Stimulation Activities: Teach your baby how to eat
Good nutrition is an important factor responsible for your child's brain development. But there can be more to meal times than just the nutritional benefits. Meal times are the perfect opportunity for you to shape-up your child’s developing brain through positive, supportive interactions and face-to-face communication while also promoting his/her independence through self-feeding.1,2
Infants start learning self-feeding skills as they develop fine motor skills and gain better control of the mouth and face muscles. It is between 6 months and one year of age, that infants are generally ready for self-feeding.1 So here are a few tips on how to teach your baby to eat solids.
- Teaching your baby to eat finger foods: Even before they develop teeth, babies often enjoy soft finger foods and are able to mash foods into smaller pieces using their gums. At this time, developing important feeding skills by introducing finger foods helps your baby get used to different food textures, improves coordination and encourages self-feeding.3
- Teaching your baby to eat with a spoon: As you begin encouraging finger feeding in your toddlers, gradually introduce them to the spoon and fork.1 Give them food pieces that are bite sized and can be easily picked up and eaten.2
- Teach your kids how to sip with a cup: At six months, it is okay for your toddler to begin using a cup for drinking. During the initial phase, try using sippy cups. Drinking from an open cup uses different muscles of your child’s face. You may introduce your child to regular, open cups between six and nine months of age.1
Ensure that you do not hurry with the mealtimes as children take time to practice these new feeding skills.1
- Georgia Division of Family and Health Services. Mealtimes Matter for Healthy Brain Development. Available from: http://www.bbbgeorgia.org/physicalMealtimes.php Accessed on: June 16, 2017.
- Figueroa A. Connecticut’s Guidelines for the Development of Infant and Toddler Early Learning. Available from: http://www.ct.gov/dss/lib/dss/dss_early_learning_guidelines.pdf Accessed on: June 12, 2017.
- British Columbia. Finger foods for babies 6-12 months. Available from: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthy-eating/finger-foods-baby-6-12-month Accessed on: June 16, 2017.