Independent eating will provide your baby with many benefits. Once your little one can feed themself, they will start to explore the texture, color, temperature, and smell of food, and they might become more open to different dishes and flavors.
Also, sitting down for mealtimes without help will allow your child to become more in tune with their hunger cues and encourage them to stop eating when they feel full. Every child will develop at their own pace, but there are tactics you can introduce to help them feed themselves. Continue reading to learn how to encourage a baby to eat independently.
Improve Their Highchair Support
If your baby appears too small in their highchair, they might need more support during mealtimes. Help them sit up straight by adding a small cushion onto the seat or pad out the space behind them with a towel or rolled-up muslins.
Welcome Messy Mealtimes
Messy mealtimes can help develop your child’s fine motor skills. It will allow your baby to touch, smell, and play with textures, making them feel more comfortable with meals or snacks before placing them into their mouth. Allow a little extra time during breakfast, lunch, and dinner for your child to play with their food and clean up their mess.
Lead by Example
Babies will learn by example. If possible, try to sit together as a family every mealtime, as it will provide them with guidance on how to use cutlery, tackle various foods, and adopt good table manners. You can trust your baby will want to watch you or their siblings at dinner, and they might attempt to copy you each mealtime. After a few days or weeks of watching, your child might start to use a spoon or fork unaided.
Choose the Right Weaning Cutlery
The correct baby weaning cutlery can support independent eating. For example, you can purchase silicone weaning spoons that will feel soft against your baby’s gums while helping them scoop meals with minimal frustration. Also, you can choose a fork and spoon set with a curved design, which will make it easier for tiny hands to hold the cutlery and place food in their mouth with much success and less mess.
Don’t Stress at Mealtimes
As eager as you might be for your child to eat independently, you must remain calm during mealtimes. Toddlers might resist holding a spoon or fork, as they might prefer for you to feed them. Rather than battling each day, you must provide a little one with the freedom to master the skill over time.
Every child develops at their own pace, and they might not feel ready to feed themselves right now. If this is the case, continue to provide cutlery at mealtimes and they will eventually pick it up. Also, offer many finger foods to allow them to handle items alone, such as chopped soft vegetables, berries, avocado, cubes of cheese, and shredded chicken, to name a few options.