How to Teach Your Toddler to Use a Spoon

Introducing your toddler to self-feeding can be both exciting and challenging. One of the most important skills they need to learn is how to use a spoon. While it may seem like a simple task, it can take time and patience to master. Luckily, there are several strategies you can use to help your little one become a pro at using a spoon.

Before you begin teaching your toddler how to use a spoon, it’s important to make sure they are developmentally ready. Most experts recommend introducing utensils between 10 and 12 months, as your almost-toddler starts to show signs that they’re interested. However, every child develops at their own pace, so it’s important to pay attention to your child’s cues and abilities. Once you’re confident that your child is ready, it’s time to start teaching them the basics.

One of the best ways to teach your toddler how to use a spoon is by modeling the behavior yourself. Give your child a spoon and fork at each meal, and show them how to use them by eating food from your own plate with cutlery. Encourage them to have a try themselves, but don’t worry if they don’t get it right away. With practice and patience, your little one will soon be able to use a spoon like a pro.

Why Self-Feeding is Important for Toddlers

Toddlers are at a crucial stage of development where they are learning many new skills, including feeding themselves. Encouraging self-feeding is important for several reasons.

Development of Motor Skills

Self-feeding helps toddlers develop their fine motor skills, which are essential for many activities in life. Using utensils such as spoons and forks requires hand-eye coordination, precision, and control. These skills are important for writing, drawing, and other activities that require dexterity.

Independence and Feeding Skills

Self-feeding also helps toddlers develop independence and feeding skills. By allowing them to feed themselves, toddlers learn to make decisions about what they want to eat and how much. This helps them develop a sense of autonomy and self-confidence.

Introduction to Finger Foods

Self-feeding also introduces toddlers to finger foods, which are important for their development. Finger foods are small, soft, and easy to pick up, making them perfect for little hands. They help toddlers develop their pincer grasp, which is essential for many activities, including writing and drawing.

Importance of Pediatrician’s Advice

It is important to consult with a pediatrician about when to introduce utensils and finger foods to your toddler. Every child is different, and their readiness for self-feeding will vary. Your pediatrician can provide guidance on when to introduce utensils and finger foods, and how to do so safely.

Encouraging self-feeding is an important part of your toddler’s development. By providing utensils, finger foods, and guidance, you can help your toddler develop important motor skills, independence, and feeding skills. Consult with your pediatrician for advice on when and how to introduce utensils and finger foods to your child.

When to Introduce Toddler Utensils

Introducing utensils to your toddler is an exciting milestone, but it’s important to do it at the right time. Most experts recommend introducing utensils between 10 and 12 months, as your almost-toddler starts to show signs that they’re interested. However, there is no set time or age by which you should have introduced a spoon or fork to your toddler. Your child’s motor skills will determine the “right time,” as well as other factors including:

  • How interested your child is in eating independently
  • How long your child has been eating solid foods
  • When you first introduced finger foods to your child

A spoon should be first on your toddler’s tray, since it’s easier to use. She’ll have more success with a fork as her fine motor skills get a little sharper, starting around 15 months.

Before introducing a spoon, you can start with a pre-spoon, which is a spoon-shaped utensil that is easier for your toddler to hold. Pre-spoons are designed to help your child develop their fine motor skills and coordination. You can also try using a small, shallow bowl or plate to help your toddler scoop up food with their pre-spoon.

When your child is ready to use a regular spoon, look for utensils that are specifically designed for toddlers. These utensils are smaller and easier to hold than adult utensils, with shorter handles and wider bases. Some toddler utensils also have textured handles to help your child grip them more easily.

It’s important to be patient and supportive as your toddler learns to use utensils. Encourage them to try using a spoon or fork, but don’t force them if they’re not ready. Model proper utensil use by using utensils yourself and praising your child when they make progress. With time and practice, your toddler will become a pro at using utensils.

Preparing for Mealtime

Mealtime with a toddler can be a messy and challenging experience, especially when trying to teach them how to use a spoon. However, with the right preparation and tools, mealtime can be a fun and successful learning experience for both you and your toddler.

Choosing the Best Utensils for Your Toddler

When it comes to choosing utensils for your toddler, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure the utensils are the right size for your toddler’s hands. Toddler spoons are usually smaller than adult spoons, making them easier for little hands to grasp and maneuver. Look for spoons with soft, rounded edges to prevent any accidental injuries.

Another important factor to consider is the material of the utensils. Plastic utensils are lightweight and easy to clean, making them a popular choice for parents. However, some parents prefer stainless steel utensils because they are more durable and can last longer. Ultimately, the choice is up to you and what you feel is best for your toddler.

Setting the Stage for Success

Before mealtime, it’s important to set the stage for success. This means creating a comfortable and distraction-free environment for your toddler to focus on learning how to use a spoon. Here are a few tips to help you prepare:

  • Use a high chair: A high chair can help keep your toddler in one place and prevent them from wandering off during mealtime. It also provides a comfortable and safe space for your toddler to eat.

  • Use a bib: A bib can help protect your toddler’s clothes from any spills or messes during mealtime. Look for bibs that are easy to clean and can be wiped down quickly.

  • Demonstrate how to use a spoon: Before giving your toddler a spoon, demonstrate how to use it by scooping up some food and bringing it to your mouth. This will help your toddler understand how to use the spoon and what they should be doing.

