Every good habit and accomplished developmental milestone in toddlers results from hard work. One or more of the following may be responsible; you, the siblings, your nanny, your partner, or even strangers.
A child’s outstanding qualities are not innate but rather the result of their upbringing. This is why significant achievements are marked with ceremonies. Your toddler’s first step, first words, potty training and many others, are all milestones that are easy to celebrate.
Along with these, there are many other milestones to look forward to as a child grows up, such as sitting up for the first time, attending school for the first time, sleeping through the night, and getting a haircut.
Surprisingly, self-feeding has yet to be widely recognized as a significant achievement. A lot of work goes into teaching a toddler to feed itself reliably. Your child’s learning to feed themselves will be gradual and time-consuming, but ultimately very rewarding.
Even though your child won’t be able to feed himself physically until they’re a toddler, it’s best to get them used to the process as soon as possible.
Some 7 tips for teaching your toddler to self-feed.
1. Start by encouraging hand feeding
Encourage your baby to use his hands to bring food to his mouth before you introduce feeding utensils. You can start by putting food on your little one’s high chair tray, such as a yogurt pouch or a few bits of food.
Get the baby to experiment with the pincer grasp by reaching for it and exploring it. Though it appears that the child isn’t doing much and isn’t eating, this is the beginning of the child’s learning process.
2. Provide them with practicing opportunities
The faster they learn and master self-feeding, the more practice opportunities you give them. Let them experiment with using their hands and different utensils to feed themselves.
3. Start toddlers off right by teaching them how to use utensils
Infants can start using cutlery as early as six months. They will benefit from the regular use of cutlery during mealtime. Initially, it is helpful to have two spoons.
One spoon is for you to feed your little one. The other one is for them to practice holding a spoon. If you’re feeding your baby, they can try to mimic your actions by dipping the spoon into the food and bringing it to their lips.
You can also give your child a spoon that already has food. The baby can practice this to keep the food balanced on the spoon as they bring it to the mouth. Use something thicker, like oatmeal or yogurt, for this.
Due to their increased stickiness, these foods make excellent practice. It is important to give ample time to practice with both tools.
4. Do not leave your baby alone while eating
It’s essential that you keep a close eye on your baby while they experiment with self-feeding. You need to make sure the baby gets used to the different tastes and textures you’re giving them.
You can see how much food the baby is actually consuming if you stick around. All these things indicate that you should not abandon your baby. They’re in a learning process and might use your direction.
5. Be patient
Be patient with your child as they learn to feed themselves; it takes practice. Please take your time throughout meals and the rest of the process. Since your infant can recognize when they are getting hungry or full, they should direct the speed of feedings.
Because of this, it would help if you gave them plenty of time for their meals. Your baby will be able to feed herself with time and effort.
6. Expect a ton of mess and prepare accordingly
Messes are inevitable when babies are free to experiment with feeding themselves. This is perfectly OK. Don’t worry, and prepare for chaos. If you’re afraid about food falling, you may lay a towel on the floor.
You can also put your child a baby apron, or strip your baby down to her diaper. Baby wipes and microfiber towels should also be on hand. During feeding time, you may even need to wash the infant.
Once more, this is to be expected. Your baby’s attempt at self-feeding is still a win, even if it becomes messy. There will be less mess as she becomes more adept at handling the various foods. We expect this to occur as part of the procedure.
7. Encourage family meal times
Having your child watch the family as they eat together is a great way to teach them how to feed themselves. The best way for babies to learn new skills is to watch what other people do and do it themselves.
Babies learn to use utensils and eat like their parents and siblings by seeing these actions and trying to replicate them. The more they observe you, the more assured they get that they, too, can achieve their goals.
Your kid will only learn how to behave at mealtimes properly if they are able to watch you use utensils and cut food in the same context as the rest of the family.
What are the foods to avoid when my baby is beginning to self-feed?
When giving toddlers their first solid foods and teaching them how to feed themselves, you should avoid giving them things they could choke on. They include:
- Hot dogs
- Whole grapes
- Portions of food that are too large
- Raw carrots
Your child is entering a new and fascinating stage of growth. Self-feeding is a skill that must be learned and developed over time. If you notice that your baby isn’t getting full from finger foods or purees alone at mealtime, which is normal initially, try alternating the two.
It will be a rough process teaching your infant to feed themselves. But the benefits of growth outweigh the inconveniences. You can protect your child’s clothes and the floor from messes at mealtimes by using smocks or bibs, laying down a drop cloth, and keeping a mop close by.