Promoting Self-Feeding to a Baby: Learning to Chew

Alula has been eating solids since two months ago. I encourage her to self-fed herself as I wanted her to be independent and have a good self-confidence.

It turns out that our feeding method corresponds to the release of The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CESFEL) of Vanderbilt University on Teaching Children to Become Independent with Daily Routines. According to CESFEL, children who are 8 to 18 months old often can:

  • Drink from a cup, pick up finger food, and begin to use a spoon
  • Help undress and dress, put foot in shoe and arm in sleeve
  • Point to body parts
  • Have strong feelings and begin saying “no”
  • Reach for/point to choices
  • Feel a sense of security with routines and expectations (e.g. at bedtime)
  • Imitate sounds and movement
  • Understand more than they can say

Based on the list above, self-feeding is a skill set that is precisely according to my baby's range of age. After two months of eating solids, Alula's self-feeding skill develops tremendously. On the old days, she would throw the half finger food whenever it reaches her grip line, as she couldn't move up the remaining food to be bitten. Now, she is more capable to handle the food in her hands. She is able to finish whatever foods that she has in her grip.

However, she still needs to learn to chew. It's not that she can't chew at all. She is able to chew despite of having no teeth (yet). It's only that she couldn't  handle a big bite.  

Today Alula is having her favourite fruit in her meal, strawberry. Whenever she sees strawberry she will be excited and eat it rushingly. The problem is, when she eat rushingly, she often has a big bite of the fruit that makes her gag.

I come up with a fun way to remind her to chew slowly. I sing!

Red strawberry.. Red strawberry..
You must chew.. You must chew..
Nyam nyam nyam nyam nyam nyam
Nyam nyam nyam nyam nyam nyam
So yummy.. so yummy..

(with the rhymes of "Are You Sleeping" song)

Whenever she has a big bit, I sing the song to her. She will have a big grin and chew slowly. Well done, baby girl!

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