Thursday, October 23, 2008

Three Things to Make Learning to Self-feed Fun

Self-feeding is a major milestone for your toddler! Since preemies often have so many other, more significant, feeding issues, helping your child learn to self-feed can take a back-burner. I truly believe it's important though. Self-feeding encourages fine motor skills and coordination and also often leads to children trying new foods along with their new-found independence. Here are three little ways to make the learning process a little more fun:

Cocktail forks- These tiny forks are perfect for little bite-size chunks of meat and, since little fingers end up closer to the food, it's easier to be precise and therefore successful.

Toothpicks- Frilly toothpicks make kids happy. It's that simple. And they're great for cheese cubes, diced tomato, or even marshmallows. And, really, who wouldn't be impressed to see a toddler who knows how to politely eat from a cheese tray?

Crazy straws- Can't say it enough... as a society, we have got to start weaning kids off sippy cups before, say, kindergarten. It's kind of ridiculous. Straws encourage kids to move on to an open cup and, believe it or not, the crazy variety are actually good for them. Because children have to "pull" the liquid so far, these straws help build oral strength more than their straight counterparts.

Bon appetit!


Ryann said...

These are great ideas! We've never had a problem getting Addy to self-feed (she has always held her own spoon and such - won't let me come at her with one!). Now if you have the magic cure to get her to swallow the food. That would be a miracle!

Great point about the long straws... we are working on straw drinking now, but since she never even sucked a bottle, she's really lost with the straw. We'll keep trying!

JessieLeigh said...

Ryann- I imagine you've tried this, but sometimes it helps to "get them started" on the straw where you suck the liquid almost to the top. That way it takes very little effort on her part and she gets some gratification! Loved reading about Addy's independence with the spoon- that's awesome!

Ryann said...

Hmmm, well I've done the thing where you put your finger over the straw to "trap" some of the liquid then put the other end in her mouth and released slowly. I'll have to figure out just how to try getting the liquid most of the way up and then letting her try. We'll try with water first as to not make a sticky mess!

JessieLeigh said...

Weird as it might sound, that process is most easily done with pudding or applesauce to start. It won't "drain back" into the straw so quickly. Of course, it takes some oral strength on your part to get it going! : )