Parenting Resources

Building Independence in Infants

Although infants obviously need their parents to provide for their physical and emotional needs, even these young children can learn how to help take care of themselves and do simple tasks.  

One of the first things that older infants and toddlers can do to demonstrate independence is feed themselves, and it is important for their development that they be allowed to do so.  


For infants at least 8 months of age, consider:

  • Allow your infant to try using a cup. Experimenting with a cup of water while in the bath-tub will allow your infant to practice without making a mess.

  • Allow your infant to feed himself soft finger food – making sure you avoid choking hazards. View the NPC handout Time for Fun and Food for more information on feeding infants. 

  • When dressing your infant, allow extra time so she can show you she can help put her arms in the sleeves or legs in the pants.

  • Using sign language so your infant can express her needs to you even before she can articulate words

  • Realize that infants are beginning to understand much of what you say – and can begin to understand the concept of “no”. View the discipline section of the NPC handout 9 Month Olds for more information on dealing with "no".