I was looking up some info on www.babycenter.com and ran across a page their advice on "When can my baby feed himself without me offering additional spoonfuls?" and was personally amused that according to their experts the age is 18 months:
From a baby-led perspective - I'd say that the age when baby can feed him/herself is immediately after starting solids! At 12 mo we do spoon feed DS foods like applesauce - but besides that he's happily self fed all by himself and doing just great."Children are great at self-monitoring, meaning they'll stop eating when they're full," says Rachel Brandeis, a registered dietician in Atlanta. "But they don't have the skills to get all the food you put before them into their mouth until around 18 months, or sometimes much later," she says.
As a parent hoping to instill healthy eating habits in your young child, the best thing you can do is to give him a combination of foods that he can feed himself, such as thin slices of mild cheese; cooked macaroni; cooked (until soft) chopped vegetables; moist, finely chopped pieces of meat; and soft, ripe pieces of fruit such as peaches or pears. Then offer him a few extra bites at the end of the meal to make sure he's had enough. But don't force these last bites. If he pushes the food away or turns his head, odds are he's had enough. Remember to cut foods into small pieces (cubes of food no larger than 1/4 inch) or thin slices that can be easily chewed.
I'm trying to figure out if I care enough to send an email to babycenter.com and let them know about baby led solids ...
... then again their website also says that baby can start learning table manners at 24 months .... and at almost 12 mo DS has pretty much learned to give food he doesn't want to mommy or daddy instead of throwing it on the floor