Healthy Eating for 6 to 24 month old Children (2) Moving On (6 – 12 months)

How to help your baby learn to feed himself

  • Your baby is ready to learn to feed himself when he reaches out for food.
  • Stay with him during mealtime. Watch him and respond to him appropriately.

Useful tips

Clean your baby's hands and face before and after meals. Avoid wiping his hands too often during meals, as this may disturb his interest in eating.

Finger feeding

When your baby reaches out for the food, you can prepare food that is easy for your baby to hold and eat. Cut sweet potatoes, vegetable stalks, carrots and broccoli in 7 to 10 cm long strips and cooked them soft. When giving your baby vegetable stalks, peel off the hard skin first, or offer him a new one once the soft part of the stalk is eaten. You can also give him baby biscuits.

When your baby picks up small objects with his fingers, cut the food into thin slices or lumps for your baby to pick up such as thin slices of banana, soft fruits, cheese cubes, small pieces of bread, soft cooked macaroni or pasta.

Using spoons

When your baby reaches out for the spoon, parent should prepare spoon made of baby-safe material with a small round tip and a thick handle. Give him a spoon to explore. Feed him with another spoon.

At about 12 months old, your baby may dips the spoon into the bowl and then puts it into his mouth.  He becomes more skilful in using spoon at 12 to 18 months old.  Let him try to feed himself with a spoon while you are feeding him.  Give him some other food to hold in his hands and eat.

Why does my baby put everything she picks up into her mouth?

6 to 12 month old babies use various senses to learn about an object, e.g. touching, smelling, banging, putting it into the mouth, and observing how others respond to their actions. This also helps them learn whether the object is edible.

Pay attention to home safety when helping your baby to learn and explore:

  • Put away things that may cause choking or harm;
  • Always stay close and keep an eye on your baby;
  • Maintain good hygiene in your home.

Responding to your baby’s attempts to self feed 

During feeding, your baby may grab the feeding spoon, let him take it if it is suitable for him and feed him with another one.

During feeding, your baby may bang with a spoon, let him play with it gently as babies usually explore objects in this way. If the noise disturbs others, distract him and take away the spoon.

Baby can learn about the food by touching, pinching, tasting, dropping or throwing it. During feeding, your baby may act like he is "playing" with the food, for example by poking it with fingers, you do not need to stop him. Draw his attention to the spoon and food. Feed him when he opens his mouth.  If he tends to ignore the food you offer him and continues "playing", he is full. You should stop feeding him.

During feeding, your baby may pick up the food and eat, you should praise him.

(Content revised 08/2017)