Baby's first spoon feeding

When to Introduce a Spoon to Baby – Ready. Set. Food!

Learning how to self-feed is an important milestone in your baby’s development. The messy, but fun, process of teaching your baby how to use a spoon will be the next step in your baby’s journey to self-feeding.

Teaching your baby how to self-feed is going to be a messy process, but will be worth it in the long run. Your baby's motor skills and development will benefit from learning how to self-feed so it is important to encourage this process to your baby. As you begin to approach the age where your baby is ready to start learning how to self-feed, here is everything you should consider.

Where To Start 

Finger Feeding

Before you start to think about introducing a spoon to your baby, you first will want to make sure your baby has been introduced to finger foods. This first step will help your baby begin to develop their motor skills which are necessary to have before figuring out how to use a spoon.

Beginning with finger foods, start with soft foods that you can easily smash with your fingers. This will be the safest and easiest place to start for your baby. Foods such as soft cooked noodles, cut bananas, or steamed veggies are all a good place to begin. Choosing foods that can be cut up into bigger chunks will also make it easier for your baby to be able to pick up.

If you have only been feeding your baby soft foods and purees on your own, you should wait to introduce a spoon until after you have introduced finger foods. At around 12 months, most babies should be feeding themselves finger foods. It is around this stage that you can start to introduce a spoon.

Next Step: Introducing the Spoon 

Now that your baby has gotten comfortable with finger feeding, you can take the next step on the self-feeding journey by introducing their first utensil, a spoon. The CDC recommends waiting to introduce a spoon to your baby until they are around 10-12 months old. However, there is no specific age or time that your baby should developmentally be using a spoon. There are many factors that can have an influence on the timing of your baby learning to use a spoon.

  • Fine motor skill development
  • Interest in eating independently
  • Time they have been eating solid foods
  • First introduced to finger foods

These are all factors that can influence when your baby starts to use a spoon to self-feed. Every child is unique so do not worry about whether or not your baby is successfully learning to use a spoon. They will get there eventually!

Signs They Might Be Ready

It can be tricky to know whether or not your baby is ready to take the next step in their development. One sign that your baby is likely ready to start using a spoon on their own is with their body language. Infants typically will turn their heads and clamp their mouth to signal they are full, after the meal. The opposite holds true as they get older. Toddlers will often start to get fussy or throw a tantrum before a meal. If you are noticing that they are appearing disinterested in the spoon you are trying to feed them, let themselves give it a try. This might be their way of telling you they are ready to be more independent. 

Learn more from Pediatrician Dr. David Hill from the American Academy of Pediatrics about when your baby is ready for solids: 

Expected Timeline

Depending on your baby, these milestones will be reached at different times than the families around you. However, here is a general guide to understanding when you should plan on your baby reaching these steps to independently self-feeding. 

  • 6 months: You can begin to start introducing finger foods to build your baby’s fine motor skills. Remember to choose foods that are soft and easy to squish to avoid any choking hazards. 
  • 12 months: Around their first birthday, your baby will likely begin showing an interest in using a spoon themselves. This is when you can begin letting your child feed themselves thick, soft foods like oatmeal, yogurt, or applesauce. 
  • 15-22 months: Your toddlers should be able to start getting the hang of feeding themselves with a spoon. Around this time, you should also be able to introduce using a fork to feed themselves.

Every baby is different when it comes to reaching these developmental milestones. You should never focus too much on whether or not your baby is “on track.” With both time and practice, your baby will get there.

What are the Benefits of Self-Feeding?

Self-feeding is your baby’s first step to independence. In addition to the new confidence and sense of freedom your baby is experiencing, self-feeding is beneficial to their overall development in the following ways.

  • Learning to grasp and hold things firmly
  • Gaining hand-eye coordination (learning spatial awareness, strengthening their “visual motor skills”)
  • Refining Sensory Process skills (the different textures and sensations of the food they are touching will help to build their sensory processing skills)

Things to Consider

Picking the Right Spoon

In general, any spoon that is not too heavy for your baby to hold is the right spoon. However, it is probably a good idea to purchase a set of spoons that are actually designed to be used for babies. Look for spoons that have a wide, chubby handle that will make it easy for your baby to grab and pick up. A spoon made of rubber or silicone will also be better for your baby because of the soft texture and grippy material. 


