One of the most common questions I get asked is… “How can I teach my child to feed themselves?” Self-feeding is a big deal for tired parents of babies, toddlers, and in some cases, older kids! I was motivated to teach my own kids at a young age because that meant I could sit back and enjoy my own meal again… well, mostly. It is also a skill I have worked on, A LOT, with kids of all ages and abilities as an occupational therapist.
How to Teach Self-Feeding for Babies, Toddlers, and Beyond
In this complete self-feeding guide, I’ll tell you how to teach your baby or toddler to:
- finger feed
- eat with a spoon
- eat with a fork
Each are actually their own independent skill, and they’re typically achieved at different ages. I’m giving you the age guidelines to look for as your child works towards mastering feeding themselves and my OT/Mom strategies for how to help them learn those skills. Of course, I’ll share the best utensils for babies and toddlers learning to self feed, too! So, let’s get started…
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When do Babies Start to Feed Themselves with Their Fingers?
Most babies start feeding themselves those little melt-able puffs right off their tray around 8 months. Initially, you will notice that they grasp the food with their whole hand in a raking motion. They often get a bunch in their hand at once and will try to shove their whole hand into their mouth.
This is a fairly ineffective method, but they manage.
Over the next few weeks and month or two, they will begin to use multiple fingers to pick up food, instead of their whole hand. They’ll continue to refine that movement until they use just their index finger and thumb in a pincer grasp (see the pic below) around 9 months old (but it could range from 7-11 months).
The pincer grasp is important because is lays the foundation for future fine motor skills like writing. Find out more about when to give finger foods to your baby and how to teach them to eat finger foods.
How to Teach Your Baby/Toddler to Use their Fingers to Self-Feed
If your baby or 1 year old isn’t making any effort to use their fingers to feed themselves, make sure you’re giving them opportunity to try and try again, even allowing them to struggle a little. That is how they learn! Give them foods like puffs that are dry and big enough to pick up, but not so big they could choke. (I also like to use these cheese curls or pea crisps designed for babies broken into small pieces).
Most kids are motivated to eat and will figure out how to get it into their mouth. For those that want to eat, but can’t figure it out, the problem sometimes arises with the pincer grasp.
If they aren’t isolating their finger and thumb, set aside some time at the beginning of their meal to give them one piece of food at a time. Try placing one singular puff on their tray first, without a boat load of puffs, they may isolate those fingers for you. If they don’t use the pincer grasp, hold it up in front of them, because it’s easier to grab it out of your fingers instead of off their tray or plate.
Don’t let go of the piece of food until you see them grabbing it with their index finger and thumb. Spend just a few minutes “practicing” at the beginning of the meal, and then let them finish their meal normally so they don’t get too frustrated. Likely, it won’t be long before they have mastered this new skill!
For other foods, trying cutting them into cubes and if they’re squishy like a banana, rolling pieces in crushed dry cereal so they have something to grip.
When Will Your Toddler or Baby Eat with a Spoon?
Occupational therapists look for toddlers to be feeding themselves with a spoon without any assistance by the age of 2. However, most kids are capable of learning much younger than that if they’re given the opportunity. By one year of age, many toddlers proficiently and messily feed themselves with a spoon. If you struggle with the messiness of self feeding, read: Why You Should Let Your Kid Get Messy Eating.
Teaching Your Toddler (or Baby) to Self-Feed with a Spoon
As with finger feeding, the most important thing you can do initially to teach your baby or toddler how to use a spoon is to give them lots of opportunities to try.
Again, this will be messy. That’s okay! The mess is actually helpful for desensitizing them to various textures and help prevent more extreme picky eating in the future.
In the very early days of feeding your baby, this means giving them their own spoon to practice bringing to their mouth while you feed them. This allows your baby to associate the spoon with eating and they get to work on their fine motor skills a little too. Hopefully, your child will put it to their mouth intermittently as you’re feeding them, encourage this.
Once they start to put the spoon to their mouth, put your hand on top of theirs and dip it into the bowl you’ve been feeding them from together, put just enough on the spoon for them to taste. Do this a few times throughout the meal until they start to get the hang of it themselves.
