One of the activities carried out with babies and their parents or other caregivers is feeding. It’s adorable to see them chew and softly gulp as they take in what you feed them. Parents can experience this elation for a couple of months without getting tired of feeding their babies. But that time comes, when you ask – “When do babies feed themselves?”
An awakening and sometimes tiring situation is the unpredictable behavior of babies while being fed.
These behaviors could posit different meanings, but a major one you should watch out is your child wanting to feed himself.
This might seem to be an end to spoon-feeding your baby and a chance to start giving him control of certain things. To start with, let’s acquaint you with some benefits of self-feeding in babies so you can further relate as to why you should anticipate and patiently wait for your baby to start self-feeding.
Benefits of Self-feeding
Self-feeding is a big step in babies’ development. This habit encourages your baby to explore foods by touching, smelling, seeing, and tasting all by himself. You are probably thinking of the risk, and it can’t get messier than normal, be calm.
Overlooking the stress of having to clean up his eating spot and wash messy clothes, self-feeding is a remarkable development as it signals an important stage in his social and personal being.
Each step he takes towards self-feeding is a move towards being functional and active. Self-feeding further helps your baby begin to feel independent and controllable, giving him a basic sense of autonomy and control.
Additionally, the ability to self-feed helps your baby understand himself better. When in control of feeding himself, he is considered able to respond and act on cues for hunger and fullness. This particular helps and solves the uncertainty of whether your baby is filled up or still wants some more food.
When to expect your baby to self-feed
Having known these bunch of interesting benefits, it’s okay for you to feel eager on behalf of the little kid. But realistically, your baby has the final decision. He decides whether to yield to your teachings or stick to your motherly care of spoon-feeding for a little bit longer.
The determining factor, however, is that your child has to be able to sit on his own comfortably. This typically occurs around 8 to 12 months, and you can expect your baby to start self-feeding herself within this period.
As a beginner, expect your baby to start playing with his food with his fingers. Expect a lot of misdirections and get ready to wipe some goodies of his nose. Looking on the bright side though, these sights can be exciting.
While he gets messy and sometimes misses directions at this period, he is certain to improve on his motor skills in the 13th to 15th month. He will start using a light-weight spoon and can consistently use other utensils by 18 months. It’s important to reinstate that your kid has to be able to sit up comfortably and confidently for him to learn how to feed himself.
Just like other developments like walking and talking, self-feeding can be taught, but gradually. It’s advisable, to begin with, your baby trying his hands on solids before teaching him to use spoons. This helps him master grasping and handling different solids.
Self-feeding signs you should look out for
Concluding that your baby can start to self-feed can sometimes be vague and inaccurate. Try to study carefully and not mistake the steps he takes or movements he makes while being spoon-fed. They could be right or wrong. Here are a few signs you can look out for to be sure about his self-feeding status;
- When he draws your hand closer before reaching his mouth. This shows his eagerness and that he understands the basic process of taking food from the plate to the mouth.
- Eyes pinned on the food and utensil movements. Paying attention is the first stage of learning when it seems your baby is watching every move you take while feeding him; there are chances he’s willing and ready to start self-feeding.
- Trial and chaos: Sometimes you are ready to start feeding your baby and realize you forgot to pick his napkin, a minute and before you get back, he has already made a trial towards the opened flakes before him. This is a major sign and shows your baby is making moves. As a test of assurance, probably for dinner, try this again and see if he makes a move again. If yes, then he’s eager to self-feed.
Tips to encourage or propel self-feeding
As earlier stated, you can teach your baby to pick a green bean with a fork or scoop cereals in a spoon. This should be done patiently and gradually. Some of the tips you can consider are listed below;
- Position a bite or two before your baby. This propels him to act especially when he wants to eat
- Hold the piece of food in your hand and let your baby grasp from your fingers
- Hold food close to his mouth as though you’re tempting him and let him try leading your fingers to his mouth
Having read and understood this piece, understanding your kid would become easier, especially during mealtime. Try to ensure safety while trying these tips out and take extra precaution when your baby begins to self-feed on solids to prevent choking.