Until now, feeding your baby was relatively simple!
After the first spoonfuls of purée eaten in the bouncer chair (at around 4 months), your baby will then move to his high chair (around 6-7 months) placed near the dining table.
Until this point, you are in control of the situation, and you still feed spoonfuls to baby.
Around 8 months, your baby will find it more fun to eat with his fingers…
It will be difficult at the start: baby will use his hand to wipe at his mouth (still full of food), or will gleefully "splash" in his plateful of purée! It’s also the moment he´ll choose to fling his bowl to the floor, or pull off his bib!
By encouraging him to be independent, you will help to develop his pleasure and agility; you will just need a good deal of tolerance!
You can help baby through this stage by encouraging him to eat with his fingers without making too much mess (make sure you have a good wipeable tablecloth, keep a sponge to hand at all times, and feel free to protect your clothes with a large apron). This will prevent pointless conflicts and will make sure that mealtimes are happy times. Cut up small pieces of cheese, fruit or meat and place them directly on the shelf of the high chair (if you want to be more hygienic, you can cover the shelf with cling film and change it every mealtime). This way, you stay in control of the bowl of purée, while baby is busy trying to pick up his little pieces of ham!
Around 10/12 months, your baby will find it a lot more fun to try and eat with his spoon…
And it is about now that you will realise it’s a long way from bowl to mouth! The contents of the spoon will pour out, slide, drip or spill far too often for your liking!
Let your child have one or two spoons (one for each hand) and leave him to it. Only intervene if you can see that he’s not going to manage on his own. While baby is concentrating on his actions, feed him with a third spoon. The meal won´t seem as long like this. During the learning period, give baby foods that "stick" to the spoon: mashed potato, rice pudding, fromage frais, thick fruit purées …
Make sure you use suitable equipment, such as an unbreakable plate with a sloping base so that baby can reach the food more easily; a spoon with an easy-hold handle so it can be gripped more easily; etc.
Don´t forget that mealtimes are an important part in baby´s social development. Baby wants to eat like a grown-up, surrounded by the rest of his family.
Also, it is essential to help baby become independent during this period, and above all to avoid turning mealtimes into conflict times, as all sorts of eating problems could result.