Once they dip and bring the spoon to their mouth several times, it’s time to give them their own little bowl while you are feeding them. I know, they’ll throw the bowl, but you can either keep a hand on it, or use a…
…Suction bowls are awesome and will help keep them from tossing the whole bowl on to the floor. The trick is to only give them a little food in the bowl at a time. At this point, you are still feeding them most of the meal. If they are doing well scooping up food and at least getting some of it into their mouth, put more and more food into the bowl for them to feed themselves.
Once you reach this point, your child is probably around 8- 10 months old, assuming you started feeding them baby food at 6 months. If the mess is becoming too distracting, which it likely will, gently remind them that food goes in their mouth. Try to remember that the mess and playing with food is all part of the process. I know it is challenging, but it is short lived.
Another frustration that often pops up is throwing their bowl or food. Check out How to Stop Babies from Throwing Food for more tips.
You will continue in this way with 2 bowls until you are giving them more and more of the actual food and less bites from your spoon. When they are feeding themselves most of the meal, you can stop using your own bowl. In a short time, you will only be occasionally helping them with a large bite or when they turn the spoon the wrong way.
If you’ve been steadily teaching them how to use utensils, then they’ll likely be independent around 14-16 months old.
Although, it will continue be a supervised process for some time. Also, they will be fairly messy eaters for a while, don’t worry about the food that falls on their bib and chin. I hope I’m not the bearer of bad news, but they will eat like this until about 2 – 2 and 1/2. On the upside, their independence gives you a chance to actually eat your own food!
It is also helpful to keep in mind that thicker foods like yogurt and pudding will be easier to scoop and keep on the spoon. Thinner textures may be frustrating initially.
If you’re toddler isn’t showing much interest or are having a hard time manipulating the spoon, then help them by putting your hand on top of theirs and moving through all the steps of scooping and putting the bite into their mouth (as in the pic below).
See my top picks for spoons at the end of the post!
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When Will Your Toddler Feed Themself With a Fork?
Introduce fork feeding after they mastered using the spoon and have a nice pincer grasp for self feeding. Again, we look for kids to be capable of using a fork by age 2, although most will prefer to use their fingers, which is fine. Kids are capable of using a fork around 15-18 months.
Teaching Your Toddler to Self Feed with a Fork
Begin by placing a safe toddler fork on their plate or high chair tray with a food that’s really easy to pierce like cubes of cheese or a chicken nugget. Noodles and fruit are soft, but slippery, and may fall apart.
In the beginning, we want to keep their frustration level down, and give them a chance at being successful, which will motivate them to keep trying. If they’re having trouble with getting the food onto the fork, provide that hand over hand help again until they get the hang of it. Give them as little help as possible as you move along though.
Continue to offer them a fork and at a minimum, encourage them to use it a few times a week until they are in the preschool years and it becomes more inappropriate to eat everything with their fingers.
The Best Spoons for Toddlers Learning to Self Feed
All three of my boys used these spoons and sporks. I love them because of their wide curved handle, plus the shape allows them to dip only a little and still get a spoonful. That is important in the early days, when their coordination isn’t so hot. I also love the deep bowl of the actual spoon because even when some of the food falls off, it all isn’t lost, which can be really frustrating when their trying so hard.
The Best Forks for Toddlers Learning to Self-Feed
I love these little forks because they too have a soft, wide gripped handle which makes it easier for 1 year olds to use and feed themselves with. The best part is that they are metal and will actually pierce something. But the prongs are rounded just enough so that they aren’t dangerous for little ones.
How to Encourage a Toddler to Feed Themselves that Doesn’t Want to
If your child is already a toddler and you missed the steps I just described, it’s okay, you’re still going to proceed in much the same way. You will likely be moving through those early steps more quickly. Many parents don’t think to give their child a spoon so young or are really overwhelmed by the mess that it causes.
