Baby, Food, Kids, Parenting

Becoming Independent in Feeding

Guest post by Maria Mizzi

Many of us are loving the new Baby-Led Weaning trend, and this is not another post about BLW, as much as new parents should think about what food to present, it’s important to also keep in mind how to present it. You don’t want your kid to be trying new food but not be able to grab his/her food independently. Also, recent studies (Fangupo, et al., 2016) indicate that choking risk decreases when a baby self-feeds safe finger foods. There are many websites that indicate how food should be presented at which age, and this increases the child’s self-motivation to explore, improves sensory tactile system in the hand and helps with decreasing the risk of picky eating in the future.

But let’s move on to using cutlery, the biggest challenge, how and when are you going to start presenting cutlery to your baby? Bump & Me have got a great set that can help your baby with this process which is the new Haakaa Silicone Self-Feeding Spoon Set


So now, you have purchased cutlery adequate for your baby, how to start?

At around the same time you would normally start with food weaning (6-7 months) you may start presenting the cutlery – the sooner your baby becomes familiar to these the quicker they will achieve their independence in feeding and the less trouble or issues children will have with food later on.

Demonstration – this is key. Grab their own cutlery from the plate whilst they’re eating and show them how they should be using it. You can pair this with hand-on-hand assistance.

Trial and error – well of course we do not become experts overnight. So you’ll have a mess but that’s part of the learning process. You may also carry out trial and error activities in the bathroom by scooping water in a cup or scooping beads from one cup to the other. Play will help your child learn quicker.

Independence – by 2 years of age your child can become independent in feeding themselves with a spoon or a fork!

Further suggestions:
– Use a mirror to assist child with hand to mouth coordination
– Use pretend play to teach the skill to your son or daughter
– Practice using a bowl that can get stuck to the table, so that whilst they’re trying to scoop this would not come out of the high chair
– To learn how to use the fork use a flat plate
– Use small cutlery that fits just right in the babies’ hands

 

A word about the author

Maria Mizzi is an occupational therapist (OT) with 8 years experience in pediatric therapy. Maria is a full-time school-based OT in church schools and manages her social media Instagram account @the_maltese_ot.

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