Tips to encourage self-feeding in toddlers
Watching a baby grow is an amazing feeling. You become delighted to see every new thing they do in their growing years. Several things are worth freezing in your mind for eternity. If you are tagged by the feeling that self-feeding is a natural process that comes with age like a magical wand casting a spell, you have to evanesce that supposition. Self-feeding in toddlers is one of the biggest milestones for a child and the parent as well. It is a skill that is nurtured with repetitive practice.
How can you make your child begin self-feeding?
Setting aside time at the beginning of the meal is a fantastic way to inculcate the self-feeding habit. Wondering how? Your child might be hungry or the desire to eat the meal is strong, which is conducive for your little one to bring food to their mouth by themselves. Hence, they learn to feed themselves quickly with little to no hassle.
The first step towards self-feeding is by using one's hands. Encourage this by putting small pieces of food on the highchair tray. Your kid begins to pick up by using the palms and trying to put the food with the help of palms, which is known as “Palmar grasp”. Now, put pieces of food spread apart on the feeding tray, your child would learn to pick up food with the help of thumb and the forefinger, known as “Pincer grasp”.
By the time your child is between 18-24 months, he or she would be proficient with self-feeding with spoons and forks. If your child mastered the art of self-feeding by hand, unlock the next level! Offer toddler-friendly utensils and your baby will learn the motions and sequence of events that get the food into the mouth using the utensils.
Your baby would not become an expert in self-feeding by trying a couple of times. Let him or her take their time and perfect the skill by repetitive practice. Whether it is feeding with hands or with the help of utensils, your little one needs many opportunities to become a pro.
Monitor your child as he or she begins to eat more independently. Remaining by the side of your baby allows you to monitor the way of eating and tolerance for new textures. You can also be circumspect about the amount of food being put into the mouth.
It is important to starkly differentiate between gagging and choking. Gagging is the body’s natural defense against choking and is to be expected when babies start eating solids. Choking is when a piece of food becomes lodged in the airways and blocks breathing. Choking is life-threatening and requires immediate attention.
Don’t expect your child to eat tidily from day one. Invest in some good bibs or aprons so that the food doesn’t stick. You could put a cloth underneath the highchair and some wet tissues for use whenever needed.
Babies learn by modeling behaviors. If your little one is having meals with family, he or she will observe how everyone is utilizing their utensils and other appropriate mealtime behaviors.
Learning to feed by themselves takes time. Give the requisite amount of time for your child to finish the meal. Let them eat food at a pace they are most comfortable.
Self-feeding is a skill that every child needs to develop for later years of childhood and for life as well. It involves feeling the texture of food, holding it, putting it in your mouth, all of which help your child to develop fine motor skills. Self-feeding allows the child to learn about the taste, texture, temperature, and smell of different foods, which means it helps to make use of all the senses.