With a toddler, it is important to follow their lead and give them as much help as they need, although it is okay to let them struggle a little here, too. Consistency in how often you are presenting them with a spoon and patience go a long way!
I also have to point out here, that sometimes, toddlers know how to feed themselves, or at least are capable of doing so, but may refuse because they are extremely picky eaters. Read more in 5 Reasons Kids Refuse to Eat if you think this may be the reason behind your child’s refusal to self feed.
If your child is struggling to get the hang of feeding themselves or is refusing to try, make sure it is not the potential mess that is bothering them. If you suspect that they don’t like being messy, show them that you have a napkin nearby and give them their own. If they do get a little messy and it upsets them, be quick to clean it up. Check out how to help kids with sensory sensitivities.
Regardless of the reason they are having difficulty: consistency, patience, and practicing together are the keys to progress.
To keep the ideas coming, grab my FREE Must-Have Printable: 9 Tips to Improve Eating, we’ll send it right to your inbox!
More on Feeding Babies and Toddlers
Baby and Toddler Feeding Red Flags
How to Teach Your Baby or Toddler to Drink from a Straw
The Ultimate List of Baby/Toddler Meal Ideas
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Alisha Grogan is a licensed occupational therapist and founder of Your Kid’s Table. She has over 18 years experience with expertise in sensory processing and feeding development in babies, toddlers, and children. Alisha also has 3 boys of her own at home. Learn more about her here.
Hello, I’m in dire need of advise regarding my 2 year and 2 month old. He’ll eat snacks (like chips) on his own, but won’t eat food out of bowl unless someone feeds him. He will occasionally pick up the spook/fork and feed himself but only if someone places the food onto the spoon/fork first. But he will literally chase you with a fork to feed him or with the cup of yogurt and spoon to feed him. He knows how to feed himself, he just doesnt want to and when he tries and has trouble placing the food in the spoon, he gives up after one try and has a serious fit. Any advise on how to help him? At this point, he’s the only one that still needs help feeding at his daycare and I don’t want to keep enabling him. Please help.
Hi Cindy! Thanks for reaching out! Try having him play with a spoon/fork outside of mealtimes to get him used to the feel of these utensils. Play pretend feeding using toys and have him feed them. Demonstrate feeding with each other and show him how you feed yourself. Just take the pressure away and keep trying!
I know this post is a couple years old but I just came across it. I need some advice, my son just turned 11 months old. He loves to eat table foods, but only if I feed him. I have 3 boys and this is my youngest, he’s the only baby that I ever had that is a thumb sucker. He literally sucks his thumb all day. He also is teething, so he recently had 4 teeth break through, 2 at the top and 2 at the bottom. I expressed to his pediatrician at his 9 month check up that he doesn’t feed himself. I can out puffy snacks on the tray and he can pick them up but will not bring it to his mouth to put in it. Or if he does bring his hand to his mouth he will just grasp the treat in his hand and start sucking his thumb. She said we should model (which we do every single day) and to help guide his snack to his mouth. He gets upset and frustrated when I do try to help. Then he ends up just throwing his snacks, or pounding on his baby tray until all the snacks fall off. I also tried to give him the baby mum-mums. He will hold it with 2 hands and bring it to his mouth to eat. BUT, if I place the treat in only 1 hand he will try to squeeze it as hard as he can to break it. Then he just ends up throwing it. Sometimes I think because he is a thumb sucker this is what is not helping with him feeding himself.. I don’t know what to do, but he just has no interest in feeding himself. If I feed him, he loves to eat everything and anything though! Any help or tips appreciated 🙂
Hi Lacey! Thanks for reaching out! He’s so young, so it’s hard to tell at this point if anything you’ve described is sensory related. It could simply be that he gets frustrated when you try to help him with feeding- which is common and normal! It’s great that he eats everything, though! So just keep practicing self-feeding, allowing him to touch/feel/play with his food/textures, demonstrating, modeling, having him watch you and his siblings eat, play feeding dolls, etc. No pressure, allowing him to do his own thing. Try pre-loading baby utensils and setting it on his tray for him to grab and bring to his mouth. Hope that helps!