By choosing the right utensils and setting the stage for success, mealtime with your toddler can be a fun and successful learning experience. Remember to be patient and encouraging, and your toddler will be using a spoon like a pro in no time!

Teaching Your Toddler to Use a Spoon

As your toddler grows, they will need to learn how to use utensils to feed themselves. One of the most important utensils for them to learn how to use is a spoon. Here are some tips to help you teach your toddler how to use a spoon.

Start with Purees and Soft Foods

When you first introduce a spoon to your toddler, start with purees and other soft foods. This will make it easier for them to scoop up the food and bring it to their mouth. Mashed potatoes, oatmeal, and pasta are all good options. You can also try giving them toast squares or soft fruit.

Encourage Self-Feed with Finger Foods

Encouraging your toddler to self-feed with finger foods can help them develop their motor skills and coordination. Finger foods like pasta shells and soft fruit can help them practice their pincer grasp and fine motor skills.

Practice with Yogurt and Pudding

Yogurt and pudding are great foods for your toddler to practice using a spoon. They are thick enough to stick to the spoon, but not too thick that they are difficult to scoop up. Encourage your toddler to scoop up the yogurt or pudding and bring it to their mouth.

Introduce Forks and Other Utensils

Once your toddler has mastered using a spoon, you can start introducing other utensils like forks. Start with soft foods like pasta and work your way up to harder foods like meat. This will help your toddler develop their coordination and fine motor skills.

Teaching your toddler to use a spoon takes time and practice. Be patient and encourage them every step of the way. With a little bit of practice, your toddler will be able to feed themselves with a spoon in no time.

Tips for Spoon-Feeding Your Toddler

If you’re looking for tips on how to get your toddler to use a spoon, you’re in the right place. Here are a few things you can do to make spoon-feeding a more enjoyable experience for both you and your little one.

Be Patient and Encouraging

First and foremost, it’s important to be patient and encouraging when introducing a spoon to your toddler. Remember that learning to use utensils is a new skill that takes time and practice. It’s normal for your child to make a mess and struggle with the spoon at first, but with your support and guidance, they will get the hang of it.

To help your toddler feel more comfortable with the spoon, try these tips:

  • Start with small amounts of food on the spoon to make it easier to manage.
  • Use a spoon with a soft, rounded tip to prevent injury.
  • Offer praise and positive reinforcement when your child makes progress.

Make Mealtime Fun

Another way to encourage your toddler to use a spoon is to make mealtime fun. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Use colorful, child-friendly utensils to make eating more exciting.
  • Sing songs or play games to distract your child and make the experience more enjoyable.
  • Offer a variety of foods to keep things interesting and encourage exploration.

Remember, the goal is to make mealtime a positive experience for your child. By keeping things fun and engaging, you can help your toddler develop a healthy relationship with food.

Consult with Your Pediatrician

Finally, if you have concerns about your child’s spoon-feeding progress, don’t hesitate to consult with your pediatrician. They can offer guidance and support to help you and your child navigate this important developmental milestone.

In addition, your pediatrician can provide advice on when to introduce baby food and what types of foods are appropriate for your child’s age and development.

By following these tips and working closely with your pediatrician, you can help your toddler develop the skills they need to become confident, independent eaters.

Dealing with Picky Eating

Introducing a spoon to your toddler can be a challenging task, especially if they are a picky eater. Picky eating is a common issue among toddlers and can make mealtime stressful for both parents and children. Here are some tips to help deal with picky eating and make introducing a spoon easier:

  • Offer a variety of foods: Offer your child a variety of healthy foods at each meal. Include foods with different colors, textures, and tastes. This will help your child develop a taste for different foods and reduce picky eating habits.

  • Make mealtimes fun: Make mealtimes fun by involving your child in meal preparation and presentation. Let them help you choose what to cook and how to present it. This can make them more interested in trying new foods.

  • Be patient: It can take up to 15-20 tries for a child to accept a new food, so be patient and keep offering new foods. Don’t force your child to eat anything they don’t want to, but encourage them to try new foods.

  • Set a good example: Children learn by example, so set a good example by eating healthy foods yourself. Eat meals together as a family and make mealtimes a positive experience.

  • Offer finger foods: Offer finger foods that your child can pick up and eat with their hands. This will help them develop their fine motor skills and make it easier to introduce a spoon later on.

  • Make it a game: Make mealtime a game by using a fun plate or utensils. You can also try making a game out of trying new foods by giving your child a sticker or reward for trying something new.

By following these tips, you can help your picky eater develop a taste for new foods and make introducing a spoon easier. Remember, be patient and don’t force your child to eat anything they don’t want to. With time and patience, your child will develop healthy eating habits.


Teaching your toddler to use a spoon is an important milestone in their development. It can be a messy and frustrating process, but with patience and persistence, your child will learn to use utensils with ease. Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Introduce a spoon when your child is ready, usually between 10-12 months old.
  • Start with a spoon before introducing a fork.
  • Model proper spoon usage for your child.
  • Allow your child to practice with utensils during mealtime.
  • Praise your child for their efforts and progress.

Remember that every child develops at their own pace, so don’t worry if your child takes longer to learn how to use utensils. With consistent practice and encouragement, they will get there eventually. And don’t forget to enjoy the process – watching your child learn and grow is a precious experience.

About the author
Henry is a father of 2 boys, musician and expert on all things parenting-related. As a dad, he's experienced the joys and challenges of raising children first-hand, and he's passionate about sharing his insights to help others.