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Ways to Introduce Self-Feeding in Infants

Ways to Introduce Self-Feeding in Infants

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You might have observed your little one toying with a bowl of food, trying to use a spoon or grasping a fork. This is an indication that the baby is exploring its environment, and more importantly, attempting to learn and eat on its own.

Monday, June 25th, 2018

Self-feeding is an important learning process in a baby’s life. There are many advantages of introducing this step right from an early age.

First, the baby starts developing the habit of being independent, at least in the sphere of eating. When babies eat on their own, they become a part of the process and eagerly participate in the activity.

Second, in the process that leads up to self-feeding, babies develop hand-eye coordination. In the initial stages, babies may find it difficult to scoop a cereal with a spoon or stab a pea using a fork. Eventually, babies learn the techniques and the delicate movements necessary to grasp a spoon, scoop food from a bowl and bring it closer to the mouth.

A major benefit of self-feeding is that you allow the baby to decide how much food he/she needs.

Here’s how you can inculcate the habit of self-feeding in your child.

1. The right time to begin self-feeding

There are few things that you need to consider before you start teaching the process of self-feeding to your baby. Wait until the infant is 8-10 months old. By this time, the baby is physically ready for self-feeding. You will observe that your child is sitting upright, picking and grabbing nearby objects, bringing them closer to the mouth and even biting them. All of these signs suggest that your baby is ready to begin the journey of self-feeding.

2. Lead by example

One of the best ways to teach babies is a demonstration. Show your child how to hold a small piece of the food item, a spoon or a fork. Allow them to toy with it. They will struggle in the beginning. Give them time to learn and experience things on their own. Babies eventually figure out the best way that suits them.

3. Finger, Spoon and Fork.

Train your child to use his/her fingers, spoon and fork. Demonstrate how a spoon can be used to scoop something. You can show how forks can be used with finely chopped solid items like fruits and vegetables. Increase the level of difficulty with every successful learning stage.

You can also hold an item in your hand and ask them to grab it. It is necessary for babies to discover the subtle movements of feeding using their fingers. The experience will last forever.

Try different varieties of food that vary in consistency- vegetables, fruits, purees, porridges. Introduce food of different colours and textures. This aids in the process of learning. Babies get to use their fingers, spoons and forks and develop motor skills needs for self-feeding. You can expect things to get a little messy. Don’t worry. It’s all part of the learning process. You will see that your baby is growing into an independent eater. When you have a feeding schedule in place, rest assured, over time, your baby will take care of its own feeding.

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