would be harder to eat the food if the child had just been given a snack/meal/milk.
3) Mess is part of the fun! Remove their clothes so you won’t have to worry about them!
4) Yes, boodle fight means a lot of food – but be sure to arrange them in such a way that they do not look too cluttered or too many – it might overwhelm your child and just have a child who refrains from eating.
5) Let your child own the experience by ensuring your set-up encourages independence – a weaning chair so the child won’t have to sit on your lap, a low table so they can easily reach the food, etc. Once you’ve prepared the food and showed them their buffet, all you have to do is sit back and relax.
Oh, and of course, take photos and have fun!