Fork & Spoon?
For a child, the utensil of choice is his or her fingers! Having said that, don’t underestimate your child’s curiosity and ability to learn new things as well as his desire to eat just like you.
For starters, when your child is around 8 months old:
- Get a fun looking plastic (hard or rubberized) fork and spoon for children and place it at the meal table.
- Set non-breakable plates (with curved up sides), bowls and cups for your little person.
- Your child will still eat with his or her fingers but will experiment with the fork and spoon.
- Remember, your child is going to make a big mess so do prepare for it by laying old newspaper surrounding his or her eating area.
- Prepare food that has a starchy texture like porridge. It will stick to the spoon and will help your child not feel so frustrated as most solid foods don’t pick up easy and usually fall off the spoon easily.
- Refrain from disposable and easily breakable plastic forks and spoons. They can be a choking hazard. Avoid metal forks and spoons as well as they can hurt soft gums.
There could be more food on the floor than in his or her mouth but that’s okay!
How to encourage your child?
- Try using two spoons. One for you and the other for your child. Let him or her watch you then try to follow your actions. Switch spoons if your child wants to.
- Start with easy to handle foods. Prepare foods with texture and size that can cling to a spoon easily to help reduce your child’s frustration during attempts.
- Use child-size utensils. Giving your child the right utensils help to make a difference in their grip, coordination and feeding. Plates with suction cups on the bottoms will help keep the plates in place.
- Avoid disposable spoons or forks. These are simply choking hazards waiting to happen.
Chewing and sucking – great ways of exploring the world!
Suckling and sucking seems to soothe and comfort your child. When put to bed, she will often chew on her pyjamas or hands or perform other actions to help her fall asleep more peacefully before turning to her thumb or blanket. Soon, these items will be your child’s comfort objects.
Over the months, these small habits become a way for your child to explore the world around her. Your child will start to experience textures, smells and tastes by putting objects into her mouth. This is what specialists call the “oral stage”.
Thumbs to satisfy that urge to suck
Your child will suck on her thumb whenever she feels the need. The advantage of the thumb is that your child will never lose it, nor will it fall out of her mouth at 3 o’clock in the morning and start a crisis that Mum and Dad will need to spend a ridiculous amount of time and umpteen lullabies to soothe. As your child starts to crawl and grab hold of everything, she will need both hands and will naturally stop sucking on her thumb.
Security blanket – a window to the world
In Malaysia, you might refer to it as the bantal busuk, or the pillow that’s kept for ages even when growing up. The blanket or pillow can be your child’s comfort object. Specialists refer to the security blanket as a “transitional object”. Around the 8th month, sometimes even a little earlier, your child’s sense of independence will start to develop and she will understand that her parents are not always there. This can be the moment when she finds a security blanket, a means of defence against anxiety. It will help ease the transition between dependence on parents and independence.
Teddy bears or scarves scented with Mum’s perfume are familiar objects around the home that she can use – it’s even better if they have her own smell. These objects will help console your child in emotional situations – absence from parents, starting at the nursery, visiting the doctor or when she is ill.
Unfortunately, your child may not always pick out the cleanest and most beautiful teddy bear from her collection for a comfort object, and may well choose a rag or “smelly” pillow. Once your child has her favourite item in her arms, she will feel stronger and confident of facing the day’s challenges.
Here’s where you’ll find everything you need to make the best of those first 1,000 days of parenthood… TOGETHER.
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