How to Foster Independent Eating…With Spoons!

Baby Levi holds a spoon and grabs at some oatmeal

If you aren’t ready for finger foods but want to lean in toward independent eating, this approach to spoon feeding is a terrific place to start.

Meet baby Lora, 6 months, in Umag, Croatia.

Lora, 6 months old, eats puréed cauliflower from a pre-loaded spoon in her mother’s lap.

There are 3 notable things happening here:

  1. Mom is holding Lora in her lap, back to belly. This is a terrific position for spoon-feeding and for fostering independence. I love this position because it puts the focus on the food while minimizing parent pressure (baby can’t see a parent’s facial reactions) and it physically puts the baby in the position to explore. 
  2. Mom is pre-loading the spoon but pausing to give Lora enough time to reach out and grab it. The spoon is close enough that Lora knows she’s going to get to eat either way, but not fast enough to cut off the opportunity for Lora to try to do it herself. 
  3. Lora is able to hang on to the spoon for a while after to explore and teethe on, which is fantastic for oral and fine motor development.

Okay and one more: Lora is getting to see—up close—how her mom scoops the food—but from an angle that Lora is going to learn best from. Notice too, that Lora is allowed to hold her own bowl.

100 years ago no one asked “how” you were going to start solids. First foods, sure, but how? No. 

And even as baby-led weaning advocates, we don’t think a spoon-feeding vs. baby-led weaning dichotomy is good for society. (And especially the judgement that comes from some baby-led weaning circles about what is and isn’t blw…)

So if your baby is approaching 6 months and getting ready to start solids, know you don’t have to pick a method. You can, like this mama—who probably knows nothing about how perfect her position is for feeding therapy—just follow your intuition.

Return to Blog