Between 12 and 18 months, your baby will start to show an interest in looking after themselves and wanting to feed themselves with a spoon or fork. You will already have been feeding them with a spoon since weaning, and they will have observed adults feeding themselves with cutlery, so it is a logical step for them to try feeding themselves with a spoon. Another clue that the time is right is if your baby is feeding themselves with their hands.
At first, this is going to be messy! You can buy large easy clean mats to place on the floor under high chairs and this might be a sensible idea if they are eating in a carpeted area.
Feeding yourself with a spoon introduces all sorts of challenges; picking food off the plate with the utensil, keeping the plate still while scooping, rather than chasing it around their tray, learning where their mouth is and how long the spoon is! All of this requires learning. It will come relatively quickly, but offer encouragement and more than a little help. This is an important milestone for your baby and is an early step towards a life of independence.
During winter, many of our birds really suffer in the cold weather and many perish as temperatures drop. We may take our birds for granted, but we would miss them if they weren't around. Run a diary project during the cold weather with your little ones. Chart what birds you see them and when, and put our food for them to attract them nea your home and to help them through the winter.
Nut feeders: there are all sorts of specialist nut feeders available from garden centres and pet shops to attract and feed different species of bird. You can simply hang a cheap nut feeder from a drainpipe or window and they will still come. If the weather is bad, they will become bolder in order to get to the food!
Bird tables: place the food on the table in a good, open position, near to trees in case a predator comes or cover is needed, but away from the fence that a cat might use as a springboard to get to the table! Make sure you can observe it from your window so that you and your children can enjoy watching the birds come and go.
Keep bird tables and feeders well stocked: if you decide to start helping the birds by providing food, try to keep it up throughout the winter so they can rely on your home to provide them with food throughout the winter rather than just for the first few days! Have your children help you put out food each day.
Water: A bowl of water (rather than ice!) is useful as during the icy months usual sources of water to drink become icy and frozen solid - rendering them useless. Bird baths are also essential for birds to clean their wings and rid themselves of any muddy debris that may have come attached. When their wings are not washes properly, they have trouble flying. Float a small plastic ball in the water to try to help it from freezing over. If it does freeze, break the ice and replace it with fresh water.
Spot any bird tracks (or any other animals for that matter!) in the snow and get the children outside (wrapped up warm!) to look at their environment.
Encourage your children to get involved in whatever way they can. Looking after nature is important and looking after our birds is easy and rewarding when you see them enjoying your food and flying around the wintery garden.
Babies should be introduced to finger foods aged between 6 and 9 months - eating with fingers helps improve hand-eye coordination as well as encouraging biting and chewing.
Here are some ideas for finger foods:-
When is the right time to introduce finger foods?
Babies develop at different rates - and quite a few skills have to be acquired in order to feed oneself! Babies need to be able to grip food between their thumb and finger; they must be able to chew or at least suck on solid foods; they must be able to lift food accurately into their mouths. It's wasy for us grown-ups to underestimate just how complex an operation feeding is, but giving babies finger food will help them to improve the required skills.
Without any encouragement, babies will begin to pick up food and try feeding themselves at around 8 months, some may start sooner and you can certainly try to encourage them sooner. Even without teeth babies are able to chew with their gums, but more often than not they'll just begin by sucking on food which starts breaking it down pretty quickly!
Start with foods that 'melt' in the mouth more easily or are very soft, and work up to more textured foods later.
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