Food diversification naturally calls for baby's autonomy. Time and learning will allow him to progress from a motor skills and coordination point of view. Again, each baby advances at its own pace!
Imitation at the heart of learning
Know that the best baby models are you. By sharing your meals with him, he will take the opportunity to observe you and will want to imitate you to do like the grown-ups!
Between 8 and 12 months: the beginnings of autonomy
Food does not escape the curiosity of your baby. He has the reflex to seek food with his little fingers. This need to "fiddle" is completely natural for him.
At the same time as you feed him, leave him a small spoon so that he gets used to handling it by himself. He will have to acquire enough skill to fill his spoon with food himself and bring it to his mouth, without spilling it. This requires some coordination between the eye and the hand, which is difficult at first for your little one!
On the first attempts, the spoon will surely end up being empty, with a good chance that some of it ends up on the ground and gives you a little more cleaning work after the meal. That's the game !
To help him in this progression, offer him suitable dishes: a rimmed plate and a spoon with a handle to facilitate gripping.
From 12 months: an autonomy which develops
Your baby will be able to learn to drink alone by using a suitable and sparingly filled cup. He will gain confidence in himself and will gradually manage to eat his plate alone but will always need your presence by his side in case of difficulties.
A tip to improve your learning? Provide him with a dinette so that he can practice handling all the necessary utensils in a fun way. And as a bonus, there will be no cleaning to do right after.
Around 2 years: baby asserts his autonomy
Baby is getting big! He uses the fork to prick food and the knife to push it, but he will still need some dexterity to learn how to cut.
Nothing like letting him train with a small knife and plasticine.
At 3 years old: baby is independent to eat
That's it ! Baby is more independent, even if the knife still requires some control and insurance. Encourage him in these learnings: let him serve himself directly in the dishes with the serving cutlery, pour water in his glass and use cocoa powder in his bowl of milk.
Give your baby the opportunity to practice, it is the best way to learn even if it causes small household inconveniences. Rather, think of encouraging and congratulating him! Exclamations of the type "Eat cleanly!" ", " be careful ! »,« Stop, you put it everywhere! "Are sometimes unavoidable, but look on the bright side: out of 7 spoonfuls, 3 arrived safely, it's not bad for a start!
Fewtrell, M. Bronsky, J. Campoy, C. « et col. » Complementary Feeding: A Position Paper by the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) Committee on Nutrition. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 2017
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