There are countless examples of you absolutely crushing it at this parenting thing. You can bandage boo-boos like a boss, scare away monsters under the bed with the best of them, and you make the most delicious grilled cheese sandwich on the entire planet. Remember all of those things when I tell you this next thing: you are not great at spoon-feeding your baby, and need to stop.
I mean it. Unless there is a medical or developmental reason your little one needs your help, it is in their best interest that you let them do it themselves as often as possible.
Here are three reasons why.
1. You're Kinda Bad At It. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Generally speaking the vast majority of us are really bad at reading our kids signals of fullness. As a result when we are spoon feeding them, we tend to over feed. And while this might seem like a great way to get those picturesque cherub cheeks, what it really does is that our kids up for some potentially poor mealtime habits.
Kids who retain control over the self-feeding process, are more likely to be adventurous eaters and are less likely to eat more than their body needs - they will be better able to listen to their hunger cues as they get older. So, even if you don’t do it every time, practice giving your kids an opportunity to feed themselves ... spoons not required!
With that said, you can use spoons - like our ergonomically curved spoons - that are specifically designed to make it easier for your child to hold and use! And if you're not sure that our spoons are right, you can use this Guide To Spoons to help you decide which ones might be.
2. They Don't Want You To. (Which means now you've picked a fight.) Ask any parent of a toddler and they will tell you: the words you’ll hear more often than any other are usually “No!” and “I do it!” That’s because your kids want control. There is so little in their environment they can control, then they will assert their effort to take as much of it as possible, as often as possible.
What does this mean for meal time? Well, your little ones want to feed themselves. They want to be able to DO. IT. THEMSELVES. And when you tell them "No", you’ve now taken away a little piece of their independence and their control. Sometimes they let this pass, but more often than not it will lead to increasingly difficult meal times down the road.
3. It's Not Your Job. I am a strong believer in Ellen Satter’s Division of Responsibility, which states that it’s a parents job to decide what is served at mealtime and when, and the child’s job to decide how much they want to eat. I know this may sound crazy. I know it may even feel scary. And I know you’re thinking: “But what if he only eats his favorite food and then stops?” or “What if she only has has a couple of bites and then says she’s full and then 20 minutes later is asking for food again?”
If he only eats his favorite food but you've continued to offer little tastes of new things, be patient. He will come around. And if she only eats a few bites before claiming victory over her hunger reminder her that this is lunch and there won't be food again until 3:00 (remember, you decide when foods are served). Then, steel yourself to her whining between 12:45 and 3:00 and be patient. She will come around.
So what can you do? Occasionally, and increasingly often as you feel comfortable, give your little one a chance to feed herself. Let her make a mess. Let her feel the yogurt between her fingers (and in her hair). Let your toddler go a little hungry for an hour (knowing and naming this feeling is actually a good thing) and tell him that he does have the power to withstand the hunger and to make it go away at dinner. Let him chose not to eat broccoli, but put a little on his plate anyway. And remember, you're a boo-boo fixin' BOSS.