It’s frustrating as parents to put in effort to prepare little one’s meal only to see it on the floor and all over their body. Here are some pretty useful tips on how to get them to self-feed, while still keeping your sanity!
Weaning may have been a walk in the park for you, but the terrible toddler mealtimes are on a whole new level! From flat out refusing to eat, to merrily throwing the food you’ve lovingly prepared all over your freshly mopped floor, the messy reality of toddler mealtimes will have you yearning for the days when you spent the best part of an hour feeding your six month old pureed veggies!
1. Start small
First snacks are a good way to get your tot used to aiming his food at his mouth and not up his nose: fruit or vegetables cut into handy sticks, bread sticks and raisins are great snacks to help give your child some sort of ownership over feeding himself.
Later you can move onto proper meal time foods like toast, small sandwiches and chopped up chunks of cheese, meat and vegetables he can try picking up with a spoon.
2. Make it fun!
When they’re just starting to self-feed it’s important to make sure food time = fun time. Try playing ‘feed me’. Chop up some finger foods and encourage your toddler to put the food in your mouth. Chew each bite enthusiastically, then feed your little one in the same way. Toddlers love learning by example.
3. Let them play with their food
Yes, you heard right we did just tell you to let your toddler play with their food. But touching and playing with the food on their plate encourages your little one to be creative.
The Spaghetti pick-up game is a firm favourite. Using cooked spaghetti encourage your toddler to make a shape before he puts it in his mouth. You can help by joining in and showing him how he can make various shapes or a smiley face.
4. Set an example
The best way to encourage your toddler to self-feed is to show him exactly how it’s done. Eat your food with cutlery first and let your toddler try with his/her spoon/fork whilst you eat yours, you can then help him afterwards, but you'll have given him/her the opportunity and the motivation to try.
5. It’s okay to be messy
If your little one is a messy eater, try to close an eye to the chunks of food decorating the floor/the walls/the ceiling – we’re afraid mess is part and parcel of the toddler years! And resist telling him off, unless of course he’s deliberately throwing food on the floor and trying to avoid eating. In which case, calmly clear it away and give him some of the food again. It may be that’s he’s not yet ready to feed himself. Be patient! It will all come together eventually.
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