Self- Feeding

MOMMY ON BOARD - Kristalle Marie Garcia-Kekert (The Philippine Star) - August 20, 2012 - 12:00am

Placing objects into the mouth is one of the first signs that your baby is getting ready to feed him/herself. The earlier self-feeding is introduced, the earlier your child will benefit from independence, motor skills, eye-hand coordination and better time management, making it a simpler task for both parent and child during mealtimes.

The start of self-feeding normally begins with some persistent pushing. It is a "long" process wherein your child will have to learn to grasp and pinch (finger food) or will need to scoop out a portion from a bowl using a spoon then aim for the mouth without any help. Do expect a lot of mess during mealtimes but eventually, you will find that, although a challenge, it will get easier and easier. Self-feeding is a major step for your baby but practice does make perfect!

At 12 to 15 months old:

Finger foods are most suitable for toddlers at this stage in life. Sometimes, you will find some toddlers using a spoon but still with a lot of perfecting to do. Your little one should also know how to hold a cup using one of both hands but will need extra help especially when trying to take a sip from an open cup (this is when sippy cups are useful though some parents choose to go directly from baby bottles to open cups). Colourful bowls or plates that stick to the table by suction are a helpful start so your baby is unable to push and play around with the food. It makes mealtimes fun, too!

At 15 to 18 months old:

Most toddlers will see the connection from the cutlery to the bowl/plate then towards the mouth. Some might even dump the food towards the floor when they think you're not looking. This is still one tough and extremely messy job for most toddlers but you will only need to sit, relax and be patient. You might want to pull out your camera to capture the mealtime moment!

At 18 to 24 months old:

Toddlers at this stage would normally choose (or even insist) to self-feed but still with a lot of mess! But don't try to take the spoon away from your child, encourage him/her instead. Start (and be consistent) with eating rules but don't expect any neat eating until your child is around 3 years old and above.

Always remember to feed your child nutritious food to maintain good health. If by 15months, you notice that your toddler isn't self-feeding or seems to have trouble chewing and gags when eating, you might want to mention this fact to your doctor who might be able to help you.

Helpful book:

What to Expect the Second Year (2011) by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel

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