Q&A: 1 Year Old Not Self Feeding

CME WebsitesChild Development, Child Routines, Mealtime, Toddlers 12 - 36 Months

blockquote_bgMy one year old grandson was “tongue – tied” and this was surgically corrected when he was 8 months old. It wasn’t diagnosis as a newborn infant. He has shown no interest in self-feeding, but will accept/chew/swallow appropriate table foods if these are given to him. He has never put toys in his mouth to explore it. He does use a pacifier and briefly sucked his thumb. He was breast fed until 4 months of age. Will he eventually catch up with self-feeding or does he need intervention now?

It sounds like since your grandson is accepting, chewing and swallowing chopped table foods that are fed to him by an adult your main concern is just that he is not finger feeding himself independently yet? Finger feeding is a self-help skill, but it is also a fine motor skill and the ability to pick up small items of food requires a baby to have a well developed pincer grasp (ability to use his thumb and forefinger). You can encourage self feeding by cutting foods into long strips, like pieces of toast, or using dissolve crunchies like cheese curls so he can hold one end and munch on the other. Some babies have trouble picking up small bites of food because they are still using a more palmar type grasp and when they pick up the food it gets trapped in their hand on their palm and they can’t get it into their mouth properly to eat it.

To encourage a neat pincer grasp, use Cheerios or toddler puffs and place just one or two spread apart on his tray, or drop one Cheerio into each space in an empty egg carton so he has to reach in with his fingers to get each one out (make sure you hold the carton steady). Always give him a spoon to hold even when you are feeding him, and place sticky, thick foods like mashed potatoes or yogurt/pudding on the spoon for him so he can bring it to his mouth. You can also allow him to practice with a toddler fork, poking pieces of food or placing the pieces on the fork for him and allowing him to bring it to his mouth. Use hand over hand guidance with him as needed. You can practice these skills in the bath tub as well, giving him large spoons and a bucket to scoop up water and dump or in the sandbox too. You may also want to work toward improving oral motor skills by moving from the bottle to a cup and preferably a straw cup rather than a sippy cup. If by 14 months your grandson is still not showing interest in self feeding or has not developed a neat pincer grasp and is not able to pick up small items of food using his thumb and fingers, I would suggest contacting your local early intervention provider for a fine motor/feeding evaluation by an occupational therapist. Here is alink in your area.