In order to have a healthy baby, you have to start with good nutrition from the beginning. That’s where self-feeding comes in – it allows your baby to become familiar with eating as soon as possible so he or she can enjoy the benefits of healthy eating that much sooner. In this how-to, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to teach your baby to self-feed so you can start improving your baby’s eating habits as soon as possible!
Select Finger Foods
While your baby still has a great deal of growing left to do, it’s never too early to introduce finger foods. Instead of plopping tiny pieces of meat into her little hands, try giving her tiny versions of adult food. She might just gobble them up without even realizing that she’s eating! Just remember that every baby is different, so don’t feel rushed into offering solid foods before your doctor tells you it’s time. You’ll know she’s ready when she starts showing signs of being able to sit up on her own and hold her head steady. Avoid choking hazards by selecting small finger foods—preferably ones with holes in them so your baby can pick them up easily.
Hold It Up to Baby’s Mouth
When baby is around six months, place small pieces of baby foods (think homemade purees made from mashed sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.) on your finger and hold it up to his mouth. He’ll suck on your finger, get used to chewing, and—if he isn’t ready for solids—lick off what’s on his tongue. If you want him to self-feed but he doesn’t seem interested in trying it out independently, try feeding him with an innovative baby food bottle feeder or a spoon while you push puree into his mouth. He’ll get used to taking bites that way. Once he gets close enough to self-feeding age (usually around 9 months), try letting him hold onto a spoon while you feed him tiny bits of food.
Place Food In Their Mouth
Place food in your baby’s mouth and do not push it into their mouth. Place your finger under their chin and aim their head up and back as you place food onto their tongue. If they don’t swallow it right away, just take it out of their mouth and try again later. Let them taste different types of foods (cooked veggies, breads, rice, meats) to see what they like or don’t like. This will help them learn what tastes good and what doesn’t. They will also be able to learn how textures feel in their mouths; whether it is smooth or crunchy (for example). Over time, they will learn how and when to open up for more food.
Praise Them For Eating
Praise your baby for trying new foods, even if they don’t eat much. Forcing food on your baby won’t help them learn how to eat independently. If you have a fussy eater, pay attention to their cues—when they are hungry and when they are done eating. As long as you are feeding them healthy foods, self-feeding is an important skill for babies of all ages.
When your baby is older, it’s important that they learn how to self-feed. By doing so, you can encourage healthy eating habits and give them a sense of autonomy at an early age. With these tips and tricks, your baby will be self-feeding in no time! Enjoy!