5 Tips to Create an Adventurous Eater Through Baby Self-Feeding

06/21/2016 at 09:00 AM ET

While it may seem like babies have been eating purees for centuries, jarred food wasn’t even an option until the 1940s. In fact, the way people feed their babies tends to change every decade or two based on new research and social norms.

Baby self-feeding is a research-based approach to first feedings, and delivers a simple way for parents to help their children develop a healthy relationship with food from day one.

Nancy Ripton, journalist and co-author of Baby Self-Feeding: Solid Food Solutions to Create Lifelong, Healthy Eating Habits, is sharing her top five tips for getting started with baby self-feeding.

Baby Self-Feeding Tips 2
Courtesy of Fair Winds Press, an imprint of Quarto

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Don’t Rush Solid Foods

It’s rare that a baby needs any solid food prior to the age of 6 months. Feeding solids too early increases the risk of choking, and makes purees the only safe food option.

Be Mindful with Your Purees

Purees have a place as a first food, but they shouldn’t be all your baby eats. Purees are great for the first few weeks, to teach valuable swallowing techniques. After that, use them only occasionally, and let whole foods take center stage.

Choose Your Spoon Wisely

There are different sizes and shapes of spoons for a reason. Learn which spoon to use at which stage of feeding, and your child will transition to self-feeding with ease.

Baby Self-Feeding Tips 2
Courtesy of Fair Winds Press, an imprint of Quarto

Embrace the Mess

Children are tactile learners. Although it may not always be convenient, whenever possible, let your child get messy. If you try to control the feeding situation too much, your child may develop bad habits and negative food associations. It can look like your baby is playing with her food, but that’s how children learn about new tastes and textures. A little mess now can prevent picky eating later.

Don’t Force Anything

Every child is unique. It’s your job to make mealtime fun and enjoyable, and offer an array of healthy foods each time your child sits at the table. Don’t get upset if your baby turns up her nose at certain things. She may not like every food the first time, but if you only offer the foods she likes or force ones she doesn’t, it can lead to picky eating. Relax, model how fun it is to eat a variety of foods — and your child will follow your lead.

— Nancy Ripton

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Anonymous on

Why do parents need books for everything suddenly? What parents have time to read a book on every parenting subject? Free advice for new parents from a mom of 4. Don’t shelter your baby, they are learning every moment of every day. You are teaching the how to behave by your own behavior and your corrections (gentle) of their own. Bring your baby places your family frequents so they can learn proper behavior for those places. Feed your baby what you are eating, use common sense. If it is something they could choke on, cut it up; too hard for a baby with no teeth, wait. Never leave a baby unattended with anything (food or not) that could block their windpipe. Don’t stress about life with your child, be relaxed and know that you can do this and a happy mom creates happy kids. The end.

Melanie Potock on

Writing Baby Self Feeding with Nancy Ripton was a terrific experience! As a pediatric feeding therapist, it’s wonderful to know an journalist like Nancy who makes sure that her work is researched based and parent friendly. Thank you People.com for sharing our tips here and for supporting parents who want their kids to become adventurous eaters from the very start!

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