In a fast-paced world that is eager to move from one phase to another, we see babies moving to table food much earlier than in the past. Not that this is a bad thing– kids can learn to be very adventurous eaters during this process! There are also so many baby food items that are now created for busy parents and designed to be “on the go,” and this means that babies are using their hands to feed themselves quite frequently. Nothing is wrong with this, as long as we don’t forget to introduce our littles one to the basics… like the SPOON! Why is eating from a spoon so important? Let me tell you a few reasons why your child should not skip the spoon!
Motor Development Skills. Using a spoon can help a child develop hand-eye coordination needed to use utensils in a more advanced way as they age. They will learn correct grasp, hand-to-mouth movements, and how to scoop food from a bowl onto a spoon, for example. By taking food from a spoon, your child will learn how to move food from the front of the mouth to the back in order to swallow correctly. Let’s not forget– studies show that mouthing objects can help prepare the muscles in a babies’ mouth for movements that mimic speech and language.
Exposure To Textures. If you look at most jarred baby foods, you will see them listed as “stages,” and each one varies in texture: thin, thicker, and soft, chewable chunks of food mixed in a puree, This change in texture prepares your baby for table food, as it prepares their sensory system to handle a variety of food types. The “chunkier” baby foods encourage tongue movement as babies are learning how to move food to the sides of their mouth to break down the food and prepare for a swallow- these are the first steps of learning to chew! Transitioning through these stages of baby food is important for overall development.
Encourages Family Bonding. Mealtimes are a very social part of life, and babies are social beings! Spoon feeding your child allows you to interact with your baby during mealtimes and creates positive eating habits. This can also strengthen relationships between siblings! If you have an older child, let them help with feeding the baby! Dads- this is a great way for you to be involved in meal times too!
Feeding Independence. Teaching your baby to eat from a spoon will spark their interest in the utensil itself! You will find that babies will quickly want to hold the spoon with you during feedings. I recommend that you give your baby a spoon to hold while you feed them. This allows your baby to be a part of the process, gives them the ability to explore the object and become familiar with what is going in their mouth, and allows the experience to be meaningful for both the parent and the child! As your child develops, you can begin letting them attempt to spoon-feed themselves. WARNING: This will get messy…. And we are here for it! Being messy while eating may be a nuisance for the parents, but it helps develop their sensory system and is REALLY good for your baby!
Hey- We get it. As parents, sometimes we need to have food items (e.g. pouches, finger foods, etc.) that are more convenient. There is nothing wrong with that! Let’s just not forget to scoop out the applesauce, yogurt, and pureed food and use a spoon every once in a while. You’ll be amazed at what all your child learns in the process!
If you are in the Knoxville area and have any concerns regarding your child’s feeding development, please contact us at (865) 236-0103 for a free consultation. We’d love to meet you!
Chariti is a licensed/certified Speech Language Pathologist in Knoxville, Tennessee and owner of Great Adventures Therapy. LLC.