Children have a natural drive for independence and control from a very young age, especially when it comes to eating. By allowing your child to self-feed and participate as fully as possible in their meal, you create valuable opportunities for children to be exposed to a variety of foods and practice essential skills. Provide your child with the right tools:
- Get your child involved in mealtime preparation in any way possible. (Helping cook the food, or set the table) this increases their comfort level with a variety of foods, prepares them for what foods they will be presented with during the meal.
- Allow your child to make choices between foods whenever possible. Make sure that you will be happy with whatever choice your child decides upon (e.g. offer the choice of broccoli vs. green beans but not broccoli vs. cookies).
- Avoid sippy cups. Use straw cups or open cups instead. Babies as young as six months can begin to use straw cups. Sippy cups can create an open-bite and a tongue thrust swallowing pattern in some children, which adversely affects articulation and dentition.
- After age 18 months, try to avoid feeding your child as much as possible. Developmentally, children at this age are ready to be fully independent eaters.
- It’s OK to get messy! The sensory experience of getting messy can foster greater exposure to and acceptance of foods. Allow your child to attempt self-feeding as much as possible, even it means making a mess.
Chatterboxes offers quality Speech-Language & Occupational Therapy in Boston, MA. We also offer flexible service options for your family. Call us today at 617-969-8255 or visit us at 121 Mt Vernon St, Boston, MA 02108.