Foods to Start With

Get ready for a big mess when it comes to your baby learning how to use a spoon. At first, your baby will likely spend more time exploring and playing with their food, rather than actually eating it. Start with thick foods that will easily stay on the spoon as they learn how to balance and bring the spoon to their mouth. Here are some recommended foods to start with.

  • Applesauce
  • Cottage cheese
  • Mashed peas/carrots
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Pasta
  • Pudding
  • Yogurt 

Introducing the Fork 

So, your baby has now mastered the spoon and is ready for their next big step: the fork. It is usually recommended to introduce the spoon before the fork, because a spoon is typically easier for a baby to learn at first. However, some babies do pick up on the fork easier because it requires less balancing and they can stab the food. You will likely want to introduce the fork at around 16-18 months, to give your baby time to first practice and focus on learning how to use a spoon. 

What’s Next?

With so many huge developmental milestones being achieved, your baby is rapidly developing. Once your baby has been introduced to the spoon and fork, you can consider moving them from the high chair to a booster seat at the table. By bringing your baby to the table to eat with you, you can help them develop their motor skills quicker. This gives them the opportunity to observe and mirror your actions.

How Can I Help the Process?

The best way you can help your baby is to simply let them experience and explore this new skill for themselves. At first, you'll probably notice that your baby spends more time playing and waving the spoon around. But eventually, they will start to pick up on how to actually use the tool for their self-feeding benefit. 

This is a messy, but fun, process. Look into some rubber or silicone splat mats to make the clean up aftermath easier for you. Other than letting your baby explore and have fun with the learning process, here are some things you can do to help your baby with practicing their new skill.

  • Demonstrate it for them: Your baby is looking to you for guidance, so show them how it is done! Have them watch you use a spoon to feed yourself the yogurt or oatmeal and then have them try it for themselves. Over time, they will continue to mirror your actions for how to self-feed.
  • Hand-Over-Hand Method: First, let your baby grab for the spoon themselves. Once they are holding the spoon, see if they can dip the spoon and scoop up the food. You can place your hand over their hand and help guide the food into their mouth. Your baby is still learning all the basics like where their mouth even is and how to scoop food using the spoon so you can help show them the ropes for the first few times. 
  • Stick to Thick Foods: To make it easier for your baby to scoop and bring the food into their mouth, stick to thick foods at first. Avoid foods that can easily fly off the spoon (rice, cereal, etc.) until they have gotten used to the process. 

Baby-Led Weaning: What is it? 

Baby-Led Weaning is a popular form of teaching self-feeding. The process skips feeding soft foods and purees and goes straight to finger foods starting at around 6 months. Registered dietician, Clancy Cash Harrison, author of Feeding Baby, says “Baby-led weaning supports the development of hand-eye coordination, chewing skills, dexterity, and healthy eating habits,” she says. “It also offers babies an opportunity to explore the taste, texture, aroma, and color of a variety of foods.”

What makes baby-led weaning successful, is that your baby will recognize that in order to eat, they need to learn how to do it themselves. It gives an extra nudge into independence. However, parents can obviously step in when needed, in order to make sure their baby is getting enough nutrition from food. 

Starting at about 6 months, or whenever your baby is able to sit unassisted in a high chair, you can begin baby-led weaning. Your baby might not have fully developed their chewing skills so breast milk or formula will still need to be their main source of nutrition until at least 10 months old. 

The best foods to begin with are soft, easy to squish foods like bananas, steamed broccoli, or avocado. Try cutting the foods into bigger pieces to make it easier for them to pick up. By starting at 6 months, you will help your baby develop the pincer grasp. When considering foods to start with, texture is key. Since your baby does not have the fully developed chewing skills, you will want to make sure any food you are giving them is very soft to avoid a choking hazard. 

If you are thinking of starting baby-led weaning, consider a mixed approach. The first few months of baby-led weaning might be more exploring, and less eating. Do not feel pressure to fully abandon breast milk, formula, or purees. Not all children will be ready for baby-led weaning and finger feeding at 6 months. Focus on making sure your baby is getting enough food, rather than trying to get them to self-feed. 

