The Importance of Self-Feeding for Kids and Products that Make It Easier!

For most busy parents, just getting their older baby or toddler fed is challenge enough, never mind encouraging them to feed themselves. It’s messy and often time-consuming but self-feeding is a crucial skill. Here’s why and some products that can help your child to self-feed!

By Laura Richards

Products like the Haakaa Fresh Food Feeder and Teether help babies and toddlers self-feed.

It’s a struggle that many parents face. Fostering independence versus “just getting it done” whether it’s zipping up jackets, tying shoes, or folding towels. It’s just SO much easier when we do it ourselves, but we know we’re doing a disservice to our kids to keep things on time and tidy.

The same goes for eating. When children are babies, feeding is efficient because we basically do it for them through nursing or bottle feeding. Then kids move to solids like cereals or mashed bananas and we still find ourselves feeding them for a variety of reasons including time constraints, efficiency and yes, no spaghetti bombs to clean. But by doing it for them, we aren’t encouraging a crucial skill that is so important: self-feeding.

Readiness to Self-Feed

Kids are often ready to self-feed before we recognize it as parents. Some children are more resistant, but many are chomping at the bit (no pun intended!) to get started.

Corinne Petras, mom of a young girl and boy from the Seattle area shares that every kid is different. Her son exhibited cues desiring to self-feed when her daughter didn’t. She says, “We held off solids until our son was about 8 months which helped him gain more hand/eye coordination and awareness of putting things into his mouth. He was always very interested in what we were eating…and trying to eat it himself, which, looking back, was the first sign he might be a more independent eater than our daughter. When we began oatmeal, he wouldn’t want us to feed him at all — we ended up having two spoons going at the same time — one for us and one for him. He would dip his spoon into the bowl and aim for his mouth though 50% of the time the oatmeal would end up in his ear!”

Products to Encourage Self-Feeding

Sure, it was messy, but Corinne saw the value of her son learning this important skill. Some parents have kids who want no part of self-feeding which can be challenging. This is where having certain products to assist and entice the process is key. Corinne shares, “I began giving my son a self-feeder teether with soft foods inside to encourage independence and interest in healthy foods. I think this helped encourage his desire to self-feed. I love the silicone products from Haakaa — they’re imaginative and best yet, I can sterilize them. The Haakaa Fresh Food Teething Feeder is amazing! The grasp area is large enough to give kids room to hold it at many angles.”

The Haakaa Baby Food Dispensing Spoon is a great middle step between parent directed and self-feeding!

Another great product for parents to try is the Haakaa Baby Food Dispensing Spoon which is available at Your child can grasp the handle and help to feed while you transition from adult-directed to self-feeding as a first step.

Cheerios soaked in formula, breastmilk or regular milk for older babies is also a good first self-feeding option. Soft foods like noodles are also ideal for new self-feeders and the Haakaa Noodle Spoon (also available on the Target website) is perfect because the handle is angled and the spoon is flexible and soft on your child’s gums and new teeth.

The Haakaa Noodle Spoon has the perfect angle for little hands and is soft on the mouth, perfect for slurping noodles without help!

Corinne says, “I also loved the Milkies Milk-Saver. When my son decided to begin a nursing strike I was able to use it as a ‘cup’ so he could feel like he was feeding himself ‘mama milk’.”

Advice from a Parent

Corinne tells parents embarking on this journey to, “Go with the flow and find tools that help you support your baby’s sense of independence. While it did break my heart a bit that my son didn’t want me to feed him all the time, I saw his confidence grow quickly when he fed himself. It was huge!”

When the going gets tough, remember that self-feeding is a big confidence builder and milestone of accomplishment for any child to proudly exhibit independence.

For a chart listing ages, stages and further information on self-feeding, please click HERE.

And for a listing of the full line of Haakaa products, visit their website at Haakaa