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Self-Feeding - Getting Your Baby to Eat Independently

Posted on April 27 2021

Your six-month old can start self-feeding with chunky strips, the progress to smaller bite-sized pieces as her motor skills improve.

 

Once your baby can hold his/her head steady, sit up and swallow food, he/she can self-feed. Babies usually unlock this achievement around six to eight months. Signs that your little one is ready to try self-feeding include grabbing the spoon while you’re holding it, reaching for food from his/her or your plate and picking up other objects and putting them in his/her mouth.

 

Benefits of Self-Feeding

 

While baby-led weaning or self-feeding can be very messy, your little one gets to try a range of temperatures and textures, while developing fine motor skills. Your baby will also be able to better understand feeling hungry or full.

 

Choking and First Aid

 

When self-feeding, do monitor your child closely and look out for signs of choking. He/she will be unable to make any noise at all as his/her airway is completely obstructed. Administer first aid while calling 995 for help. Place your baby face-down on your forearm, resting it against your thigh and deliver five quick and strong blows to the area between his/her shoulder blades with your free hand. Next, rest your baby facing upwards on your thigh, with his/her head lower than his/her chest. Press down five times on your baby’s breastbone - between and slightly below the nipples with your index and middle fingers. Repeat both steps until the object has been dislodged. Refrain from giving your baby foods such as nuts, raisins, popcorn, hot dogs and raw carrots that he/she could choke on.

 

Self-Feeding: Fine Motor Skill Development

After lots of practice, your baby will eventually be able to pick up the food in a pincer grasp and feed himself with a spoon later on.

 

Initially, your baby will grasp the food with his/her fist, then progress to opening the hand flat against the mouth. Eventually, your little one will be able to rake the food towards his/her mouth with his/her fist and in a pincer grasp later on. Let your little one practice these skills at the beginning of the meal, where he/she will be more food motivated. The food can be served cold, room temperature or warm. It’s fine if your little one plays with the food rather than eating it - solids supplement your baby’s diet of breast or formula milk until they’re a year old. Children may also need to try a food 10 - 15 times before they accept it.

 

Essentials for Self-Feeding

 

Sitting Upright

For small apartments, versatile options include the Chicco Baby Hug 4-in-1 Air, which transforms from a crib to a highchair.

 

Have your little one sit in a highchair before feeding him/her solids. One great option is the Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair ($389), suitable with accessories for babies to adulthood. Similarly, the Oribel Cocoon ($299) transforms from a comfortable recliner to a feeding chair with a food and cup holder and magnetic stow away tray. Hence, your little one can join you at the table when he/she is old enough or catnap beside you in his/her recliner. Babies can happily explore textures and foods on the magnetic tray.

 

Another option is the Chicco Baby Hug 4-in-1 Air ($504), a multi-tasking solution great for small homes and apartments, for sleep and feeding. Feed your little one from the highchair, adjustable to fit any table, or lower it to use as a table chair.

 

Other Highchairs and Booster Seats: Stokke Clikk, Stokke Steps, and Babybjörn Booster Seat

 

Bibs

Silicone bibs with wide mouths at the bottom can catch stray bits of food and are easy to clean.

 

To reduce cleanup after meals, protect your little one’s clothes with a long-sleeved bib, which covers his/her back, front and arms while still letting him/her move freely. For example, the Babybjörn Long Sleeve Bib ($39.90) is free from harmful substances and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 approved. Another option is Kushies Clean Bib ($18.90 to $24.90), with a lightweight fabric and a catch-all pocket.

 

Use Naturebond Silicone ($16.90), the Kushie Silicatch Bib ($21.90), Viida ($24.90), and Mushie Silicone Baby Bibs ($19.90) to catch food and spills. Made of high quality and durable FDA approved food grade silicone, these bibs are designed with wide catchment areas for falling food. These are also 100 per cent waterproof and easy to clean.

 

Meal Prep

Use the Babycook Solo to steam cook foods in under 15 minutes.

