Teaching a Child to Eat on His/Her Own
One question that we might always ask as new parents is when will our toddlers learn how to eat on his/her own. We just can’t simply wait to see them take the spoon and fork and start eating properly without needing much assistance. Not because we are tired of caring for them but because we want to teach them how to be independent “eaters”.
The initial sign that your toddler is ready to start practicing eating is when he/she grabs the spoon from your hand and try to do his/her best to put it directly in his/her mouth. Even if the attempts were messy and somehow irritates you because it entails a lot of cleaning, it is still a good sign because it means that your toddler is now willing and ready to start learning the skill of eating on his/her own.
No matter how messy they start with it, do not limit them. Provide them the opportunity to do it so as to develop the skill. Let them have a hard time at first since that will make them learn more the process.
What are the things that you have to prepare in doing this teaching lesson to your toddler?
- Prepare a rug below your eating area or under the highchair or table.
- Allow your child to eat while his/her feet are touching the floor for it makes them feel more confident and gives them stability.
- Prepare the utensils appropriate for the age of your toddler (spoon, fork, etc.)
- Let your toddler watch the way you eat for they also learn through imitation.
- Put your toddler in a highchair near the dining area so that you could still eat together as a family (even if he/she cannot actually eat the food that you’re eating).
What are the things that you have to do now?
- Begin your teaching lessons early as soon as your toddler shows interest in grasping and hand movement similar to eating already.
- Be patient in teaching for they cannot master the craft in a snap of a finger. It entails a lot of patience.
- Let your child practice eating finger foods and join him/her while eating. This will also serve as his/her “modeling” phase from you.
- Stay with your child throughout the course of the eating time so as to avoid possible conflicts that might happen.
- Do not make use of food as a reward or a punishment to your children because there is a high probability that he/she will develop a negative effect towards food growing up.
- Be creative in preparing food. Make it as colorful as possible without compromising the nutrients.
- Allow your child to choose his/her own food. This will develop in him/her the ability to decide on what ever food he wants for as long as it is allowed and healthy for him/her.
Teaching your toddler to eat on his/her own will not be easy as it seems, but with enough guidance from you, he/she will definitely make it! Good luck!