When children are born they are completely dependent upon their parents to supply all of their needs. As they grow they begin to learn autonomy. Self-feeding is an important part of your toddler’s development.
By learning to self-feed, your toddler is learning to care for themselves. They have developed perception in being able to pick up a piece of cereal, they are able to put food into their mouth, and they’re beginning to learn to hold implements such as spoons. These are all important milestones because it proves your child is developing properly and will be able to learn to care for themselves as they continue to grow.
It is important to realize not all babies develop at the same rate. Some babies will be eager to do things for themselves while others will be content to let others to things for them. How do you determine whether your child is ready for self-feeding or not?
The following are some signs that your baby is ready to begin self-feeding:
- Your child will watch you eat and may try to take food from your plate
- Your child will try to hold a spoon and may try to mimic you
- Your child may let you know whether or not they are finished eating by saying “more” or “all done”
- Your child will indicate a preference for some foods and a dislike for others. They will make their desires regarding food known
Encourage self-feeding in your baby by giving them foods which are easy to hold such as a long cracker. Let them hold onto a spoon while you’re feeding them. Play pretend with your child acting like you’re eating.
Some children start to develop necessary skills to self-feed as early as 9 months. They can use a pincer grasp to pick up foods and may also be ready to drink from a sippy cup or a straw. Once your child learns they can feed themselves, they may decide they can do it all themselves and will let you know. “Me do it” is a common phrase for toddlers learning to self-feed.
Prepare for your toddler to make a mess! You can avoid some of the mess by putting a shower curtain under their high chair. This will catch the food which will inevitably fall to the floor, making it much easier to clean up.
You can also expect your toddler to be frustrated. They may have trouble getting their food in their mouths. If this is the case, do what you can to help them. Let them keep trying to feed themselves but be there to encourage them.
Self-feeding is something your child will learn as they develop and grow. Offer them nutritious foods that you want them to eat. They will eat when they’re hungry and will soon be letting you know when they’re ready to eat on their own.