baby feeding

Good reasons to let babies eat with their hands

Good reasons to let babies eat with their hands

Food diversification, this big step in the life of your little one, also leaves room for new experiences for your young gourmet! At around 5 months, Baby discovers that he is able to grab, pick up and hold things with his hands. If at this age he begins to grab his feet to bring them to his mouth, it is also at this time that he plunges his hands into his plates.

Why does baby eat with his hands?

“A baby always makes his first discoveries with his hands and his mouth” confirms Emilie Chailloux Legault, Pediatrician for Biloba, the application that accompanies young parents. From the first months, Baby grabs and touches objects with his little fingers, it’s a good way for him to explore the world around him and make his own discoveries! Around 5 months, touch is a sense that has (almost) no more secrets for him. Now he knows how to hold objects firmly and if his gestures are still awkward, day after day, they will become more and more precise. At the time of food diversification, between 4 and 6 months, Baby cannot resist plunging his fingers into purees and also taking with both hands the small vegetables and other pieces that await him on his plate.

Should babies be allowed to eat with their hands?

Catch food with your hands, the little ones do it naturally when they start food diversification. Parents can very well teach their child to eat with a spoon at the same time: “It’s normal for a child to grab food with his hands. From the first purees, offer your baby his food with a spoon. There is no specific age to start but between around 9 and 12 months, gently invite Baby to take the spoon himself with his hand. Show him the example by also eating with a spoon, children learn very quickly by imitation. Take your time and be patient, some Babies succeed more quickly than others in handling the cutlery quickly” explains our pediatrician.

If baby eats with a spoon and starts eating with his fingers again, should he be stopped?

Growing up, the handling of the teaspoon has almost no more secrets for Baby. Now he takes his little spoon, dips it into the food on his plate and brings it to his mouth without spilling it or getting it everywhere. However, he continues to regularly put his hands in his food to pick it up with his fingers. “Baby has understood that it’s easier to grab food with his hands than with his spoon. If he uses his hands again, it is not a phase of regression, quite the contrary, it is a desire for empowerment. In our Western society, knowing how to eat with cutlery is part of the customs and social codes to know. At the table, cutlery is used at each meal. Baby can eat with his fingers as long as he continues to eat mainly with his spoon. He does not want ? Keep patience! Let Baby have the time he needs to eat exclusively with his spoon and continue to offer it to him at each baby meal”, specifies our pediatrician.

Until what age should baby be allowed to eat with his fingers?

Learn to eat with cutlery is a long-term job, Baby can take several months to succeed in holding his spoon correctly and eating cleanly, without getting food everywhere. It is often between 2 and a half and 3 years old that he will use his cutlery including his spoon and that he will join us at the family table (if you have not already installed him among you before).

The DME encourages Baby to eat with his fingers!

Child-led diversification or self-directed diversification (CMD as it is called) is another way of approaching child dietary diversification. It consists of leaving the child to eat alone with his hands as cutlery. More concretely, at the time of food diversification, instead of eating purees with a spoon, we offer food in pieces (in addition to milk) to Baby that he can take with his little hands. We start the DME around 6 months, Baby must be able to hold his head correctly and sit very stable on his own. The benefits of DME? She is playful, Baby eats on his own from the start, this develops his jaw, his fine motor skills and his autonomy. On the other hand, there are some precautions to take: cut baby’s food into large pieces (the size of his fist), cook them well (with steam) and make sure that they are neither too soft nor too hard. Protect the child with a large bib or smock because he will get it everywhere! And don’t panic if your child has a high heart because of a piece played too quickly. Avoid jerking him out of his chair. You can trust Baby’s vomiting reflex: he will eject the piece using his mouth muscles.

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