Children have a natural drive for independence and control from a very young age, especially when it comes to eating. By allowing your child to self-feed and participate as fully as possible in the meal, you create valuable opportunities for children to be exposed to a variety of foods and practice essential skills.
To foster independent eating, provide your child with the right tools:
- Provide utensils that are easy for children to manipulate.
- If using a plate, choose a small plastic one. Use small plastic bowls and cups too. Use child sized spoons and forks made of metal or plastic. If children have not yet mastered spoons and forks, allow them to eat with their hands. Self-feeding facilitates acceptance of foods.
- Children learn skills by watching others and by trying the skills themselves. Model positive eating behaviors for your child. This means showing your child exactly what to do rather than just telling him what to do.
- After age 18 months, try to avoid feeding your child as much as possible. Developmentally, children at this age are ready to be fully independent eaters.
- It's OK to get messy! The sensory experience of getting messy can foster greater exposure to and acceptance of foods. Allow your child to attempt self-feeding as much as possible, even it means making a mess.
|Sassy Less Mess Toddler Self-Feeding Spoon|