Dad tip #121: Sometimes you have to stop yourself from helping your baby
Let's look at my son's first attempts at feeding himself Gerber Graduates banana puffs. The puffs are these star-shaped snacks designed to be finger-foods for babies. They pretty much disintegrate when salivated upon but only become sticky when lightly moistened. With less than stellar motor coordination and a tendency to drool in the presence of food -- or in the presence of pretty much anything, for that matter -- his early attempts at eating the treats resulted in sticky puffs stuck to the highchair, the floor, and my son's hands and cheeks. In fact, the puffs seemed to be pretty much everywhere but in my son's mouth.
After a few moments, the urge to help him overwhelmed us and we fed him a couple of puffs. He was hungry! But, we also quickly realized that he wasn't going to get any better at it if we didn't let him figure it out for himself. Now, he can put those suckers down right- or left-handed while contemplating quantum physics or thinking about the potential of CERN's newly functional Large Hadron Collider.
It's pretty much the same thing when it comes to eating with a spoon. However, that just takes more coordination, more patience, and more paper towels to clean up the mess. We're still working on that one.
Anyway, keep this advice in mind because it seems to apply to just about everything right now.