What is your opinion on GRABEASE baby utensils? Are they helpful or harmful to baby’s development?
Hi. My one year old refuses to eat any table food. He eats purees that we feed him, but he won’t eat anything on his own. He used to put some foods in his mouth, but doesn’t do that now. When we started giving him table food initially he would put it in his mouth and immediately gag and throw up (age 6-8 months), so we thought we needed to wait until he had matured a bit more in terms of his GI system. Now we are really concerned. His gag reflex has lessened, although he does sometimes throw up. Usually if we give him some water when he feels that sensation coming on he can stop it. He is developmentally off the charts in every other way – he is exceptionally smart and way ahead in terms of all the other usual milestones -our pediatrician said she has not seen a child like him in many, many years. My brother told me that his daughter gagged a lot when they fed her table food and it was terrible and they just muscled past it. Can you give me some advice in terms of how we can get him to start trying some table foods? We have bought puffs, baby cookies, given him cheese, all to no avail. The only thing he really has ever had a keen interest in trying to eat is his brothers’ raisins, but we can’t give him those right off! Any advice you can provide would be excellent!
We understand how difficult this can be! But you are definitely on the right track with buying the puffs and other meltable items. These are the ones I’d start off with as they melt in your mouth and the easiest to chew. You can also make sure that he is getting some play with foods (outside of mealtimes) to just touch and explore as this can be really helpful along the way! We have a free workshop that can help with getting him past the gagging! You can save your seat HERE
I am mom of 7 and half months old son. I have started solids before 6 months and my son eats nicely in the morning, but when I give him anything during evening or night time he never opens his mouth and will become fussy. I tries finger foods as well and he threw everything down. I don’t know how to make him eat. Can you help me with that.
Thanks for reaching out! Sounds like your doing some great things, if he is eating in the morning. I’d try to take a look at your schedule to make sure he is having enough time in between to feel hungry as well as slowly easing into another feeding (making sure you are not pressuring him). Here is an article all about scheduling of foods.
Hey, my son is 1 year old, he likes and eats whatever food we eat but only when I feed him, and whenever I give him food to feed himself he won’t touch food at all, he never ever touches food. I would really appreciate if you would give any advice or tips!
Hi Tahreem! Thanks for reaching out! Sorry to hear your son is having a hard time with self feeding. It’s great that he eats everything, though! He’s still very young, so just keep practicing self-feeding, allowing him to touch/feel/play with his food/textures, demonstrating, modeling, having him watch you eat, play feeding dolls, etc. No pressure, allowing him to do his own thing. Try pre-loading baby utensils and setting it on his tray for him to grab and bring to his mouth. Also, try the method stated in the post about spreading food or yogurt on the tray and having him bring it to his mouth with a messy hand. I know that sounds odd but it will help teach him the idea. Hope that helps!
I need help. My 2 year 4 month old daughter will not eat from the spoon unless I feed it to her. She hates sitting in her chair at the table to eat and just throws her spoon on the ground. When I try spoon feeding her with her hand in mine she gets mad and won’t eat it. Sometimes she’ll let me guide her hand but for the most part she just gets mad and cries. She’ll eat crackers and cheesepuffs by her fingers and uses a sippy cup. She hates getting her fingers dirty n wont finger feed with liquidy foods.
Have you tried playing with a spoon outside of mealtimes to get her used to the feel and how to complete the scooping part? I know how frustrating throwing of utensils can be and sounds like your doing a great job at trying to teach her! I’d just take the pressure away, you can also practice with cups, scoops, etc!
No, I hadn’t tried that. I started right after you suggested it. She has baby dolls and I have been taking different kinds of spoons and pretending to scoop food out of a bowl and feed it to her dollies. Then I take the dollies hand and have them scoop the food out and into their mouths. It hasn’t worked yet but she watches me like a hawk when I do this. She has been at least taking the play spoon and putting it into her mouth when she wants to.
That’s great she is starting to put the spoon into her mouth!! I’d keep working at it, as it will take some time! During meals, have the spoon pre-loaded and see if she picks it up like she does during play! Keep us posted!
