Start spoon feeding baby
6 Spoon-Feeding Techniques to Create Lifelong Healthy Eating Habits | by My Baba
Nancy Ripton and Melanie Potock, authors of ‘Baby Self-Feeding’, encourage you to make your own informed decision on whether or not to feed your baby purees. Like finger foods, purees play an important role in mouth development and learning to accept different food tastes and textures. In their view, purees should be a part of your child’s early food experience and beyond, in conjunction with safe finger or handheld foods. Young children can handle different tastes, textures, and feeding experiences. Sampling a variety of foods now leads to a child who is a more adventurous eater later in life.
The Role of Early Spoon-Feeding
Spoon-feeding your baby purees plays a specific, useful role. Babies develop better lip control and movement as they suck a puree off a spoon. It also limits the amount of food your baby will spit out and gets more food into your baby’s tummy. However, most parents place the spoon in their child’s mouth and then scrape the food off on the top of their baby’s lip as they remove the spoon. Instead, you can teach your baby to suck the food off the spoon.
PROPER SPOON-FEEDING TECHNIQUES
Teaching your baby to suck food off a spoon the correct way helps to position her tongue in the proper place in order to push food toward her throat.
- Get down on eye level with your baby. Do not feed your baby while you are standing above her. When a baby has to look up at you, it makes it more difficult for her to swallow comfortably. Plus, you’ll tend to lift the spoon upward.
- Start with the tip of the spoon dipped in the puree. Think of first tastes as just that — a taste. Gradually work up to a spoonful.
- Bring the spoon toward your baby’s mouth, waiting for him to open and accept the spoon. Reading your baby’s cues is essential. You are building a nurturing relationship where the shared experience of feeding is the foundation. Resist the urge to scrape the food off on your baby’s upper lip or the roof of his mouth. Allow him to close his top lip and suck the puree off the spoon while you guide the spoon straight out of his mouth in tandem. Keeping the spoon parallel to the floor helps your baby develop the proper tongue position for the next phase, swallowing.
- Allow time for your baby to propel the puree backward and swallow. This typically takes a second or two, but at first you’ll notice baby pushing the food back out and then swallowing. With time, this suckle reflex (a forward/backward motion) will begin to fade and she will eventually swallow more food than she pushes out.
- Repeat. Remember to read your baby’s cues, smile, and talk to him. Eating is a social experience. You’ll know your baby is eager to participate if he:
- Opens his mouth as the spoon approaches.
- Leans forward slightly to accept the spoon.
- Has a pleasant expression on his face.
- Gazes at you while you are feeding.
- Grabs at the spoon to bring it to his mouth on his own or with your help.
- If baby closes her mouth, becomes fussy, or is otherwise resistant to eating, don’t force it. Put the food away and feed with breast milk or formula. Then try puree again in another day or two. Watch for signs that your baby is not ready to be fed:
- Turns away from the spoon
- Closes mouth when spoon approaches
- Gazes away from the spoon
- Blocks spoon with hands or covers mouth with hands
The Benefits of Starting with Purees
- Reduces gagging and discomfort for baby.
- Increases chance of having a positive first experience with food.
- Helps teach your baby proper swallowing technique.
- Introduces your child to the texture of pureed food
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SPOON
A spoon is simply a tool to present purees. Many parents in countries around the world use their finger, a piece of solid food dipped in puree, or even baby’s own hands as the first tool for presenting “suckable” foods. For the purposes of this book, we suggest a spoon, with the understanding that it’s the act of sucking the puree that is most important.
Parents often feed babies with adult-size spoons or toddler spoons, when in fact the first spoon should be very flat with a small “spoon-bowl.” Babies have small mouths and need small spoons for comfort and for learning how to suck food off a spoon. Choose a spoon that has a flat, narrow bowl just big enough to fit over your baby’s tongue, but not cover the edges of the tongue. Your child needs to be able to lift the sides (lateral margins) of her tongue upward just slightly as the spoon rests on her tongue, then close her top lip and clean the food off the spoon as you draw it out of her mouth. Learning to use the lateral margins of the tongue and the lips (especially the top lip) helps a child develop a mature swallow pattern for chewing and swallowing more advanced textures with ease.
