How to Teach a Baby to Eat With a Spoon
Babies start developing the hand-eye coordination they need to feed themselves with a spoon when they’re between 8 and 11 months old. If your baby tries to grab your spoon or imitates you while you’re eating, she’s ready to tackle this new skill. She probably won’t master it until after her first birthday, so be prepared to provide plenty of help and encouragement. Use spoons made specifically for babies since these are smaller and easier for her to grip.
Prepare foods that are easy for your baby to eat with a spoon, such as infant cereal or mashed bananas. If you use jarred baby foods, mix a small amount of cereal into the food to keep it from dripping off the spoon.
Give your baby an empty spoon and hold one in your hand. Bring the spoon to your mouth to show her how to use it. Let her practice with her spoon a few times or give her your spoon if she reaches out for it.
Place the food in front of your toddler and let her dip her spoon into it. Help her scoop some onto the spoon if she’s having trouble or put some on the spoon you’re holding and switch spoons with her.
Praise her when she uses the spoon correctly and stay calm when she misses or drops food. Let her take the next spoonful and continue practicing for the rest of the meal. Make sure she’s getting enough to eat. If most of her food ends up on the tray or floor, feed her spoonfuls in between her attempts to feed herself.
Spread newspaper on the floor or put a mat down to catch any food that drops or spills.
To cut down on messes, only put small amounts of food in front of your baby instead of giving her an entire bowl of food.
Take the spoon away until the next meal if your baby starts to play with it instead of using it to eat.
Don’t use regular disposable spoons, which break easily and often have sharp edges.
- The New Baby Answer Book: From Birth to Kindergarten, Answers to the Top 150 Questions About Raising a Young Child; Robin Goldstein; 2009
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Learning to Use a Spoon
- What to Expect: The First Year; Heidi Murkoff; 2003