Very informative post!! As an OT, you provided the description of motor skills needed by the child to feed himself/herself.
Thanks, Haben! Glad you enjoyed it!!
Hello! My baby is 9 months. We started purees at 6 months, the usual baby rice cereal, pear, apple sauce, pumpkin etc. she was never very interested. I would possibly get 2 baby spoons in at a sitting. At 7 months my child health nurse suggested I start trying 3 meals a day instead of 1, and offering mixed purees (with lumps) as well as finger foods such as cucumber sticks, cut strawberry or toast soldiers so my baby can easily feed herself. She is now almost 9 months….when we sit in the high chair she immediately turns her head, seems frustrated. Sometimes she may let me give her 2-3 baby spoons at the most..she is likely to pick up the finger foods (if the are large enough) and self feed but she doesn’t really eat anything. She is frustrated quickly….in an entire day she may only have 6 baby spoons in total even though she has been presented with a wide variety of options. I’ve have tried to make it really fun, always eating with her, playing her fun music, games, making mess on her tray with her… but I cant really get her that interested in the food….she is exclusively breast fed and normal weight….should I be worried?? All other babies I know eat far more than she does, even ones younger and I’m starting to stress a little even if I hide it from her….I truly feel she doesn’t see the point in food or doesn’t like it. Any tips would be appreciated.
Some babies definitely eat far less. At a minimum, I would keep offering. Try adding stronger flavors or making food blander. Does she respond to one over the other? One of my kids ate a spicy lamb stew that my mom made for dinner and we pureed it in the blender for him, he refused all regular baby foods.
Focus on the table foods and definitely check out how to transition to table foods for more tips!
Hope you are doing good? My love is 22 months old. Still he is taking his food by own. I am spoon feeding. But he if I gv him fruits he lleat by himself. Our stable food is rice. But he always refuse to eat that. I am forcing him to eat every time and still he is not chewing the food but he chewing well what he takes own.. Pl help me out..TIA
It sounds like he’s having a hard time learning to eat and so he’s avoiding it. He can learn to eat rice, but that is more difficult for some babies. I’d highly recommend reading this post on transitioning to table foods and even though he’s a little bit older this is where I’d start:)
Hello, hoping you can offer some advice. My son just turned 3 years old. He is diagnosed with ASD Level 1, and he also has a tentative ADHD diagnosis. He has been receiving OT for a year now. He is verbal and understands commands. He eats a limited number of foods, but that’s not even my main concern at this point. He will finger feed himself dry foods only, he can drink out of open cups, and straws. He can eat foods that are easy to stab with a fork. He can sometimes eat foods with a spoon without hand over hand. He does have some sensory issues on his face, so we have tons of napkins for every meal. Our issues are more behavioral. Getting him to sit and feed himself an entire meal is close to impossible. If he is trying to feed himself and gets food on his face or hands, or it slides off the silverware, then he’ll tantrum and refuse to feed himself after that. He can undo his seat belt and climb out of his highchair. Letting him sit at the table with us leads to him trying to stand on his chair or run away. We do use timers for most things, but they’ve never worked for meal times. He doesn’t seem to care if he doesn’t eat a thing. So leaving him go, and not feeding him while he runs around the house can mean possible dehydration. So I end up chasing him around trying to get him to eat. I’ve tried all different kinds of utensils, tried getting him a children’s table with chairs and moving it to all rooms of the house, I can’t give him toys or his iPad because then he’ll sit but won’t feed himself. He just started with a new OT this past week, and they don’t seem like they’re going to work on feeding with him. He is on wait lists for 3 different places for ABA, and he’s in a self contained ABA preschool class part time at our local public school for a couple more months. Do you have any suggestions of things I could try to help him? Thank you!
