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Babies Shouldn't be Spoon-fed

Babies Shouldn't be Spoon-fed

My son insisted on feeding himself almost from the get go, lil did my husband and I know our tot was on to something. Former midwife and breastfeeding consultant, Gill Rapley, tells parents to encourage their children to eat by themselves. She is quick to point out the positive affects of doing so. A recent Guardian article said:

Not only, she says, will it help develop hand-eye coordination, allow babies to join in with family meals and make feeding battles less likely, but it's also the best way to ensure they grow up enjoying good food, and may protect them against eating disorders in later life.

If you're interested in learning the steps toward independent eating,


  • Start weaning at six months
  • Sit your baby upright for meals
  • Offer, rather than push, food
  • Eat with your child
  • Expect a mess
  • Don't get emotional
  • Don't cut food up too small
  • Treat mealtimes as playtimes
  • Don't give food to hungry babies
  • Watch your language

To learn more about the process, check out Rapley's book, Baby-led Weaning: Helping your baby to love good food.

Join The Conversation
jessyz jessyz 8 years
I tried everything with my daughter starting when she was 6 months and she wasn't interested. I know just put her in her high chair when we are having a meal and give her finger foods which she can hold and chew on as much as she likes. I find she actually does eat this way and it's so much less stressful. I also always try to give her a taste of whatever it is we are eating even if it's just a bite.
roxtarchic roxtarchic 8 years
schnappy... it sounds to me like you're doing things right.... he wants what he wants... our lil guy is a year... he's barely doing finger foods (puffs and crusts, altho to make a liar out of me last night he ate some PIECES of chicken at a restaurant we gave him, he even went MMMMMMMM lil bugger and pointed for more, meanwhile i've been trying for like TWO MONTHS now haha)... and he wants his puree VERY SMOOTH... w/meals we give him his sippy cup (w/water or watered down juice), and i show him how to hold it (he refuses to do it himself a lot of the time but i'll just leave it there or hand it to him & step away from him so he has to do it)... formula he gets in a bottle before his morning nap, his afternoon nap, and his bedtime... (he also gets formula in the cereal)... i think you have to follow his lead... otherwise it's a battle & how encouraging or nurturing is forcing em to eat or drink something (or some way) they dont want and arent ready for... our next hurdle is going to be introducing milk... i'm hoping he likes it... but who knows
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 8 years
""Suggesting beginning weaning at 6 months is terrible advice, especially from a midwife/breastfeeding consultant. "" i agree! (with poster, not author)
Moms Moms 8 years
Sorry — I should have included the explanation on that one! Here it is... Don't give food to hungry babies In the early weeks of eating finger food, says Rapley, "offering a hungry baby finger food is as irrelevant and frustrating as offering a hungry baby a toy". Instead, give them a milk feed first, then finger food so they'll be able to enjoy playing with the food, and experimenting with getting some of it into their mouth.
Greggie Greggie 8 years
I meant I don't think you're doing it wrong in general, not that you shouldn't be giving him finger foods. :)
schnappycat schnappycat 8 years
Well, my son actually will eat some finger foods, Greggie. It's mostly my paranoia that is holding back on larger pieces. So right now I'm alternating between a few finger foods that he can self-feed with and purees that I feed him. But I can't imagine not ever giving him purees to start with. And unfortunately, he's decided he doesn't want his formula even if starving (I offer first) and would rather eat puffs or yogurt or fruit. So I've been at wit's end the last few days trying to force a bottle on him. It's frustrating.
Greggie Greggie 8 years
I don't think it's wrong, schnappy. In two years, the advice will change to "always spoonfeed your child to avoid eating disorders." I think you just do what your instinct tells you to do. I personally wouldn't dream of letting my 9-month-old feed herself right now but I would've let my oldest at this age. They're all different. Plus, the whole "no puree" thing doesn't take into account what we were talking about in the other thread when it comes to textures. My 5-year-old would've spent his first six months on solids constantly gagging and throwing up if we hadn't been giving him puree. Also, going into the article, her "bulletpoints" are totally misleading. Like "don't give food to a hungry child." She means don't offer it first, give their breastmilk/formula first, but her bulletpoint is completely misleading. Honestly, her inability to express herself makes me doubt her research. (I mean the midwife, not lilsugar. This advice is not lil's, it's an article she's sharing.)
schnappycat schnappycat 8 years
I'm in the middle of this now. I'm trying to let my 10 month old son feed himself some, but he's so incompetent at it (holds the wrong end of the spoon and doesn't attempt to eat with it) and makes such a mess, I end up taking the spoon back. I know it's wrong, but it's just easier. Same with the sippy cup. He just has no skills yet. And now that he is eating some, he doesn't want his bottle anymore and I thought that most of his calories were still supposed to come from formula. So I'm confused. This whole feeding/eating process is driving me batty. And goodness, I'm afraid to give him large pieces of food for fear he'll choke. I think I'm doing it all wrong. :(
Ella-Pretty Ella-Pretty 8 years
Hmmm...I think the 'don't give food to hungry babies' means - don't wait until your baby is too hungry to start the feeding process....because usually by then they're screaming and throwing a fit - not a good time for them to be calm and feed themselves... But yeah - its not written that clearly LOL...what are you supposed to do - starve a hungry baby? I'm sure lilsugar will clarify it - her posts are usually the best :-)
Greggie Greggie 8 years
"What if you started to wean the baby at 6months but still pumped and gave the breastmilk to child?? Nothing wrong with that." That's not weaning, that's just going to a new form of feeding.
Greggie Greggie 8 years
I'm really hoping that what she means by "Don't give food to a hungry baby" is the recommendation that you should breastfeed/formulafeed first, then offer solids so that they don't fill up on solids. She also implies that you have to begin offering solids at or by six months, which isn't true either. Her wording leaves a lot to be desired.
kiwitwist kiwitwist 8 years
I am assuming they mean don't feed them when they are hungry, let them feed themselves when they are hungry. But I could be wrong. What if you started to wean the baby at 6months but still pumped and gave the breastmilk to child?? Nothing wrong with that.
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
I could never feed my son or daughter! they grabbed that spoon and never let go! Both of them did it at 6 months!
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
:don't give food to hungry babies" :rotfl: :rotfl: so once the kid is hungry, they will never eat again? nice tip.
Greggie Greggie 8 years
Suggesting beginning weaning at 6 months is terrible advice, especially from a midwife/breastfeeding consultant. Breastmilk or formula should make up the majority of a child's diet for the entire first year, solids are for experimentation only. Don't cut up food too small and don't give food to a hungry baby? What the hell??
meandtheo meandtheo 8 years
oh me too...i actually am still nursing once a day...weaning now!
SugarKat SugarKat 8 years
Ok, I did all this EXCEPT weaned at 6 months. I breastfed for the first year. She ate by herself almost from the start.
meandtheo meandtheo 8 years
i basically followed all of these rules. but not because i knew what i was doing, apparently my daughter knew what she was doing. i followed her lead...she was done with baby food by 7 months and only wanted to eat foods she could pick up herself. now at almost 13 months she uses a spoon and fork correctly; although a lot of the time she will put the utensil down and use her hands, it is still easier for her.
roxtarchic roxtarchic 8 years
when our lil guy si getting ansy w/what he's eating... and/or distracted, i've always found that handing him the spoon & helping him to eat himself... is great.... but handing him the food AND the spoon and letting him have at it... i dont see that happening anytime soon, especially since he wont even slightly tolerate anything w/a chunk in it... at this point the only things he'll eat himself are pizza crusts, bread crusts and teddy puffs...
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