Self-feeding is a significant developmental milestone for your baby. What can you do to encourage it and help your baby master this skill?

Watching Baby grow is one of the most joyful experiences a parent can have. Every new skill your little one picks up heralds a new beginning, another step towards independence. And as you watch her mature day by day from a curious crawler learning to self-feed to a bubbly toddler exploring different tastes and textures, you’re growing too, as a parent.

Why Self-feeding Skills are Important for Baby

From birth, Baby goes though many milestones. Each is significant but self-feeding is especially so. Once baby starts to self-feed she is open to a whole new sensory world! Each motion towards putting her food into her mouth and chewing it is an act of discovery. She sees the food on the plate, reaches out her arm, grabs it with her fingers, brings it to her mouth, puts it in, chews, and finally, swallows. It may take less than a minute, but as she does all this, she heightens her senses of touch, taste, smell and sight.

Self-feeding also helps Baby in these ways:

• Develop Fine Motor Skills
First, there’s grabbing and scooping with the whole hand. Then, as Baby learns to control her movements, she discovers other ways to move food from plate to mouth. Eventually she is able to use her thumb and pointer finger to pick things out. This is the pincer grip.

• Improve Coordination
Moving things from hand to mouth is not as easy for a baby as it is for you. It’s funny – and a great moment to photograph! – when Baby misses her mouth and food is smeared all over her face. With more self-feeding practice Baby soon develops better eye-hand coordination and finger dexterity.

• Learn to Eat Independently
You’ll notice that even at their tender age, babies crave independence. They want to do things themselves, their way. Self-feeding is one of the first milestones through which they achieve this sense of autonomy. Celebrate, mum; this means you’ll finally get to eat without (much) interruption!

Self-Feeding Snacks that Babies Love

Images: Cheesie

So Baby is ready to self-feed but you’re not sure what to offer her? Mummy blogger Cheesie (see her blog here) winner of the Top Parenting Influencer Award 2017, is a fan of Nestlé Gerber® Graduates® Cinnamon Graham Animal Crackers and Nestlé Gerber® Graduates® Arrowroot Cookies. These baked goodies, she says, are the perfect “First Cookies” for your child.

Cheesie serves them to her two adorable “cheesiepetits” – Junya and Sakura – during their snack-time at 10am, between breakfast and lunch. She lets her children snack as much as they want as long as they have finished a proper meal. “It’s also a good plan to load them up with extra calories that they really need and to fill any nutritional gaps,” shares the mummy blogger, who has appeared on Japanese national television.

What we love about Nestlé Gerber® Graduates®’ New Bakery Snacks

Nestlé Gerber® New Bakery Snacks do not contain any artificial flavours, colours or artificial sweeteners. What’s more, they are specially sized so the littles ones can learn to hold them and chew. The Nestlé Gerber® Bakery Snacks also come in re-sealable pouches that will keep the goodies fresh for the next consumption occasion.

Nestlé Gerber® New Bakery Snacks come in two delicious flavours that kids love:

• Nestlé Gerber® Graduates® Cinnamon Graham Animal Crackers
These delightful animal-shaped designs will put a smile on every child’s face! Made with 29% of whole grains per 100g, fortified with Vitamin E, Zinc and Iron, and flavoured with a dash of cinnamon, they are an ideal choice for a wholesome snack. Nestlé Gerber® Graduates® Cinnamon Graham Animal Crackers are recommended for children from 12 months old, or children who are accustomed to chewing solid foods.

• Nestlé Gerber® Graduates® Arrowroot Cookies
With a mixture of enriched wheat flour and arrowroot flour, these cookies have a unique texture. They’re crisp on the first munch, yet soften and mash quickly for easy chewing and swallowing. Also fortified with Vitamin E and Zinc (essential for Baby’s growth and development), Nestlé Gerber® Graduates® Arrowroot Cookies are recommended for children from 10 months, or children who are accustomed to chewing solid foods.

Nestlé Gerber® Graduates® Cinnamon Graham Animal Crackers ($8.90) and Nestlé Gerber® Graduates® Arrowroot Cookies r($7.90) are available at supermarkets and leading baby stores islandwide. For more information on Nestlé Gerber® and its full range of baby food products, visit www.starthealthy.nestle.com.sg and www.facebook.com/Nestleshshsg

This sponsored article is brought to you in collaboration with Nestlé Gerber®.