I totally get where you are and this can be so overwhelming! As I listen to your story, I think he could really benefit from a sensory diet. I’m assuming you are probably familiar with that and whether you are or not, I would highly suggest taking my free workshop that teaches you how to set one up. He may benefit from using tools like a weighted lap pad, a wiggle seat, or proprioceptive activities beforehand or during the meal. I have a guide for weighted lap pads here and I have a new post coming out next week about the wiggle seats. Lastly, I have this post on how to keep your child seated for meals.
My son is 2 years 4 months old, recently came across to your blog so just want to know. My son eat figure food by himself, but he don’t want to eat food from spoon. If I keep food in front of him he asked me to feed him. I tried to feed him by holding his hand along with spoon, but he cries a lot and don’t want to eat in that manner. Beside this he loves to play with spoon and fork, but don’t want to eat by using them. Also, he recently started with his daycare so bit concern as he don’t eat properly over there. Need your guidance and thanks in advance.
Hi Vidhi! Thanks for reaching out! Try having him play with a spoon/fork outside of mealtimes to get him used to the feel of these utensils. Play pretend feeding using toys and have him feed them. Demonstrate feeding with each other and show him how you feed yourself. Just take the pressure away and keep trying!
writing you this message with a lot of hope!
We, as parents are frustrated now. We made mistake of spoon feeding our 2 year 2 months old boy.
we are frustrated because —
1-He is spoon-fed. Still he does not eat easily- needs some distraction like colors, toys, screen to eat food.
2-Still eats very slow. Each meal is minimum of an hours when he does not eat a large meal. Its hard for full time working parents to spare an hour of feeding+ 15 mins of cleaning for every meal. So every evening is about cooking and then feeding him mainly after whole day of work. And weekends same cycle for all three meals so all weekend is only at his service.
3-If he is given the food to eat on his own- sometimes he eats but very little like 1-2 cucumber sick and keeps playing or will throw the food.
4-He does not eat at all if he does not like the food even if he is very hungry.
5-He does not eat/does not eat easily when out like restaurants, if we are at friends place etc.
6- He does not show any self interest in food.
6-We have tried ways like taking him out of the high chair as soon as he starts playing up with us and doesnt eat to make him realise that he will be removed if he wouldnt eat properly. It works sometimes if he is hungry for a lil time.
Moreover, every time we become strict to make him learn that meal time is to eat and not play by following above or any other method for few days, soon he falls sick (as he falls sick very often) and then all efforts go in vein as then our focus is to ensure that he gets something in his body to avoid dehydration and support him in sickness and we do/give him whatever he wants like colors, rhymes and taking all his drama.
I really really want him to develop interest in food and start eating by himself!
Please help and suggest a way to be followed.
We will be grateful!
I know how frustrating that can be! I have a free picky eating workshop that I think would be really helpful for you. You can sign up here. I think these are the first steps you need to take.
Hi alisha! My 3 year old does not eat unless you mash the food. Everything should be literally mashed. He just swallows and doesnt chew. But he eats fish crackers and saltine crackers and bread but only if you cut them into biye sized pieces. He drinks from a straw but he still finds a hard time cup feeding. He doesnt hold a spoon in his hand too. Although sometimes i try and he cooperates a bit. He needs a tv to eat or any distractions. Please help me on what to do so I could save him the trouble of going to a therapist. He hates medical people. Thank you in advance!
Hi Flor! Thanks for reaching out! We know how stressful eating issues can be. We definitely recommend consulting with your pediatrician if possible, since they can refer you to a feeding therapist for some hands-on help. Since he’s stuck mainly on purées, he may need help with chewing/swallowing. In the meantime, practice with some sensory and oral motor exercises by using sensory bins, food play, and allowing him to touch/feel/play with his food. Try using a toothbrush to brush the insides of his mouth before mealtimes. Other oral motor exercises include making silly faces, blowing bubbles, sipping from straws, and licking lollipops/popsicles. These exercises will help strengthen his oral muscles, which are what he uses to chew/swallow his food. You may also try demonstrating eating/chewing by having him watch you make the over-exaggerated motions, or even use toys to demonstrate feeding and having him practice feeding the toy or using open mouth cups. We also have a free workshop that can help with eating table foods- save your seat here!
