When should children start feeding themselves?
There is an easy answer to this question – basically it's when they want to. For a lot of kids it will be early. My girls, from an early age wanted to feed themselves. Little Miss Independent’s. This is a good thing, I know. But I will be honest with you – I found the mess in this stage really frustrating. I knew it was important but cleaning up is always anxiety-inducing for me. Putting my happy, calm parent hat on was important in this situation because it is a really important part of their development.
Your little one may start reaching out for the spoon or trying to take food off their plate soon after starting solids. It’s a good sign and important for them to do and should be encouraged. You can help them by showing them how to hold. However and whenever it happens, it's going to be messy.
Why is it important for kids to self-feed?
- Understanding the texture with fingers, holding food, spoons, sippy cups help with your baby’s fine motor development.
- Learning to be more independent, and doing things for themselves is important. For you and for them. These are skills they need as they get older.
- It’s a great way to learn about different food. We take our knowledge about food for granted but for them it’s all a new adventure. The taste, smell, texture and temperature of food is all new and they will soon learn what they like and don’t like. And it also eases them into the concept of “hot” and being careful around hot things.
Tips for teaching your child to self-feed
- Have a great bib – you need one of the ones that have a catch pouch and that are easy to clean.
- Start with finger foods that are small pieces of food like soft fruit or veg, easy for baby to pick up, hold and mash between their gums.
- Spoon interest will start earlier than ability. They won’t be able to properly hold a spoon until 18-24 months. By properly I mean holding it with food going in opposite direction of mouth. (I am almost 50 and I have the same issue sometimes, so no judgement here!) Give them a spoon to hang onto while you are feeding them so they can get the hang of it. But if it becomes too much of a distraction than stop.
- Put a mat, sheet or newspaper under the highchair for easy clean up. If you have a dog, you can probably bypass this step as it will be clean before you even finish the feed.
- When food drops on the ground, don’t make a fuss about it – you don’t want them to get scared by a frustrated response, but equally you don’t want to make a joke / game about it and them think its ok. They will follow whatever cues you give so either ignore it until meal time is done or quietly pick it up.
- Water can be introduced after 6months, filtered or boiled only. Not tap water. Get them a sippy cup so they can practise. Patience, guidance, time – the answer to everything. Let your little one practice with an empty cup first – just the holding. And then the first few times they use it properly, put only little bit of water in and show them how to hold it and bring it to their mouth and how to tip it for the water to come out. There is more face smacking than drinking at first but they will soon get the hang of it. It took my girls ages to get the sippy cup thing right but it eventually happened.
Patience, guidance, time. It’s a messy business but it is so important to let kids feed themselves. Its important for their development, independence, fine motor skills and also the start of their healthy food / eating habits.
- Start as you mean to go on - good food – fruit, veg, diary, meat, fish… All the good stuff.
- Be prepared for mess
- Avoid fruit juices, salt and sugar.
- Get non-breakable cutlery and tableware for them
- Make it enjoyable and celebratory for them - introduce kid friendly plates, cups and mats that they will love to see
- Get a great bib
- Start with finger food
- Slowly introduce the spoon when you see there is some interest
- When food drops on the ground, don’t worry about it.
- Water can be introduced after 6months, making it a good time to slowly start sippy cup usage
The Best Self-Feeding Products For Children
Your little ones will love snacking and dining in the clouds with these gorgeous placements. It's a great way to dress up their little eating area and make them feel super special. These are also very practical - food grade silicone so no bad chemicals, non slip and easy to clean. Practical and fun!
Make clean up after kids meal time easy with the We Might Be Tiny durable non-slip, silicone placemat. If it's too much to clean by hand, simply put the Bear Placie™ into the dishwasher. The toxic-free silicone makes it the logical choice for the conscious parent who places trust in the highest quality food-safe products.
This sweet and innovative sage-coloured Snuggle Bib will keep mealtime mess to a minimum while making it fun and beautiful. They are great because after they eat you can just rinse them or wipe them down and they will dry on the rack. The catch-all pocket will mean less floor clean-up as well! Great Size.
This sweet and innovative terracotta-coloured Snuggle Bib will keep mealtime mess to a minimum while making it fun and beautiful. They are great because after they eat you can just rinse them or wipe them down and they will dry on the rack. The catch-all pocket will mean less floor clean-up as well! Great Size.
This is a really great, hardwearing everyday tableware essential. Perfect for little (big) hands. This kids tableware set is essentially ageless. While the high sides make it perfectly functionally for a toddler to keep the food on the plate and not slide off onto the table, it is also the size that an adult will enjoy. Includes a suction cap so no flying saucers here!
The Best Self-Feeding Products For Children - We Might Be Tiny Feedie Fork and Spoon Set
The We Might Be Tiny Feedie Fork & Spoon Set ticks all the boxes as a baby’s perfect first cutlery set. The utensils are made from the highest quality stain-resistant silicone, which makes them extremely durable yet gentle on baby’s delicate gums. While the large grip handles perfectly fit your little one’s hand so they experience first self-feeding successes that will nurture their growing curiosity. You’ll love the handy slide-out travel case with cute bear sleepy eye details for when you are out and about.
The ergonomically designed We Might Be Tiny silicone Grip Cup is the perfect companion to evolve with your little ones as they progress from bottle or sippy cup to big-kid cup. It is an absolute essential. It's soft-to-touch finish helps small toddler hands with the perfect grip and prevents those spills that can upset littlies. And being shatter-proof means you don't need to be hovering when they need a drink.
Everything you need in one box - this 5-piece set features wide-based cups perfect for miniature hands to hold, and smooth cornered plate compartments making washing a cinch. This beautiful On Safari set brings animal prints and the earthy tones of the Serengeti together with some of the wildest, most majestic creatures on earth. This set of everything baby needs to start their foody journey
The We Might Be Tiny Stickie™ Plate puts your little muncher in charge at mealtime. Bear will bring a smile to even the fussiest of eaters! Each toxic-free Stickie Plate lets you neatly portion your foodie creations in three sections. The Stickie Plate can be easily secured to almost any solid surface with its inbuilt suction base that can withstand even the most determined toddler. Enjoy newfound confidence to safely turn your back without finding the plate and its contents flying across your kitchen like a frisbee.