Saturday, January 15, 2011

Self Feeding

Zoya has been working so hard on feeding herself! When she first came home she didn't even understand how to pick up a cheerio and put it in her mouth. These days she is feeding herself 100% of her meals using both a fork and spoon! We are working on an open cup, which has been very difficult for Zoya, but she has recently shown great improvement in that area too....although we still have a long ways to go until she can independently drink thinner liquids from an open cup (I will do a separate post on that and if anyone has any tips I'd love to hear them!).

After Zoya got the hang of feeding herself using her hands, we moved onto the fork. We have been working on using a fork for about 4-5 months and she's finally got it!  This was so difficult for Zoya as she had little finger/hand strength and had no idea how to hold the fork. We did a lot of hand over hand to begin with so she would get the idea of what to do. For a while we also put the food on the fork for her and just worked on her getting it to her mouth, which was a skill in itself.  One tip from our OT was to have her grasp further down on the fork so she had more strength, rather than holding on closer to the end of the handle of the fork. To do this, we would hand her the fork while we held onto the end so she only had one place to put her hand--toward the bottom of the fork handle. She would try to stab the food, but in the beginning, often needed guidance of where to put the fork to stab the food so we would guide her hand. Some beginning fork foods that worked well for us were cut up burgers (I made them more compact so they wouldn't break apart easily), soft cheese, bananas, and apples.  One thing that worked well in the beginning was to put a bunch of pieces (of whatever food we were using) into a very small round bowl--almost like a tiny food prep bowl. This way the pieces kind of stacked on top of each other, rather than being spread out on a plate. This made it easy for her to be successful just by sticking her fork into the bowl. When we did this she slowly began to feed herself, working up to about 50% of her meal. When she got toward the pieces in the bottom, she needed more help as it wasn't as easy to just stick her fork in and get a piece by chance. As her finger and hand strength increased, and as she got more practice, using a fork became much easier for her and over the past month she has been able to successfully feed herself an entire meal using a fork! We have recently moved to using plates more than bowls because she can do that now!  It was often tempting to just do it for her as I could see her get so frustrated sometimes (and sometimes I just did because it hurt my heart to see her try so hard and fail), but I got better at letting her keep on trying without me butting in and doing it for her. That made a big difference. She was determined to do it herself so I just needed to follow her plan!

The spoon wasn't as easy so we decided to try this after working with the fork for a month or two. We started with really sticky and thick foods like pudding, rice, mashed potatoes, etc. This was REALLY messy in the beginning but after a lot of practice she got it! When we worked on the spoon, we used the words, "scoop" as opposed to "poke," which we used for the fork. These verbal cues seemed to help her remember what she was supposed to do. For a while she would get mixed up and try to poke foods when we gave her a spoon, now she seems to know the difference. Today was the first day I gave her two foods that each needed a different utensil to eat. I gave her a cut up turkey burger (fork) and some Asian rice with veggies (spoon). I used a plate that had two food sections and put each utensil with each food. She did REALLY WELL going back and forth between the two and I was so proud of my little bug! This was the first time she had this type of rice and she devoured it!

Another thing that has been great is the red Dycem placemat that you see in the pictures. When Zoya was in the highchair, she was better about putting her drink back down because there was a smaller surface areas (her tray vs. the entire table) and her high chair try had a "hole" for the cup to sit down in. When we moved to the table she was constantly sliding her cup across and pushing it out of her own reach just because it slid easily on the table. She also would push her bowl or plate because it would slide too and I guess she just thought it was fun. Since having this nice mat (you can read about the "sticky" material if you click on the above link) she isn't trying to move her dishes around or push them out of reach which was annoying and messy. I am thinking of taking a Sharpie and drawing a dark circle on the mat so she has a visual reminder of where her cup goes. These mats clean easily with soap and warm water :)
Here are some pictures!

She loves her Elmo plate (which also came with Elmo spoon and fork, but I really like these Gerber ones better....they have nice fat handles! Not to mention when I give Zoya the Elmo fork and spoon she just plays with it and talks to Elmo--a little distracted ha).

Notice her rice is completely gone!

What do you mean no more rice for me? This is so unfair!

*If you noticed her Jersey, she is preparing for the big game today...more cute Steeler Baby pictures to come!


  1. Woohoo Go Steelers!

    Zoya what a great job you're doing. I can't wait to share this post with Izzy. We're still working on the veggies, meats she does not like. She can be so picky.

    Love the Elmo plate!

  2. I loved this post! Go zoya!!!

  3. That is so cool that she is doing so well:) She is so adorable!

  4. My three year old would not even touch Asian rice. You are the bomb, Zoya and Sarah, you are such a wonderful mom.

    Love finds a way,