My little one is about 16 months. He self feeds some of his favorite food like crackers, cheese, gold fish, fruits etc. but not the main course. Our staple food is rice so he will eat rice if I feed him but plays with it or start throwing them everywhere if I let him eat it and hence does not eat much if I don’t feed him. Its a dilemma for me because it is him eating some food versus not eating at all. He goes to day car and the same story continues, he does well with his snacks and fruits but not with the main course. How do I encourage him to eat by himself and how do I deal with the quantity that he eats is enough for him or not?
Hi Chandini, I know it’s so frustrating! This age is all about learning to use a spoon. He probably just still needs some help, but if you become more concerned, I would definitely check with your doctor. I’d use the hand over hand help that I described in the post and keep practicing. I have this post on Toddler Portion Sizes that I think will answer your other question.
Hi Alisha! First off thank you so much for all the information. Your advice has really helped me and I’m sure it has helped tons of other moms. My baby is turning 10 months in a couple of days, and we recently just started finger foods (I’ve only been giving him Gerber Puffs so far). He chews and swallows them fine, however he doesn’t put the puff in the mouth himself. He only eats them when I put them in his mouth. I have tried hand over hand with him, but when I do that he gets frustrated and throws the puff on the floor. He hasn’t quite mastered his pincer grasp yet, but he is starting to get better at it. What can I do to help him feed himself the puffs? Should I wait till he feeds himself before I start introducing new finger foods? I am a bit frustrated because I’ve been trying to get him to self feed for about a week and haven’t had any success. Any information is so greatly appreciated! Thank you!!
Hi Ruse, it’s great that he’s eating those well, I wouldn’t stop the table foods because that could cause other delays if you wait to long. So for now I’d help him. But, I’d try the method I wrote about in the post about spreading baby food or yogurt on the tray and having him bring it to his mouth with a messy hand. I know that sounds odd but it will help teach him the idea. I’d also try putting something on a fork with rounded prongs of course and seeing if he’ll bring that too his mouth, maybe with just a little help. If those work but he still won’t pick up then try just playing with the puffs outside of a meal. picking them up and putting them into a container! Lastly, if he doesn’t seem to improve I’d mention it to the doctor or get an eval just to check in on his fine motor skills:)
My son will be 1 next week and we have been on a very wild food journey.. he has been tube fed since 3 months old due to an array of medical problems… now we are really working towards eating solids and cup drinking, however, we are having some troubles. He will pick food up with his pincer grasp (yay!), and he will put the food to his mouth, but he wont let it go inside of his mouth. He just removes it from his mouth and drops it on the floor.. Im not quite sure how to teach him to let go of the food inside his mouth. He also is a very slow eater and can only handle one small bite at a time (ie: one puff, 2 cheerios), then it takes quite some time to clear his mouth to prepare for the next bite. At this rate I feel like he will never be able to eat portion sizes (or anything near the portion sizes) that other toddlers eat. He also gets intimidated by utensils at times so I feed him often with my own hands. And recently he had started acting aversive to drinking formula both from a bottle and a sippy, but he will drink water happily. I wonder if the formula hurts his belly. I just am feeling pretty stuck and want him to thrive and be happy. Any tips you can give me are greatly appreciated!
Hi Nicole, it sounds like you’re doing a great job. It can be really challenging for kids that have been tube fed to learn to eat, this is very normal. Of course, it can be done! Are you working with a feeding therapist, if not I’d highly suggest that. There’s a lot of strategies for when to schedule tube feedings and oral feedings that can make a huge difference. He also may have some oral aversions to work through. I hope that helps a little!
My son is 3 and a half years old and he still does not eat himself. He only drinks water by himself. He didnt even bite chocolate, chips etc. he also didnt chew food when he is feeded. only a couple of times he has shown interest in picking up some oily fried foods. I am worried. Please help me so that he can chew food and take it himself.
I know he’s a bit older, but I’d start with this post on transitioning to table foods and this one on oral motor skills. You’ll also find a free workshop here that I think will be really helpful, too! If you have any questions let me know!