Updated: Nov 8, 2019
Im a bit late to the party, partly due to laziness on my part, I like feeding her and part laziness on her part , she likes getting fed. And also an excuse that we are doing Lazy Baby Weaning, so 90 % of her foods has been finger food and she's doing great with that. But she's seen us with a spoon, with cutlery and she wants in.
Spoonfuls of yoghurt are getting snatched away and communication from her is letting me know she wants to do it herself . She is pointing and grabbing at cutlery and happy when she gets a set. She is attempting and at times succeeding to feed herself. It really is a see - do desire to join in . It is just like when they wanted to eat what you're having, and I have to say I have capitalised on that. As I said I did baby led weaning. ,she got what we were having in cut up form. They now want to eat it as you are. Hand and eye coordination is kicking in and a sense of achievement and your praise is registering in the brain. It's wonderful, but how do you transition from you feeding them from the spoon to them doing it themselves.
Well, for one not quickly or cleanly so give up the idea that this is in any way going to be pristine transaction. It's going to be messy and missy as in they will miss more than they get it for a while. Here is how I have found to move from you doing it to I do it !
Give them something easy to begin with- It's a no brainer, you're not going to start with peas or fiddly stuff. Start with yogurt and liquidly things, porridge/ breakfasts are a great place for that. Give them more than they will eat as there is a lot of wastage. Baton down the hatches, cover the floor with plastic and off you go. Lots of praise to begin with even when they don't get it in. Let them know that they are doing great.
The P's - As you want them to actually get food in to stomach and them not be hungry (and as far as I know its not transferred through osmosis). Ive found remembering and using the P's is good.
Patience , they are going to get frustrated and so are you , so if you're not fussed , they will continue to keep trying
Persevere, If and when you have started this and it doesn't look like it's going well , don't give up, you guys have got this. Just wait till that lightbulb moment they get it and the sense of accompaniment they have is a real confidence boost.
Parental assistance - Its hard the co ordination , getting spoon to bowl , food to mouth and back again. So help as much as you can , tilt the bowl, get one that sticks to the table or tray so it doesn't move or get flung in frustration. Pop the food on the spoon and hand to your wee one to pop in mouth. Little helping hands to begin with before they get the hang of it.
Pairs- I find in the beginning to give them the spoon as they request it but have a spare nearby so they do a mouthful ( or cheek or ear etc ) and you do a proper mouthful so they feel like they are getting it but might not be but you are. I find they get less frustrated if they feel like they have control and a spoon in their hand, if not actually feeding themselves, calms the situation and your fears that they aren't getting to eat.
Watch and learn- eat with them , I am a huge advocate of this , especially with baby led weaning. I hate it when I see kids in a high chair alone in the room eating as parents don't eat with them or are waiting for another adult to eat with. Your child needs you , its social , its mimicking behaviour. Don't stick them in front of a tv or give them a screen. They need to be part of interaction that is meal times, the conversations and rhythms of family life. They need to eat their food as you would. See you eat all your vegetables people if you want them to . They need to see how to hold the cutlery, to twist it, balance it, use it together to gather the food. The whole meal time is a learning curve for them.
I touched on before but the lightbulb moment that they get this next phase in their development is wonderful. It's a great triumph for them and a hugely proud moment for you . Once they get the hang of it , the mess and the clean up lessens and the social interaction and yourself actually getting to eat hot food is a reality. The boost for their cognitive development in hand and eye co ordination leads to learning other skills in the future more easily. The confidence they have that they are a big person now is great for their standing in the family especially when new ones arrive ! Them eating unaided also opens up your choices for menu and going out to places as you are not reliant on baby food as such. You can go to a restaurants and teach them social graces and how to act in occasions. The world opens up as they leave baby stage
So don't be afraid the get down and dirty and allow them to explore and discover food. There will a transition period where everything including them and yourself and the floor and walls and cats and .... Will be cover with todays culinary choices but its part of growing up ! If they are ready and telling you , then give them a spoon.