Babies are messy. It’s just a fact of life. When they’re learning to self-feed, the messes can get… well, downright messy. Nevertheless, with the right tools, the task gets easier, encouraging your little one to eat on their own!
In this blog post, we’ll share some of our favorite feeding gear, bibs for babies and toddlers, and more to help encourage your toddler to take charge of their meals. Read on for tips and recommendations to make mealtime less daunting for the both of you.
Self-Feeding Must-Haves: Silicone Baby Bibs and More!
Although some suggest waiting until your little one is at least a year old to self-feed, you may also give self-feeding a try when your baby begins to practice a pincer grip—this ability will let them pick up the food and place it in their mouths. To make the feeding activity go smoother, here are some must-haves you can invest in.
High-Quality Silicone Bibs
You can save yourself from a huge mess by investing in bibs for babies and toddlers. Choose the ones that are made of baby-friendly materials and with cute designs. To make cleaning easier, use silicone bibs with a dishwasher-safe design, and get ones with a huge food catcher.
Portable High Chair
For high chairs, pick one with a portable design, so you have something to use whether you are eating indoors or outdoors. Get the high chair with a tray, so even when your little one loses their grip on their treat, it won’t go straight to the floor but on the tray instead.
Bent or Baffle Spoon and Fork
Some utensils are bent at a 90-degree angle, so babies don’t have difficulty maneuvering their hands and arms to put the baby utensils in their mouths. Meanwhile, utensils with baffles prevent babies from pushing the utensils too deep into their throats.
Suction Plates and Bowls
Suction is added underneath baby bowls and plates to avoid accidentally spilling food. A suction bowl is great for mashed foods and cereals, and plates with dividers keep various treats separated. Make sure to pick brightly colored plates and bowls or those designed with your baby’s favorite character to encourage them to eat.
Hand over sippy cups to keep your little one hydrated and exposed to fresh and healthy juices. You can get a straw cup, or get others that mimic grown-up cups. With the huge number of choices, pick ones that are visually appealing, spill-proof, and BPA-free.
Benefits of Self-Feeding
Once you’ve completed your baby’s mealtime must-haves, it is time to begin their self-feeding journey. As you dine with them, you’ll witness every milestone your baby goes through when it comes to eating. Here are some of the changes and developments you can expect just by letting your little eater dine on their own.
Development of fine motor skills
Your baby’s self-feeding journey may begin with using their hands to grab and put treats into their mouth. But as you give them a spoon and fork and guide their use, they’ll eventually learn. Their development will move from using bent spoons and forks to using ones with a regular straight handle. As these developments occur, their fine motor skills are also sharpened.
Early freedom and decision-making practice
Although picking baby food may seem mundane, this is an early practice for your little one’s freedom and decision-making. When you serve a variety of solid food, your baby will explore tastes, and they’ll be able to decide which food they like best and which they dislike.
Development of healthy eating habits
By choosing what they like and don’t like to eat, or by deciding when to keep eating and when to stop, your little one develops healthy eating habits that will benefit them as they grow. As a parent, your role is to provide support and not to force or pressure them during mealtime. While rewarding or bribing them to eat something they do not like is easy, the tactics will not work long-term. Explaining the benefits of consuming what you prepare and modeling healthy habits are better ways.
Opportunity to bond
As your baby grows, they become increasingly social, and communing at a dining table can be their earliest form of socialization. It is an opportunity for the whole family to bond with the baby. Dining together is also an opportunity for them to copy what you do.
Tips to Encourage Your Toddler to Self-Feed
Do the benefits sound good to you? While some babies and toddlers find self-feeding exciting and easily learn how to feed themselves, some struggle to transition. Whether your baby classifies with the first or the second, these tips can help encourage your little one to eat independently.
Use child-friendly feeding tools: Your little one will be more encouraged to eat when they see bright colored spoons, forks, plates, bowls, and cups.
Fixed mealtimes: Train your little one’s mind and body to follow mealtime schedules by dining at the same hours for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.
Prepare food for the eyes and the stomach: For your child’s nutrition, go the extra mile with preparing nutritious food and turning them into a work of art so that their food will be a feast for the eyes, and not just the taste buds.
Be a role model: Babies and toddlers are like sponges that absorb what they see around them. So lead by example on how to eat properly and healthily.
Begin Your Baby’s Self-Feeding Journey
It can be daunting to introduce your baby to self-feeding, but with the right tools and a positive attitude, it can be a fun and rewarding experience for you and your child. Self-feeding is an important milestone for babies and toddlers. It helps develop fine motor skills, early freedom and decision-making, and gives the opportunity to bond.
We hope our list of essential items has helped give you an idea of what you will need to start. Be sure to check out our selection of high-quality silicone bibs here at Ashtonbee that make mealtime clean-up a breeze. Finally, relax and have fun with it! Your little one is bound to make some messes, but that’s all part of the learning process.