Eating is one of human basic needs. Since in pregnancy period, the embrio needs foods supply through mother. It is continued by giving mother’s milk after the baby was born. After that the baby will be introduced several kinds of food from foods that have soft texture until foods that have solid texture.
When your child was still a baby, spoon feeding is an usual activity. But there will be time when your child must eat by herself without your help anymore or other people’s help in your house.
Learning to eat by herself is one important step for baby history in her first year period. Besides rolling, sitting, walking, and speaking, learning to eat alone has a role in developing her independency and her confidence. You can take the break time at eating time by not spoon feed her anymore.
Generally when baby has been 7-9 months, she has developed her soft motorik capability and she is ready to learn eating by herself. She has been capable to use her hands and fingers and she also has good coordination between her eyes, hands, and her brain.
In this age, child can reach things that you give to her hands. She will take it by her thumb and her point finger. She also has capability to move that thing from one hand to another hand. If your child has comprehended this skill, it means that your child is ready to learn eating by herself.
Another sign is your child likes to put anything to her mouth and she likes to point any foods that you eat. Because her teeth growing process, she likes to chew or bite something in her mouth. This time is the right time because your child may consume solid foods.
Every child has different process in their growing process. Mostly, children can’t use spoon in a right way until they are 1 year old. Because of that, introducing child with finger food is the best way to teach her eat by herself.
Finger food is a kind of foods that has small size and can be eaten without using knife, fork, or spoon. In other words, the food will be easy to be taken and held by your child.
Teach her of eating healthy food since she was kid by giving her option of foods that contain important nutrition for her developing and growing process. Introduce her new taste and texture through vegetables, fruits, and foods that contain carbohydrate and protein.
Vegetables that are rich with vitamin and mineral are needed by your child so that she can grow healthy and strong. You can give her any vegetables that are boiled and cut in small size. They can be broccoli, potato, asparagus, or carrot that are boiled.
Same with vegetables, fruits also contain fiber and important element that are needed by your child growing process. Fruits are also the right food to be held by her. The soft fruits that you can give to your child are banana, honey dew, kiwi, and avocado that cut in small pieces.
Your baby needs energy for growing and doing activities. The finger foods that you can give to her are slice of bread, boiled pasta, rice (rice red is suggested) and soft cereal.
Protein and fat
Foods that contain protein and fat are also important and they should be given to your child for her growing process, building and recovering her body system. Finger foods that you can give to her are slice of omelet, boiled egg, boiled chicken that cut in small slices or slice of soft cheese.
Besides, you can also give her milk biscuit that is rich with nutrition. Remember to always watch your child because your child can be choked while she is eating. The foods that you must avoid to give when your child learns to eat alone are popcorn, peanuts, raisin, grapes, carrot, and candies.
Because of that, teaching your child to eat alone since she was kid is important. Of course, this process is not an easy process. Besides patience, you need several tips so that your child is interested to eat alone.
These are several tips that you should know in teaching her to eat alone:
- Since she is 7 months, she can sit alone though every child has different progress. You can sit her on the high chair or eating chair that is special designed for baby and you can put the finger foods on her table.
- Serve foods with spoon, plate,fork that are made from plastic and have attractive color.
- Give fruit juice or water in a plastic glass that has handle so it is easy to be held. You should give her juice that is made totally 100% from fruits not juice that contains much water and sugar.
- If you want to introduce her yoghurt, it is better to give her the real yoghurt. You can put slices of fruit to be mixed with the yoghurt to add the nutrition. Avoid giving yoghurt that has fruit taste like banana or strawberry because that taste of fruit is taken from the additive element like food coloring, fruit essence, and other chemical substance.
- You should give her apron on her chest so the food that she eats will not make her cloth dirty.
- You should place plastic under her eating chair so it will make you easier to clean up the floor or carpet after her eating activity.
- Make your child usual to sit when she eats. Don’t let her run around or play while she eats.
- There will be time when you feel dissapointed and mad because she only eats a half portion. It can happen since the rest of her foods fall down or she throws up the foods. It is all right because that is also a part of her learning process. Always accompany your child. But there will be time when you can warn your child if she plays or throws up her foods.
- In order to improve her motivation so she can eat alone, it will be better if child sits on the same table with other family member. The menu can be different but child can learn to eat alone from seeing and imitating the way of elder people eat. Let your child to eat alone though she will dirt the table. Child usually enjoys her eating learning process with her own way. Give her support so that she always trains her new skill.
- Create that eating activity into something fun for your child. For example, you can explain the color of the foods that she eats, the nutrition of the food, or you can give her a funny plate that has animal picture. When the food is still full, your child can’t see the picture on the bottom of the plate. When she almost finishes her food, she can see the picture. Always give her motivation, until she can see the whole picture on her plate.
- You should not teach her to eat and play or watch TV at the same time because it will make your child not focus on her foods.
- The interesting foods will make your child happy to eat them. Serve various foods with attractive garnish every day so she will enjoy to eat her meal.
- You should give her foods that have attractive color or you can cut them into unique shape. It can improve her appetite.
- Give her small portion of foods but do this for several times. The big portion will confuse your child. If she has finished her meal, you can add the food step by step. The big portion also can cause your child choked because she wants to eat all the foods at the same time.
- As a parent, be a good model for your child. You should eat at the dining table and always finish your meal and also eat healthy foods.
- In order to make your child finish her meal, you should not give her a lot of snack between her meal time.
- Give your child milk after her meal time. If you give her milk before her meal time, she will feel full and she doesn’t want to eat anymore.
- Besides finger food, you can give her boiled potato that is mashed or porridge in her bowl. Don’t forget to accompany her and teach her how to hold a spoon. If it is necessary, hold the spoon together with her. After that, let the child to coordinate her hands, eyes, and brain to eat her meal.
- Usually, child is more interested with foods that are on other’s plate. For example is the foods that are on your plate. Let your child take the food from your plate. But make sure that the food is suitable for her and it isn’t spicy.
- Eating skill is something that must be comprehended by your child. It needs time and patience. Because of that, you should not force her to finish her meal fast. If she eats fast, she will be easy to be choked.
- For older child, you can give her more variant finger foods for examples are croquttes, fruit satay, mini pancake, fish or chicken that are fried with bread flour.
- Don’t forget to give her applause, embrace, or give her compliment if she can finish her meal by herself.
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Hopefully those tips can help you to teach your child =)