The Transition to Self-Spoon-Feeding
The secret to getting the most out of self-feeding is to know when to move on from exclusive purees. Most babies can start to self-feed by seven months. Although you can continue to offer purees occasionally, they should no longer make up a large part of your baby’s diet after seven or eight months of age. A baby who gets too used to a certain way of eating can become reluctant to try new tastes and textures. He will also miss out on the learning experience of feeding himself at a young age. Once your baby can competently swallow purees, it’s time to introduce self-spoon-feeding and finger foods. Babies will begin dipping with a spoon around nine months of age. The next step is scooping, which may emerge a few months later. Parents can keep offering spoonfuls of purees and mashed foods to their babies until about 12 months of age. Offering a spoon occasionally during this time period exposes children to a variety of tastes and textures while they learn to manage the dipping, and later scooping, stages on their own. Mastering messy, self-spoon-feeding may not happen until about 15 to 18 months.
Edited extract from Baby Self-Feeding: Solid Food Solutions to Create Lifelong, Healthy Eating Habits by Melanie Potock and Nancy Ripton, published by Fair Winds Press (£16.99), is out now.
How to Spoon Feed Baby the Right Way!
Learn how to spoon feed baby even if you’re using baby led weaning, and how to troubleshoot baby gagging, throwing food on the floor, and more!
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Starting solid foods is an exciting time for you and your baby! But, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with exactly how to spoon feed your baby.
Is there a right way?
A wrong way?
Or, maybe your baby is having a hard time eating from a spoon?
As a pediatric OT, I’ll be answering all those questions so you can feel confident getting started or troubleshooting spoon feeding your baby.
When Should You Introduce Purees?
Let’s get started with the best time to start spoon feeding your baby.
In the past, it was recommended to introduce solids between 4-6 months. Some doctors would even recommend introducing thin cereals before that or adding them into the bottle.
Your parents may have fed you this way.
But, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends waiting until 6 months of age before introducing solids to your baby. They continue to recommend soft or pureed foods as the first introduction to solid foods in order to prevent choking.
We now know that babies’ digestion systems just aren’t mature enough to handle foods and that most don’t have the postural control for safe swallowing before 6 months.
Before 6 months, a powerful tongue thrust is also likely to be present which means your baby may inadvertently push the food back out of their mouth when you try to spoon feed them at an earlier age.
Parents often confuse this with a baby not liking the baby food, but it’s actually an involuntary action.
So, despite what well meaning grandparents may say, we now know waiting till 6 months is the best time frame for beginning to spoon feed your baby.
Head to our Feeding Schedule for 6-7 month olds to get an idea of how, and often when, you should be spoon feeding your baby.
What About Baby Led Weaning (BLW)?
In more recent years, there has been a huge movement towards Baby Led Weaning (BLW).
Baby led weaning is a method for introducing solid foods by allowing your baby to feed themselves rather than be spoon fed by a parent. Read about the pros and cons of Baby Led Weaning.
Baby Led Weaning gives babies the ultimate sensory experience while they eat, but it can also lead to delayed introduction of solids during your baby’s optimal window if they aren’t getting the hang of eating BLW type foods.
Some babies do really well learning to eat with BLW, and some don’t.
Whether you choose to go the BLW route or not, purees are still important to feed your baby sometimes because you’ll want them to also be able to eat foods like applesauce, yogurts, and soups.
Check out our Mega List of Table Foods for great food ideas to start with.
How to Start Spoon Feeding Baby
Step #1: Make sure that they’re 6 months old, have good head control, and can sit upright to eat and swallow.
Step #2: Get them in the right position.
The position of your baby is often overlooked. It’s easy to sit them on your lap while feeding them or feed them while they’re in the car seat. But that isn’t the safest position and can impair the development of their feeding skills.
Sitting on your lap or not in a supported seat is actually more challenging for babies. If your baby is focusing all their energy on sitting upright, they aren’t able to use their mouth as effectively.
To ensure your baby is seated properly, position them in an age appropriate booster seat or highchair with a footrest.
Ideally their hips, knees and feet should be at a 90 degree angle if possible.
This means that when babies are first learning to eat, they should have support under their feet and they shouldn’t look slumped over. Not every highchair or booster seat does a good job keeping your little one in the right position.
My absolute favorite chair that grows with them into childhood is the Tripp Trapp, it’s an investment, but they’re so well made, they last forever.
My son is 7 and has been using it since he was 6 months old!
The Keekaroo is another option that’s a little lower in price.
Step #3: Use a spoon with a flat small bowl, it’s easier for your baby to remove the food.
The bowl of the spoon is so important. You want it to be mostly flat or to have a shallow bowl. That means it can’t hold too much of the puree on it.
The spoon should also have a narrow bowl. If your baby is right around 6 months old, their mouth isn’t big. The narrow bowl fits in their mouth much better than a big wide spoon.
See a list of our favorite spoons at the end.
Step #4: Choose a totally smooth thinner baby food.
