From the start, your little one will be keen to fully immerse themselves in their weaning journey - in more ways than one! You have likely seen different approaches to weaning but whichever one or combination you go for, all involve your mini person working towards becoming an independent and confident little eater! To help them along the way, here are my top tips for independent eating;
Are they sitting comfortably? - Ensure they are sitting up straight. New eaters often seem very tiny in a high chair! You can support them by using small cushions / rolled up muslins/towels to pad out the space behind them and to the side, allowing them to sit up all by themselves.
Keep their feet on the ground - Have you ever tried eating with your feet off the floor?! You end up wobbling all over the place as you try to co-ordinate your hands from plate to mouth! If you’re able, choose a chair that supports their feet at a right angle. Alternatively put something under their feet to rest on, such as a box or step.
Allow them to explore - Things will get messy, but children need to touch, smell and discover new things before they are confortable putting them into their mouths. They need some time for this so relieve pressure on yourself by allowing extra time at meal times to keep things fun (and to clear up after!)
Be their role model - Like so many other things, children learn by watching and imitating those around them. Young children must be supervised whilst eating, but sitting and eating alongside them is brilliant for showing how to tackle different foods and modelling how to use cutlery. They will love to watch you and try to copy other children and older siblings too.
Give them the tools they need to succeed - Set your little one up to win! Check the bib they have doesn’t restrict their movement of hand to mouth. Present the food on a bowl that isn’t too deep and a plate that allows them to scoop food easily. Cutlery should be designed for little hands – Nana’s Manners tableware is designed across 3 Stages, offering the perfect equipment to support your child’s fine motor skill development, confidence and quest for independence at baby, toddler and young child.
Everyone at their own pace - Each child is on their own journey. Don’t compare your child to others or worry if your child seems less willing at first. For many reasons you may find some mealtimes easier than others; depending on the food on offer, time of day, the colour of the plate, as well as a million other factors! They will always be happier to get on with feeding themselves if they are very keen on what’s on their plate! They may be keen to eat their own breakfast and lunch, but need a little help at dinner when they are tired after a busy day. Take on board any feedback your child gives you and enjoy the journey!
Meet the expert: Kathryn Baldrey-Chourio – Nana’s Manners.