Independent eating

For all the love he has for food and eating, LO isn’t one to grab the fork and spoon and insist on feeding himself. Even as a little baby, he didn’t take to eating with his hands until much later and preferred being spoon-fed.

Now we try to get him to eat on his own as much as possible. He has started mastering using a fork to poke diced food such as pears, strawberries and pancakes. As for the spoon, he’ll use it to scoop his oatmeal, yogurt, mashed sweet potatoes and sticky meals such as risotto. He still uses his hands for food like berries or bread and has started holding a banana and eating it like you and I do (we just help him out by peeling the skin).

Even though he has taken to drinking from his cup at the dining table more often (as opposed to using the sippy cup), he doesn’t really hold the cup on his own, so we have to hold it for him. Weirdly, when we gave him a cup of Jamba Juice smoothie, he not only held the cup himself but batted our hands away when we offered to help him hold it. Maybe he realizes how “spillable” water is whereas smoothies are thicker and won’t splash you in the face.

As for more complicated meals like fish and rice, we scoop the food onto his spoon and hand it to him to feed himself. I realize there are kids who sit in their high chairs eating spaghetti with their hands and how this is a good tactile experience. And maybe LO isn’t in a rush to eat by himself because we don’t really let him get too messy. But I just couldn’t deal with cleaning up that kind of mess, both on LO and having to clean the carpet, dining table, chairs and who knows what else the food smears and splatters on. So for now we place the food on his fork or spoon and hand it to him to put it in his mouth.

I’m sure as LO gets older, he’ll feel more comfortable and adept at feeding himself with utensils and drinking from a regular cup. At least we know that not doing so hasn’t kept him from enjoying his meals!

How do kids typically handle meal times and self-feeding? What tips have worked to encourage independent eating?

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