7 Easy Tips to Encourage Self-Feeding
When it comes to babies, almost every day seems to be a dawn of a new milestone – their first gurgle, their first word, their first step. Each day is a progress and a testament that the baby is thriving under your care. One such milestone is Self-feeding. If your little one is ready to shift from breast-feeding or puree spoon-feeding, it is now time to introduce them to the independence of self-feeding. As much as every parent would want it to happen overnight, be ready for grabby, curious hands, along with messy faces and spaces, but happy revelations! Self-feeding is a milestone that is a process, one of patience and fulfilment.
Before we begin with tips to start self-feeding, below are a few frequently asked questions you will need to know.
When to begin self-feeding?
Experts say around 6 months is when the baby would be an appropriate time for your child to explore self-feeding. Basically, as soon as the baby could sit-up on its own and can swallow solid-foods.
Is teaching the baby baby-led weaning necessary?
While it is not compulsory to teach self-feeding, many experts advise baby-led weaning supports the development of hand-eye coordination, chewing skills, dexterity, and healthy eating habits. Every self-feeding session is an opportunity to explore the taste, texture, aroma, and colour of a variety of foods.
Which tools are necessary for self-feeding?
While the baby will use mostly its hands, it is always a good idea to include tools like utensils, highchairs and more to simplify self-feeding for both, parent and the baby. Read the blog for an in-depth list.
Now let’s read through 7 tips to encourage self-feeding in your child:
1. Patience Is Key
It is important to understand that the transition from spoon-feeding to fingers will take some time. Each child has their own pace, so don’t rush this, or your baby might give up before they even start!2. Finger Foods
The transition from mushy spoon fed paste to finger foods is going to make your child curious and more eager to eat. Use this opportunity to grow their love for food by making meals that they’d love! Veggies that are easy to chew like Avocado, zucchini, broccoli, sweet potato, etc with a nice dip can be great for starters! They are not only easy to eat, but dipping the veggies can be a fun activity for the child to keep him engaged and is also great for developing fine motor skills! Here’s a quick list of best baby-led weaning foods you can start with!
Choose your baby’s meal time wisely! Pick a time when they are active and in a good mood. This is when you have their full attention and will be ready for some self-feeding lessons!
4. Bribing Is A Big No-No!
We understand meal-time with your child can be a mammoth task, but avoid bribing them with sweets, screen-time or anything just to keep them distracted. It would be better if the baby is invested and aware of the food it is consuming. Plus, any distraction would in fact make it much slower.
5. Keep Them Engaged
Turn off the Television, keep your phone away! It’s time for an interactive meal session. Try to keep your baby away from all distractions to make sure their focus remains solely on All Things Food! Play games with them, like asking them to grab a food item from your hand, asking them to try giving you a small bite, a countdown for every bite can be fun too!
6. Don’t Force Feed
Let your child get hungry enough before mealtime. Teaching them not to waste food is a great habit to inculcate, but avoid pressurizing them to eat or finish the meal if they are full. This will make them grumpy and your mission will take a back seat!
7. Designate Them as Your Sous-Chef
It’s never too early to introduce them to cooking! While this may take some time, ask your little one to assist you during meal prep. Take their help for small tasks. This will build their love and curiosity for food and will be more willing to eat something they have helped in making
The right encouragement and lot of patience will be the key to accomplishing self-feeding and you could soon move on to your next milestone soon enough!