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Five Facts about Spoon Feeding

By Rachel Tyrone MS, CFY-SLP Feeding Specialistoto---blog-6.jpg

In first few months of life, babies learn all kinds of new and exciting skills. One of the most important skills is learning how to eat from a spoon. This is the beginning stages of moving away from the bottle and becoming an independent feeder. Here are 5 about spoon feeding that parents can use to aid in the transition from bottle feeder to independent feeder.

  • Good head, neck, and trunk alignment are crucial to eating. Always feed babies sitting fully upright in a high chair. You can prevent leaning over by using rolled up wash clothes on either side to help the child not tilt or lean over. This takes the stress off of the baby in trying to keep their body straight and eat at the same time!
  • Beginning feeders learn best with flatter spoon. The deeper the spoon, the harder for the baby to pull the food off the spoon with their lips. Cleaning the spoon comes with continued practice! Do not scrape the spoon on your child's gum line. If your child is exposed to this frequent scraping, then he/she may become aversive later on.
  • Start off spoon practice with liquids (formula, etc) that are already familiar to your child. This will help the baby to not become too overwhelmed with a new flavor and new utensil. Move towards baby food as he/she becomes ready.
  • Meal time will be messy for the next few months of life. That is a wonderful thing! Babies learn by exploring their environment. If they are allowed to play with the baby food that is placed on their tray, then they can explore the texture. This will lead to the baby learning how to finger feed which will later lead to independent feeding! Wait until after meal time to clean/wipe your baby's face and use a gently tapping to clean up. Frequent rubbing of the face can lead to some aversive behaviors.
  • Last but not least do not force feed your baby. Force feeding can lead to aversions in the future. If you are having a hard time getting you baby to take baby foods from a spoon, try the following suggestions;
    • Dip your finger in the baby food and place it to the baby's lips. This will give them the flavor without overwhelming them with the spoon.
    • Gently tap the baby's lips and you show them (open your mouth wide and say ahhhh) to have them see what you are wanting them do
    • Don't let your frustrations show. If that feeding is not going well, let someone else try (try siblings if old enough!) or take a break and try again later.

My goal as a feeding therapist is to help all children develop a lifelong positive relationship with food! Whether that be by eating a full meal with a variety of textures or by having a few pleasure feeds a day. If your child is having a hard time with feeding, contact your pediatrician to discuss your concerns. A speech-language pathologist can assist you in helping your child be as successful of a feeder as possible!