When your child starts eating independently, it is certainly one of the big milestones in their development. And it also marks a time when you are not totally responsible for their feeding, though, of course, there will be a lot of mess involved to start off with! So, whether with items of cutlery or their fingers, you will want to encourage them to eat independently as best you can. Teaching these skills early will help your child long into the future, so here are some of the top ways in which you can do this.
Self-Feeding with Cutlery
To start off with, you should give your child a stable base from which they can feed themselves. So, take a look at this guide to find the perfect baby chair. When you are trying to help them to use a spoon, it is a good idea to start off with sticky food like mashed potato or porridge that won’t easily fall off. To begin with, you can load the spoon yourself and then they can put it into their own mouth. Remember that they will make a lot of mess to begin with, so you need to be very patient when you are teaching these skills. When it comes to choosing the right sort of cutlery, you are best off choosing something that is fairly chunky to start off with. You could try one with a short handle that makes it easier for them to reach their mouth. You should also go for a child-friendly bowl – preferably one that will stick to the tray on the high chair so it doesn’t cause difficulty. And this also helps to stop them throwing the bowl on the floor which is always a bonus!
Including a wide variety of finger foods into the regular mealtimes of your child is a great idea to help them learn about different tastes and textures. Crunchy foods such as toast and rice cakes make an ideal starting point, and then you can start to build in alternatives such as cubes of mild cheese, french fries and healthy food like chopped fruit. As your child starts to become used to feeding themselves with their hands, you can start getting more creative by introducing them to things like mini sandwiches.
Using a Cup
Many dental experts believe that you should wean your babies of bottles at the age of around 12 months. To replace this, you can start teaching them to drink water or milk from a cup. You can get one with helpful features like a built-in straw and a big handle to make it easier for them to hold. Again, expect plenty of spills before they develop this particular skill!
Setting a Good Example
Try to eat together as a family so that your child has the opportunity to watch his or her parents using cutlery and feeding themselves. Over time, your child may well want to start following the good example you are setting for them.