If you’re using store bought baby food use stage 1 for the first feedings. If you’re making homemade baby food, you don’t want the food to be too thick. Think about making it thick enough for baby to swallow, but not so thin it’s like liquid.
Homemade baby food at this stage should spill off the spoon easily, but still have some stuck to the spoon when you turn it upside down.
Step #5: Place the right amount of puree on the spoon.
You’ll want to avoid overfilling or under-filling the spoon. You should have some puree on it, ideally near the front of the spoon.
Avoid scooping and loading up the spoon with as much puree as possible. This can be really overwhelming to your baby, especially if they’re just learning to eat purees.
Too much food in their mouth can also trigger their gag reflex.
If your baby does gag, don’t panic, it’s normal. Gagging and choking are two different things. Read more about what to do when babies gag eating.
Step #6: Let your baby decide when to take a bite.
Place the spoon right in front of your baby and wait until they open their mouth. This puts them in charge of their responsibility right from the start, they are the ones that decide to eat.
You want to avoid opening their mouth for them or trying to sneak a bite in their mouth when they look away.
Helping your baby learn that they get to decide when to take a bite can reduce feeding battles and picky eating in the years to come.
Step #7: Place the spoon in the center of their mouth.
The spoon should go in the center of their mouth, above their tongue. You may gently use the back of the spoon to add a small bit of pressure to the middle belly of the tongue.
This is helpful if their tongue seems to be moving quite a bit.
Step 8: Wait for them to close their mouth.
When you’re excited and you really want them to take a bite, it can be hard to wait! But be sure to wait until they close their mouth on the spoon.
This lets them know what their job is, and helps lay the foundation for them to be able to feed themselves.
What to Avoid When Spoon Feeding Baby…
You have 8 simple steps to follow! But, there are a few things you’ll want to avoid. You’ll likely see others doing these things while feeding their babies, because they’re all very common.
However, each of them can cause difficulties with eating and swallowing either in the moment you’re feeding your baby or in the future. Here’s what to avoid…
- Avoid scraping food on the roof of your baby’s mouth. You want to wait until your little one closes their mouth on the spoon.
- Don’t feed them in a reclined position. Car seats, strollers, and infant positioners all should be avoided. An upright high chair or booster seat is ideal to make sure your baby doesn’t gag, choke, or aspirate.
- Avoid distractions like the TV, phone, or toys. If they’re distracted while eating, they aren’t fully experiencing all the different flavors and textures.
- No force feeding. Let your little one decide when to take a bite. This reduces the chance of picky eating later on and sets them up for positive mealtimes in the future.
In these early days, some babies need a lot of time to get used to purees. However, if your baby is reaching the 8-9 month mark and still struggling, there could be some underlying difficulties that need addressed.
See our free workshop to learn more and contact your child’s doctor.
- Don’t overfill the spoon. You want a medium amount of puree on the spoon, near the front of the bowl.
Troubleshooting Spoon Feeding Challenges
It’s very normal for babies to need some help getting the hang of eating purees. They’re learning and may need a little more time. Here’s some common challenges you might be faced with and what you can do…
Challenge #1: Your baby won’t open their mouth
When your baby won’t open their mouth for the spoon, this can be really discouraging as a parent of a new eater!
Modeling is especially helpful in these cases. Take your own spoon and a little bite of the puree. Open your mouth wide and really over exaggerate what you’re doing.
Show your baby how to do it.
You can also try placing a mirror in front of your baby while they eat or give them their own spoon that is pre-dipped with puree to try out.
Challenge #2: Your baby won’t close their mouth on the spoon
If your baby won’t close their mouth on the spoon, scraping the puree into their mouth is tempting. You want to avoid this!
It doesn’t teach them how to use their muscles to eat. It also teaches them that they have to eat a particular food, which can encourage pickiness later on.
Frequently, if they don’t close their mouth on the spoon, it’s because they don’t know they’re supposed to.
You can encourage this by very gently rolling your finger above their upper lip in a downward motion towards their mouth. Showing them how to take a bite with an exaggerated close is also helpful.
Keep practicing for up to 8 months of age before seeking more help from the doctor or a feeding therapist.
Challenge #3: Your baby gags with purees
Gagging can get a bad wrap. Gagging happens first as a protective mechanism to prevent your baby from choking. But it can also turn into a problem if it starts to happen often. Or, before food even hits their mouth.
Sometimes excessive gagging happens because your baby’s mouth is sensitive to sensory input, or the textures of food.
It can be helpful to desensitize their mouth with teethers or toothbrushing. You can brush their gums even if they don’t have teeth yet!
