Finger feeding usually starts at around 6 months. Children use their whole hands to bring small pieces of food to their mouths. Soon they'll master the "pincer" grasp, using their thumbs and index fingers. Parents can give children soft, easy to grasp and easy to swallow foods at this stage, like cooked noodles, dry cereal and diced canned peaches, and they avoid choking hazards like grapes or hot dogs. These foods can get stuck in children's small airways.
Using a spoon
Soon after children learn to eat with their fingers they may show an interest in trying utensils, maybe at around 8 to 9 months. They may start grabbing or refusing to be fed by the spoon. Even though it can take several months to develop the skill themselves, letting them experiment with using a spoon builds confidence. Here are some tips parents can try during this transition time:
- Letting children experiment with dipping a spoon and trying to feed themselves, while preparing for the ensuing mess
- Letting children play with their own separate spoon during feeding
- Alternating bites: her spoon, your spoon
- Filling his spoon, but letting him do the feeding
Starting at 9 months, it may be appropriate to introduce easy to grasp and swallow dry cereals like Cheerios. Children are most interested in spoon-feeding when they're hungry, so sometimes it works best to try it at the beginning of the meal.