Feeding your baby solids can seem tricky at first, but we promise it’ll get easier! It can take months for your baby to master the art of feeding himself, so it’s important to know what to expect and be patient.
These simple food parenting tips really work to help baby improve his fine motor skills and develop his taste for a variety of nutritious foods. We’ll also let you in on our secrets for less wasted food and easier cleanup.
A messy baby is a learning baby! Right now, your baby has a lot to learn, and you’re her best teacher. As she watches you eat, then tries to use a spoon with your help, she’ll start developing the skills she needs. But she’s still learning, so it’s OK if food gets everywhere.
Babies love to touch and feel, because that’s how they get familiar with new things. She may take food off the spoon, play with it, put it in her mouth or spread it around the high chair. That’s perfectly normal.
Tip: For quick floor cleanup, put a newspaper, paper grocery bags or paper towels under the high chair. For easier baby cleanup, strip her down to just a diaper and plastic bib during meals. You may find that popping your baby in a bath is quicker and easier than doing loads of laundry!
As your baby gets better at eating, she’ll show you she’s interested in feeding himself. She might try to grab the spoon and put it in her mouth or start picking up food with her fingers. Let her take the lead, but be ready to step in if she’s frustrated and wants help.
Letting your baby advance from spoon feeding to finger foods when she’s ready is an important step for baby, and it’ll mean your hands are free to feed yourself!
Tip: Serve finger foods that are easy for baby to feed herself. Think diced ripe fruit, well-steamed veggies, whole-wheat noodles and scrambled eggs.
We adults don’t always love a new food at first bite, so it’s normal for babies to need a few tries, too.
You can teach baby to like a variety of foods by offering them again and again. In fact, babies might try a food 15 to 20 times before they like it. If he makes funny faces, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t like it. It often means it’s just a new flavor or texture he hasn’t tasted before.
If your baby shows you he’s not interested in a new food, trust him and try again a few days later. The best way to prevent a future picky eater—and develop a healthy eater—is to let your baby decide when he’s ready to try a new food. Teach him to keep an open mind by being a good role model and eating healthy foods, too.
- Instead of feeding straight from the jar, spoon a small amount of baby food into a separate bowl to feed your baby. That way, if he refuses it, you can store the rest of the jar in the fridge to try again in two or three days. Feeding from the jar means bacteria from the spoon gets into the food, and leftovers will need to be tossed.
- Babies like to eat what’s on their parents’ plate, so include some foods baby can share. Offer to let him try your food. If he doesn’t want it, it’s all yours!
- Prepare just enough food for him to have a small taste.
Bonus tip: Take heart: this stage will pass, and your baby will be eating on his own before you know it!