Challenge #4: Your baby throws their bowl or spoon
We hear parents tell us that their baby is throwing their food, plate, or utensils all the time. If your baby is doing this, you’re not alone at all!
Usually this happens just because they’re testing things out at first. It makes a fun noise or you make a funny face whenever they do it.
It can be tempting to react negatively whenever food is thrown. Try to resist the urge and stay as neutral as possible. A negative reaction is still a reaction and can sometimes encourage them to do it more.
Try using a simple phrase like, “our food stays on the tray” and move on. It can also be helpful to use plates and bowls that suction well to their highchair to buy you a bit more time before the food flies.
Learn more in how to help babies and toddlers stop throwing food.
Challenge #5: Your baby always wants to hold the spoon
This is actually such a good thing, even though it can feel frustrating when you’re just introducing purees. They’re motivated to feed themselves!
Give them a spoon of their own that has been dipped in a little bit of puree while also having your own spoon. You can take turns doing the feeding.
It might be frustrating because they will make a big mess at first and likely will get just a little bit of puree in their mouth. This is a great step towards their independence!
While 6 months is the perfect time to start spoon feeding your baby, and you should give your baby plenty of time to get the hang of it, your baby should be eating purees regularly by 8 months of age, even if it’s a small amount.
If you’ve tried all the tips and tricks we’ve suggested and they still aren’t eating solids by 9 months, it’s time to get some more help!
Our free Table Foods Workshop is the perfect place to start. It’s full of suggestions that you can start using immediately. Save your seat HERE.
Our Favorite Baby Feeding Spoons
- Take and toss spoons
- These are great spoons. They have a narrow and flatter bowl. They’re also super affordable. You certainly can take and toss them, as they suggest. But, they can also be quickly hand washed and reused. The spoons are a bit softer and more flexible. They’re great spoons to start with!
- Maroon spoon
- Maroon spoons are spoons you commonly see therapists use. They’re a bit pricier though. The bowl is relatively narrow and flat, which is perfect for babies to pull puree off of more easily. These spoons are made from harder plastic.
- Flat Spoon Dippers
- These spoons were intended for babies to feed themselves. The bowl is narrow, textured, and completely flat. There is also a guard to prevent your baby from pushing the spoon too far down. Great for reducing gagging.
- EZ PEZE bowl
- While this isn’t a spoon, it’s a great tool to have on hand when you’re feeding your baby purees. It suctions to the tray and doesn’t slip very easily. It can be really helpful, especially if your baby loves to throw their bowl.
You’re all set! It’s time to feed that sweet little baby. Try to have fun. Let your baby play, experiment, and laugh while eating.
Let them get messy! (See why here)
Got any questions? Leave them in the comments below, we respond to every single one.
And, if you want to get ready for the next steps of feeding, table foods, grab our guide for teaching your baby how to learn to chew and eat them here!
More on Feeding Babies
5 Things Parents With They’d Known Sooner About Feeding Their Baby or Toddler
Why Your Baby Should Be Putting Toys in Their Mouth
Feeding Schedule for 8, 9 and 10 Month Olds
Must-Know Pros and Cons of Using Baby Food Pouches
Andrea Timler is a licensed occupational therapist and part of the Your Kid’s Table Team. She has over 7 years experience with expertise in development and feeding in babies, toddlers, and children. Andrea also has 4 kiddos of her own at home.
Right and wrong ways of spoon feeding
Right and wrong ways of spoon feeding
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Did you know that spoon-feeding can be wrong? The wrong way is to raise your hand up as if you want to remove the spoon from the child's mouth. Thus, before the food is in his mouth, the spoon will scratch his teeth, tongue and upper lip.
Scraping food off a spoon while eating is not correct. This method is especially unsuitable for children with a delay in oral-motor development. This makes it impossible for the lips to do their job of closing around the spoon. It also causes the baby to reach for the spoon, as can be seen in the picture above or below at the start of the video.
The correct way to spoon feed: place the spoon on the top of the tongue and hold until the baby closes its lips. Then take the spoon straight out of your mouth (don't hold it at an angle). The child should sit straight, not lift his head. As the girl's mother rightly noted in the video, thanks to this position she eats, not you feed her. On the last spoon in the video, you can see how her lips work.
Children should instinctively close their lips, but if they fail, there are several ways to help build oral motor skills:
- Give it time - you can hold the spoon until the child closes their lips.
- You can also gently press the spoon on your tongue to stimulate your lips.
- For children with strong oral sensory defenses, a vibrating spoon can help wake up the mouth and reduce sensitivity. Tongue massage before meals (and throughout the day) can also help
- You can stretch your lips slightly beforehand to help them grasp the spoon.