 

Prepare soft and easily mashed foods using the Béaba Babycook Solo ($259). With the patented steam heating system, cook fruits, vegetables, meat or fish in less than 15 minutes. The Babycook Solo can also defrost and reheat small jars or food portions. Easily meal prep for your little one in the large 1,100 ml graduated bowl. Store the other portions in various containers like the Béaba Multiportions Silicone ($33.50). Keep these in the refrigerator for up to two to three days, and in the freezer for three months. Refrigerate freshly cooked baby food within two hours to prevent bacteria from growing.

 

Self-Feeding: With Hands

These great tasting Kiddylicious Wafers are thick enough for little hands to grasp.

 

Great first foods include ripe, soft bananas, avocados or peaches. Other options are soft, cooked sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, apples, whole grain pasta, chicken, fish or turkey. Isolate one or two pieces and let your baby grasp them with his/her thumb and forefinger.

 

Coat soft foods like mangoes and tofu in ground whole grain cereal, crackers or wheat germ. This helps your little one better grasp the food while making it more nutritious. From thick strips, progress to smaller, bite-sized pieces for him/her to self feed. Let your little one try nutritious snacks like Kiddylicious Wafers ($10.90), Chunky Puffs ($2.90), Straws ($3.30), or Piccolo fruit blends ($4.90). At about six months, your baby can also start drinking about 120 to 180 ml of water from a sippy cup.

 

Recipes: Baby Food Kitchen ($34.90), and Beaba Babycook My First Meal Recipe Cookbook ($50)

 

Self-Feeding: With Utensils

Start the day with a nutritious breakfast like the HiPP 7-Grain Cereal, comprising 96 percent organic wholemeal cereal.

 

Once your baby has mastered feeding him/herself with his/her hands, offer utensils. Over time with lots of practice, he/she will learn the motions and understand how to feed him/herself. Most children become proficient with utensils by around 2 years old. Good practice foods include oatmeal or mashed sweet potatoes, HiPP Organic Good Night Milk Pap Oat-Apple ($8.95) and Cereal Flakes 7 Grain ($7.90). Guide his/her hand towards the food and move the utensil to his/her mouth. When he/she can do this independently, scoop some food from your bowl into his/hers. Let your baby practice feeding from his/her own bowl, gradually reducing the amount in your bowl until he/she can mostly feed him/herself.

 

Utensils

The slight arc, bumps and non-slip grip make self-feeding easier for little ones.

 

Try the 100 per cent food grade silicone EZPZ Tiny Spoons ($21.50), with a non-slip grip, short and fat handle so your baby can easily hold the spoon. The bumps on the spoon bowl and on the bottom decrease the likelihood of gagging and choking, and stabilise it when at rest.

 

Additionally, the Kushies Silibend Bendable Spoon ($14.90) can be bent in varying angles and work well for both right- and left-handed children. Another option is the Mushie Silicone Feeding Spoon ($14.90), where the soft silicone tip protects your little one’s emerging teeth and sensitive gums.

 

Plates and Bowls

The award-winning Viida Soufflé Tableware set features an antibacterial stainless-steel interior for the bowl, plate, cup and utensils.

 

Reduce spills and messy clean ups with the Mushie Silicone Plate ($24.90). The suction keeps it in place regardless of your little one’s efforts to dislodge it, and it’s also microwave and dishwasher safe for your convenience.

 

Comprising a bowl, plate, cup and utensils, the award-winning Viida Soufflé Tableware set ($110) aims to reduce mealtime stress. Some features include a thick, high-rim design to help your little one drink, as well as inner curves to help him/her scoop the food. Not only is the stainless-steel interior non-toxic and resistant to corrosion, lab results also show that it’s 99 per cent resistant to bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.

 

Relevant Reads: Baby Led Weaning: Tips and Tricks, Baby Food Cooking Hacks, and Weaning and Introducing Solids

Credits: Vanessa Loring, Chloe Guo, Maria Karina, Calista Low, Vera,  Sng Yixin

 

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