How did I encourage my then 7 month old to self feed?
One of the most common question I get to hear from fellow mommies and friends are how did I get my daughter to self feed. To be frank I pretty much did nothing (read a lot of cleaning the mess). Self feeding is a big deal for tired parents as it involves too much of work. I was pretty motivated as I could enjoy some “Me time” (as you call it) while they enjoy their meal. Yes, self feeding is a baby led activity. All you should and can do is give them their own time and let them explore.
How to teach them to self feed?
Look for these pointers before you initiate them to start self feeding.
- Baby can sit by themselves or 6 months old or more.
- Do not force feed or distract feed the baby.
- Do not rush, give the baby their own sweet time.
When do babies feed themselves?
Self feeding can be baby led as well as parents encouraging them to. My little one started self feeding from 7th month. When the baby shows interest while you are eating then that’s the cue for you. Initially they use their whole hand in a raking motion which gradually changes to multiple fingers. This will evolve into a pincer grip. Pincer grip is a fine motor skill which is very important to the kids.
How to start?
- Make sure you are giving enough opportunities to the baby. Let them try, try and try, it is totally ok to let them struggle. That is how they learn. I gave my little one cheerios which was gluten free and made of whole wheat and less salt.
- Most kids are motivated to eat and eventually they figure out how to get it into their mouth.
- If the baby is not using the thumb and fingers then try placing just a single, slightly bigger piece of a fruit/cracker.
- And you notice they don’t get it still, just sit alongside with them and show them how it’s done. This is when the family meal time comes to help. Kids are so observant that they can imitate and learn.
Once the baby is comfortable with finger feeding you can try and move a step up and introduce to spoon feeding. Initially they struggle to handle the spoon and most of the food might end up on the floor. Hang in there and they will soon master it.
With all the pointers above you might need abundance of patience. Encouraging/teaching a baby to self feed is not an overnight task. It has its own set of struggle. A messy house, a messy baby and food all over the place except their mouth.
Tips and tricks to reduce mess (say atleast 50%)
- Use a booster chair/ high chair so that they are confined to one place and you will have a lesser place to clean up.
- Overall bibs might help as you can save all that extra bath time after every meal (This was a life savior for me as I ended up giving bath 3times a day!!!).
- You can place the booster seat/high chair over a mat which can be easily wiped and tada you are good to go.
Hope this article could be of some help to you all. Do share your reviews in the comments section below and let me know if you need anything more.
This article is featured in mycity4kids as well. You can follow me there for more updates.