Learning to love food

We all know it's important to feed our little ones good food to ensure they grow up strong and healthy, but not many of us know that a variety of foods can also help with physical and sensory development.

Finger foods can help little ones develop the skills they need to feed themselves. Exposing a baby to finger foods in a variety of shapes at this crucial early stage helps to develop their hand and eye coordination, chewing skills, mouth muscles and essential gripping skills.
 

When is my baby ready for finger foods/self-feeding?

The age varies between babies but some key indicators that your baby is ready to start are that they can:

  • Lift and support their head without help
  • Sit supported
  • Make hand and arm movements which are needed for self-feeding
  • Can reach out for foods


By six months, the majority of babies have these skills but this is only a guide. All babies develop at different rates and you should go at your own pace.

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t have teeth they can still enjoy finger foods before as they can 'gum' foods into smaller pieces.

 

What are the benefits of your baby self-feeding?

Physical

  • Helps your child to learn how to bite and chew
  • Eating finger foods can help to develop hand-eye coordination skills.
  • Helps your child get used to different food textures

Emotional

  • Encourages self-feeding
  • Allows your child to be an independent eater and choose new foods to try
  • Control, as your child can influence the pace of eating

Social

  • An opportunity to build language, as you can introduce new words as new foods are introduced
  • Increasing your child's independence, which can allow the family to enjoy meal times together and be more relaxed
  • An early exposure to a range of textures and flavours can help children become more familiar with and open to a wide range of foods as they grow

 

If you are looking for inspiration and some finger food ideas why not download our helpful sheet here...
  

 

Last updated: 12-Jul-2013 at 12:31 PM