Raising an independent eater
Your child is starting to become more independent and you may even start to notice this at mealtimes. For example, he might insist on feeding himself rather than have you help. Messy as this may be, the toddler stage is a great time for your child to practice his self-feeding skills.
By now, your toddler may be drinking from a cup and eating with his fingers. In the months ahead, your child will be further developing his hand and finger skills. He has probably already tried eating with a spoon, but it isn't an easy skill to master, and it won't happen overnight.
At first your child will dip the spoon in the food, but will need your help to fill it and get it to his mouth. As his skills progress, he’ll be able to scoop food on the spoon by himself and bring it to his mouth. Once he's used the spoon successfully, you can give him a fork to practice spearing foods.
Learn more about what to expect from your toddler during mealtimes in our new video or the Start Healthy, Stay Healthy™ Nutrition Guide.
As your child develops his feeding skills, be patient and give him opportunities to practice these skills rather than always jumping in to help. And be sure to encourage him by letting him know when he's doing a good job.
Toddlers Love to Imitate
Toddlers are always watching—and learning. This is true at the dinner table as well. Help your toddler learn about family meals with these tips:
- Include your toddler in conversations during the meal. Ask him about something he did that day.
- Keep mealtimes stress-free and positive. Talk about happy things.
- Eat around a table so family members can see and interact with one another.
- Turn off the TV during meals to keep the focus on the food and family.
Can't get your child to sit still long enough to eat at the family table? Try these tricks!