Early Feeding Skills to implement early on.
Tip 1: Scraping. When feeding your child with a spoon, try not to scrape the food from the spoon with your child’s lips. By keeping the spoon stationary and at the level right above their bottom lip, you are allowing your child to learn how to use their lips to clear the spoon on their own. This will help them strengthen those lip muscles for other feeding skills such as drinking from an open cup and using a straw.
Spoon feeding should look like this:
This is what spoon feeding should NOT look like:
Tip 2: Presenting the Spoon. Don’t put the entire bowl of the spoon in your child’s mouth. As adults, we don’t put the whole spoon into our own mouths because it is uncomfortable! It’s the same for our little ones, and we definitely do not want them gagging on their spoons or developing a negative experience around utensils. If the handle of the spoon is in your child’s mouth, it’s too much. Pro-tip: Let your little one try feeding themselves! Yes, it might be messy, but messy eating helps our children get used to a variety of textures, temperatures, and tastes.
Tip 3: Skip the Sippy! Why should we skip the sippy cup all together? Simply said, sippy cups can hinder feeding, speech, and dental development. The way that a sippy cup is designed mimics the same structure of a bottle and requires a suckle pattern that does not promote later feeding skills. For example, it may delay proper chewing and speech sound development. Small open cups and cups with straws are a great option in place of a sippy cup. Think your little one is too little to be drinking from a cup or a straw? Think again! At 6 months of age, babies begin to have the basic skills needed to drink from a cup and at 9 months of age, they have the skills to begin drinking from a straw. We demonstrate some tips and tricks for transitioning to straw drinking in our YouTube video “Therapy Tip of the Week – Using a Straw to Drink”
If you have any concerns about your child’s inability to eat a variety of foods or are feeling increasingly stressed about mealtimes please call our Surprise or Peoria office to schedule an evaluation with one of our wonderful Speech Language Pathologists/Feeding Therapists!
Kassandra Hoyt, M.S., CF-SLP