Your toddler's journey to self-feeding will inevitably begin with their fingers - using their fingers to grab and pinch foods are some of the first feeding milestones they will reach. But at some point you may want to give them foods that are a little easier to eat with something other than their hands (or, at least, give them the option of using something other than their hands).
Before you Choose a Spoon
Although there are a lot of signs typically used to determine when it's time to introduce solid foods, there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to spoon feeding, it's important to evaluate where your little one is before you decide which spoon is right for her. A few questions you might consider:
- How interested in your child in feeding herself?
- How long has he been eating solid foods?
- Does she have practice with only purees or finger foods as well? (If you've been practicing baby-led weaning you might be well into this.)
Your answers to these questions can help guide your choice of spoon and will help you make the transition from fingers to utensils go a little more smoothly.
If you've been serving purees only and she's not showing a lot of interest in those, you might have more success holding off for a bit. You can try slowly introducing finger foods or start with a spoon that's designed specifically to practice dipping (the first skill your baby will need to master). This is not what Kizingo's original curved spoons are designed to do, but we recommend the numnum pre-spoon.
But if you've been serving finger foods from the get-go and your little guy is enjoying the process, it may be time to consider the added challenge of a utensil.
Tips for Dipping and Scooping
The dipping stage of spoon feeding will typically begin around 9 months - but can certainly happen earlier if your little one is allowed to practice regularly. Here are some dipping tips:
- Preload the spoon: Let baby watch you dip the food and hand them a preloaded spoon. Babies are naturally curious and will observe your actions. Eventually, they will want to mimic your motions as well!
- Use multiple spoons: Some babies may be more interested in simply holding a spoon, than dipping or eating. In this case, let them keep on spoon in their free hand while you continue to dip and serve pre-loaded spoons for them to eat. Eating this way can also help you avoid power struggles over who has spoon control!
- Practice: There is no right timeline for progression from dipping to scooping, and practice is the only path forward. After practice with a pre-loaded spoon, try dipping and leaving the spoon for baby to grab. Once your baby is able to dip, eat, and dip again, you have a successful self-feeder on your hands!
Scooping is a skill that usually begins a few months after baby starts dipping. Developmentally, this occurs anywhere between 11-18 months, but don't worry if it happens later and it may even occur sooner if baby has had lots of opportunity to practice. Here are some tips to help with successful scooping:
- Practice & Patience: When your babe is first practicing scooping, you can help guide their motion by practicing hand-over-hand. Gently place your hand over theirs, and make the scooping motion with them. Don't be surprised if they don't want to do this right away - this will take time and they may still want to favor their hands for eating. But this practice is all part of the learning!
- Expect Mess: It's still completely developmentally appropriate for your kiddo to be using their spoon for banging as much as eating between 10-12 months of age, and tipping the spoon as they bring it to their mouth at 15 months of age. Our original curved spoons will make it a little easier to actually get food into their mouths, but there will still be some mess!
Choosing a Spoon
Still not sure which spoon will be right for your little one's feeding journey? Don't worry, we've got you covered! Our Guide To Spoons has 5 simple questions that can help you determine which spoon might be best for your child's developmental stage (with links included for where to buy!).