Why It Is Important for Your Toddler’s Development?
While children may be born totally dependent, it isn’t long before they are looking for ways to exercise their own opinions and control their environment. Self-feeding is one of these areas and is an important part of your toddler’s development.
By learning to self-feed, your toddler is learning to care for themselves. They are learning depth perception and eye -hand coordination while learning to pick up a piece of cereal and put it into their mouth. Multiple functions are used as they learn to pick up an eating utensil and struggle to keep the food on it while they feed themselves. 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.
Not all babies develop at the same rate
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
You can encourage self-feeding in your baby by giving them foods which are easy to hold such as a teething biscuit or cracker. Allowing them hold onto a spoon while you’re feeding them can encourage them to try to feed you too. 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!
Messes are a part of natural learning. You can avoid some of the mess by putting a shower curtain or sheet under their high chair. This will catch the food which will inevitably fall to the floor, making it much easier to clean up.
Expect frustration meltdowns!
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 master as they develop and grow. Continue to offer 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.
Remember this is a learning process. It will not happen overnight and there will be setbacks. Gentle encouragement is the best long term solution. I promise you that you will not be going to kindergarten with your little one to feed them lunch!
What tips do you have for teaching your little one to self feed? What finger foods have you found easiest for little ones to use to develop self feeding?