There are several techniques to stretch the lips:
- Gently pull the upper lip down with the tip of your finger (or your whole finger). Repeat the same on the lower lip - gently pull it up. The same can be done with the Y-Chew probe
- Gently grab a piece of skin between the nose and upper lip and pull it down. Repeat with the area of skin just under the lower lip - pull it up.
- Bring your thumb and forefinger together and place them between your nose and upper lip, fingers apart, pressing them against your lip. Repeat with lower lip
- Stand behind the child and place the index finger on the upper lip and the thumb under the lower lip, close the fingers like scissors to help the child close the lips
Your therapist will help you learn how to put these techniques into practice. Remember that stretching your lips before meals may not be enough. Watch how the child eats and if he stops working with his lips, then repeat the exercises again.
Also, try not to put too much food on the spoon. No "with a slide." The best are small pieces that are easy to handle. A large amount of food in one sitting is not easy to collect.
Usually when I come across parents who are not feeding their baby properly, it's because they just don't know how, or they're in too much of a hurry. So now that you know exactly what to do and how to do it, give yourself enough time to practice. This will take time, but in the future, less food will fall out of the mouth, the child will play less and will get a lot of benefit from the ability to work well with lips.
Categories: occupational therapy, feeding.
How to spoon feed? - Encyclopedia Baby foodLevchuk Victoria ©
An article for those who supplement with a spoon or how to feed with a spoon. We will not discuss whether it is useful to supplement / spoon feed a child, about the benefits of independence, etc. Let's talk about the right and wrong way to spoon feed. The wrong way is to raise your hand up when you take the spoon out of the child's mouth. This method cleans the spoon from food on the teeth, gums or upper lip.
Scraping is not a normal, natural way of feeding. This method of feeding prevents the lips from doing their job and shrinking around the spoon. In this case, the child's head leans back when he tries to lick the spoon and swallow food.
Most often we see well-intentioned parents putting a spoon in their child's mouth. The adult lifts the spoon and cleans the spoon most often on the baby's upper lip . This can be an effective way of getting food into the child's mouth, but the child does not practice using the muscles of the lips, cheeks, and jaw in a more controlled and mature manner.
Have him see and smell the food before putting it in his mouth. Let your child touch the food with their fingers before putting it in their mouth. He might want to dip his finger into the plate and lick it, okay. The first time feeding is necessary, the baby is exploring the world in this way.
2. Put the spoon on the tongue and hold it there until the child closes the lips.
3. Then take the spoon straight out of the mouth (not at an angle). The chin should remain straight and not rise up. The child must learn to eat food, and thoughtless swallowing does not teach anything. If the mother undertook to feed the child from a spoon, then we do it right.
4. Rejection . If he refuses, then offer the child several times, you can just get your lips dirty in food so that he licks them in order to feel the texture and taste of food on his lips in a playful way. Let's not rush.
- How to teach a child to chew?
- At what age does a child begin to eat independently?
Spoon-feeding and speech
What is spoon-feeding? Just opened, chewed, closed. But it turns out that the sensory-motor system is involved in the process of spoon-feeding. Here are a few examples of the benefits of proper spoon feeding.
1. When the spoon is fed into the mouth in a forward/forward motion, the child must use the lip muscles to clear the spoon of food. These are the same muscles that are used to create the sounds "M", "P", "B".
2. Proposal of the spoon straight will make it easier to round the lips. Rounding the lips helps to make the sounds "O", "U", "A".
3. Offering a spoon from the side or corner of the lips will make it easier to close the lips. Closing the lips helps to make the sounds "M", "P", "B".
4. Closing the lips is also important for controlling saliva and keeping food in the mouth while eating.
5. Over time, the spoon helps the child practice using the jaw muscles as they open and close their mouth to eat in a more controlled manner.
How can I help my child eat from a spoon?
Children should instinctively close their lips, but if they don't, there are a few things that can be done to help oral-motor skill:
until the lips close.
2. Light pressure on the tongue can be used to close the lips.
3. For children with oral-motor problems, 9 can be selected0003 vibrating spoon , and still massage the gums before eating.
4. It may be necessary to stretch the lips beforehand to help close the lips.
Gymnastics to learn to close the mouth
There are many different lip stretching techniques that parents can try to spoon feed their baby:
- Gently pull out the upper lip with the pad of your finger. Repeat on the lower lip, gently stretching it up.
- Gently pinch the philtrum or philtrum (the skin between the nose and upper lip) and pull downward.