This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
As your child moves into foods that they can pick up, you should let them start to feed themselves.
When a child first moves into solid foods after breastfeeding and/or bottle feeding, the foods that you feed to your child are going to be pureed, and fed with a spoon. Your child won’t be able to feed themselves these foods at their small age as they won’t be able to hold the spoon and pick up the food.
Once your child moves onto more physical and solid foods, they will quickly learn to be able to pick up the foods that you place on the table in front of them. As your child begins to pick these foods up, you should let them start to feed themselves for the most part - there’s no need for you to insert yourself into the equation. There are a few reasons for this.
First off, your child is learning new things about the world and how they work. Letting them explore different textures and tastes on their own is a great way for them to learn about food. Sure, they may have trouble getting things into their mouth at first, and you should certainly help them if they’re not getting anything in, but let them try it on their own first so they can learn what this foreign food is they’re now getting.
Additionally, your child is learning how to independently feed themselves. While it will still be a few years before you can completely leave them alone while they eat, you are going to get back an hour or two a day by letting your child feed themselves. It can make a huge difference in your mental health being able to sit with your child while they eat and you can rest or relax a little bit. You may also want to get something else done around the kitchen. Whatever it is, you’ll find that you’ll have a little more time to do the things you want while your child is eating.
Finally, kids need to learn how to eat different types of foods and figure out if they like them or not. While they could do this if you were feeding them, they’ll learn a lot more on their own by experimenting with the foods you give to them. It’s pretty fun to watch what faces your child makes, and see what they like (or don’t like) from the faces that they make.
While you let your child eat on their own, you still need to watch them. Kids are still learning to chew food and swallow larger chunks while they are still young. If you haven’t yet, make sure you learn CPR just in case. Don’t leave the room while they are eating - keep the child in your sights.
Furthermore, things are going to get a bit messy around the house for a while where your child is eating at. Expect some large messes after your meals. As your child will likely throw foods they don’t like, you’ll be cleaning up several places after meals - cleaning up after messy eating kids could last for awhile, but when they’re older, you can teach them to clean up after themselves.
A child eating on their own is an exciting time. Don’t be afraid to let them do it on their own, and enjoy a few minutes of downtime.