On this page
Why Are Self-Feeding Skills Important For Babies?
Learning to self-feed is a very important development stage for your baby. It’s a time when your baby learns to eat independently and to develop life skills like co-ordination and motor skills by grabbing, holding and (eventually) using utensils and cups. Self-feeding involves lots of experimenting like touching, playing with and even throwing food around – yes it’s going to be messy!
Self-feeding will also be a time for your baby to start expressing his or her self. Every baby will have a different personality with different likes and dislikes, and this will of course involve food. Self-feeding encourages your baby to judge it’s own needs and to prevent over feeding; he or she can start deciding how much they want to eat and when they are full.
What to expect when children are learning to feed themselves?
By the time your baby is ready to start self-feeding he or she should be able to sit up independently and be showing an interest in eating solids Once your baby is comfortable eating a variety of solid foods, you can begin to teach your baby self-feeding skills by introducing finger foods which they can hold themselves. These can be small pieces of soft fruit or cooked veggies like sweet potato or pumpkin. Even grabbing and getting food to the mouth will be a great start to your baby’s hand-to-eye co-ordination!
Starting with finger food, then progressing to cups and utensils will take time for your baby to get the hang of, and there will be a lot of mess. You will need to have patience, and remember to capture the memories. Teaching your baby to feed independently is going to be time consuming, but the rewards of watching your baby develop through this crucial stage will be priceless.
How to handle mess and food play.
If this is your first child, and you’re anything like me, then the mess of teaching your baby to self-feed can be quite daunting. Playing with food is a natural way for your baby to learn about different textures and flavours, and they are going to dig there hands in and smear food over themselves, your furniture and the floor. The first rule is to stay calm and not get upset or excited. Your baby is just playing, which is their way of learning. Maybe you can put a plastic sheet under the high chair or some newspaper to limit the mess. Use a bib and keep a damp cloth handy.
The average age when your baby will become self-sufficient is between 18 and 24 months, but remember every baby develops at a different pace.
Independent eating assistance tools.
As with all things baby there are a number of tools to use to assist self-feeding. After finger foods its normal to try and progress to spoons and then forks. Try our Universal Food Pouch Spoons which can be used with any major brand food pouches to get your baby getting used to grabbing and putting the spoon in his or her mouth.
Our Cherub Baby Fresh Food Feeder is an ideal tool to start your baby with independent feeding with limited mess and fuss. You just simply fill the mesh with fresh cut fruit, vegetables or ice and let baby begin to taste & chew whole foods without the risk of choking on large pieces of food.
Remember to always supervise your baby when he or she is learning to self-feed as choking can be a real hazard. Avoid hard foods like nuts and raw carrots. But most of all ignore the mess and have fun!
Find out more about all the features of our Fresh Food Feeder!
Physical, Sensory and Oral Motor Developmen Learning to eat parallels physical, sensory and oral motor development. It is supported by repeat experiences but is not taug
Birch, L.L., & Doub, A.E. (2014). Learning to eat: Birth to age 2y. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99(3), 7235-7285. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.069047.
Collins, L.J., Lacy, K.E., Campbell, K.J., & McNaughton, S.A. (2016). The predictors of diet quality among Australian children aged 3.5 years. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.12.014.
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (2015). Healthy eating for infants, children and teenagers. Canberra: NHMRC. Retrieved 12 March 2019 from https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/eating-well/healthy-eating-throughout-all-life/healthy-eating-infants-children-and-teenagers.
Children learning to feed themselves