I was lucky to be able to see a copy of this wonderful new book from Diane Bahr, one of the most knowledgable and gracious speech pathologists that I am privileged to know. This book provides a clear, easy-to-understand guide of oral sensory-motor skill development for successful feeding. Written for parents and professionals, it is easy to navigate and provides many useful check lists and quick guides. I highly recommend this!
From Chapter 4: Good Spoon-Feeding, Cup-Drinking, Straw-Drinking, and Chewing Practices, and What to Do If Problems Arise.
How to Properly Spoon-Feed Your Baby, page 98
Up to this point, your baby has hopefully used a coordinated suck, swallow, and breathe pattern to manage formula or breast milk. Taking food from a spoon is very different than taking liquid from the bottle or breast.
Many parents begin spoon-feeding with baby cereal. For successful early spoon-feeding you can:
• Begin by mixing baby cereal with water, formula, or breast milk, so it is not too thick, sticky, or runny—just right.
- Help your baby become accustomed to the taste and texture of the cereal by dipping your clean or gloved finger into the cereal and giving her tastes from your finger. Or, let your baby dip her finger(s) into the food and place them into her mouth.
- Help your baby become accustomed to the spoon by letting her hold and mouth the spoon with your assistance. Hands and mouths are meant to work together. There are baby dipper spoons she can hold and dip into foods, such as the Num Num or ChooMee dipper spoons.
• Begin spoon-feeding by dipping the spoon into the cereal mixture and letting your baby taste the cereal from the tip of the spoon, rather than placing a typical amount of food on the spoon at first.
- When you place more food on the spoon, your baby’s tongue protrusion reflex(likely part of the suckling reflex) may push some of the food out. Don’t worry about this. It will take you and your baby a little time to learn the new habit of spoon-feeding. Eventually, the front of your baby’s tongue may grasp the spoon like the breast and guide the spoon into the mouth.
Here are some characteristics of good spoon-feeding:
- Use a small, flat-bowled spoon that fits your baby’s lip area comfortably (the small Maroon Spoon works well for this).
- Place a small and/or reasonable amount of food on the spoon.
- Place the spoon into her mouth only far enough, so the food will be removed as her jaw and lips close.
- Do not use your baby’s upper lip or gum to scrape food off of the spoon. If you find yourself do- ing this, slow down. Food should be removed by jaw and lip closure, so there is no need for the spoon to be tipped upward.
- Be sure the spoon fits your baby’s mouth. Regular, adult-sized spoons are too large. The bowls of those spoons are too deep for your baby’s mouth. There are many small spoons with relatively flat bowls available.
- My favorite spoon is the small Maroon Spoon. It has a small flat bowl, allowing the baby to close the jaw and remove the food with his or her lips. It is also widely used all over the world with children who have special feeding concerns. However, don’t let this deter you from using the small Maroon Spoon. It’s a wonderful, easy-to-use spoon.