Encouraging Your Baby to Feed Himself
By the time your baby reaches six months of age, you will notice certain developments that may change his mealtimes and eating habits considerably. With strengthened back and neck muscles, your baby may be able to support his back and sit in a high chair. As his taste develops, appetite grows, and the hand-mouth coordination improves, he may be in a position to start feeding himself such as gnawing on finger foods, or eating mashed or pureed foods with a spoon. Since self-feeding can result in a messy situation, be prepared to handle it. To make feeding process less cumbersome for yourself while helping your little one to learn to feed him, follow these helpful tips.
- Keep a safe, stable, easy-to-clean high chair especially for your baby.
- Purchase small plastic spoons, shatter-proof plates, and unbreakable plastic cups with tight-fitting lids. These cups will be safe and easy for your baby to use when you are trying to wean him off of the bottle.
How to Encourage Self-Feeding
- Start by offering finger foods which are firm (but not hard) so that your baby can easily hold and chew them. Thin slices of apples, carrot sticks, chunks of cheese, and bananas are nutritious choices. Do not give hard foods such as nuts, or food pieces which are too small, unpeeled fruits or those with seeds, as these may cause your baby to choke.
- Keep a close eye on baby while he eats to prevent any chance of him choking or gagging. It is not uncommon in babies to gag and push out excess food with their tongue if they feel full. This behavior will become less frequent with time as baby learns to chew and swallow food properly.
- Allow baby to use his hands to eat if he wishes and ignore the mess he creates. It is more important for him to practice and learn to eat better than to be concerned with his messy eating.