Learning to self-feed at mealtime is big milestone for your little one—and for you!
Encouraging babies and toddlers to feed themselves has benefits that go far beyond nutrition. Sensory skills are developed through smell, colour, texture, taste and temperature as well as fine motor skills through touching, grasping, spooning, squeezing—and, of course, dropping. In addition, children learn to tune into hunger cues when they are in control of their food intake and learn to stop eating as their tummies become full.
These are my top tips and tricks to help you and your little one get on your way:
- Set regular mealtimes. Children like predictability, so set up a daily mealtime schedule that suits your family's routine. A relatively hungry child is a motivated self-feeder, so try allowing 2-3 hours between snacks and mealtimes.
- Set them up for success by serving the right stuff. Soft and safe foods are an ideal place to start with small portion sizes to build confidence and keep them motivated. Introduce new foods one at a time, pairing with something that they know and enjoy.
- Embrace family mealtime. Family mealtimes are a lot more than just food. It is a chance for you to role model and help you child learn even if they are not eating a full meal. It encourages mimicking and provides them with an opportunity to observe and participate in the social interactions.
- Don't mind the mess. It is hard, but babies and toddlers learn by making a mess. It is all part of your little one's development. Try being as ready for it as possible. Using a high chair food catchers, smocks and catcher bibs go a long way in helping manage the mess and your stress levels during mealtimes.
- Be prepared. Avoid multiple disasters by having all the essential food and equipment ready before you bring your child to the table.
I have designed a new baby and toddler training range to best support you and your little one in building independence whilst reducing the mess. The best part is that it’s all dishwasher safe, making clean-up a breeze.
Safety Tip: Always keep a close eye on your child when they eating or drinking to prevent an accidental fall from a high chair and to reduce the risk of choking.