Parents often ask me for advice about how to encourage their child to self-feed.
Common questions include:
• Should I force her to feed herself?
• Should I let him go hungry, so he starts self-feeding?
• Should I introduce utensils or let him use his hands?
• What if she doesn’t eat enough?
The answers are no, no, yes and worry-not.
Babies should be provided with opportunities to self-feed as early as possible. Babies and children that are allowed independence and control of their eating tend to be happier and more adventurous eaters. They are also better at regulating their hunger and satiety cues.
Self-feeding is a developmental process. It can start by simply allowing your baby to hold their own bottle or your breast. Some babies initiate this themselves; others need gentle encouragement. Children with developmental delays or a disability may need extra support to become involved in their feeding times. As soon as solid food is introduced, babies...