The most important thing to take away from both self-feeding and baby-led weaning is to let your baby lead the process. Let them be the one to reach for the spoon, show their curiosity, and explore their growing independence. Your baby will be most successful if you let them guide you in this process.  


All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  

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3 Tips on How to Spoon Feed Baby (purees or BLW)

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Home » Healthy Kids » 3 Tips on How To Spoon Feed Baby (plus – our favorite spoons for purees or BLW)

by Michele Olivier on May 13, 2020

Here are some easy tips on how to make feeding baby with a spoon easy and (slightly) less messy! Plus, we go over 4 spoons that we love for both baby food purees and baby-led weaning.

Easy Tips on How To Spoon Feed Baby

What’s the first spoon I should give my baby?

Whether you decide to start introducing solids using a more traditional approach with purees or via baby-led weaning, at some point or another, your baby will be exposed to foods that are eaten with a spoon. Keep the following tips and options in mind when introducing a spoon to baby:

  • 👀 Watch baby’s cues carefully. Place the spoon near your baby’s lips, let him smell, and give time for baby to open his mouth. If baby closes her mouth, turns away from the spoon, blocks it with her hands, or is otherwise uninterested, stop and try another day.
  • 💪 Avoid the power struggle! If your baby wants more control but has trouble getting food to his mouth (and what baby doesn’t?!) sit down to eat with a rotation of 2-3 spoons. Load and then re-load each spoon after a bite, letting baby hold at least one spoon at a time. In-between his attempts to self-feed, he might be more accepting of taking a turn from your spoon.
  • 🧠 Your baby learns through play! Let baby have some time to “play” with the spoon at the end of each meal by dipping it in a little puree and allowing her to teethe and explore it on her own for several minutes. The Olababy and Num Num are great options for this.
  • Munchkin White Hot Safety Spoons – the soft tips are gentle on baby’s gums.
  • Olababy Baby Feeding Spoon – soft silicone tip, plus it doubles as a teether.
  • NumNum Pre-Spoon Gootensils – holds thicker purees well for more successful self-feeding.
  • ezpz Tiny Spoon – the slight arc of the spoon can be used for dipping and scooping.

How did your baby do with their first spoon feedings?

Written by: Lauren Braaten OTR/L, Pediatric Occupational Therapist exclusively for Baby FoodE. Lauren has been supporting children and families with feeding challenges and sensory integration difficulties since 2011. She currently practices in the greater Denver, CO area. 

Learn More Here
  • How to Find the Best High Chair for Baby
  • Guide to Baby Food Stages
  • 10 Best First Foods for Baby (purees or baby-led weaning)

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Baby's first spoon | How to teach a child to eat with a spoon by himself

A spoon is an excellent exercise machine for developing fine motor skills. It's hard to eat with a spoon. You need to be able to hit the right end of the spoon first into the plate, then into the mouth, and even not drop the food. Most babies easily cope with this difficult task after a year. That is why in many books the chapter on introducing the spoon begins with the phrase: "Your child is already a year old, it's time to teach him to eat on his own. " Indeed, in a year a child will learn to use a spoon faster, but an earlier acquaintance with it will improve the coordination of the baby's hands. So why waste time?

Your baby will not be able to use a spoon before 7-8 months. First, the baby must learn to sit confidently so as not to stagger (do not swing, do not fall) from each wave of the hand. Secondly, it is more convenient to eat from a full plate, that is, a portion of complementary foods should be large enough.

The most convenient product for learning is a thick, viscous porridge. Such porridge can be brought to the mouth even with an inverted spoon. So, as soon as the baby gets used to eating 50-80 grams of porridge, give him a spoon in his hands.

The correct first spoon should be light, made of silicone or food-grade plastic, with a comfortable long handle. You can also use an ordinary tea spoon or a silver spoon donated "for the first tooth", but always with a rounded handle, without sharp corners. A silver spoon must be made of table silver and have an appropriate quality certificate. Keep in mind that some babies don't like the feel of cold metal in their mouths, so it's best to opt for a special baby spoon.

For the first attempts, it is better to choose a small narrow spoon, it fits well in a small mouth. Such a spoon can be bought at any children's store, but the product must be certified. At the same time, in the economic department, get a large piece of oilcloth.

So, put a plate of porridge and give the baby a spoon. It’s good if the baby has managed to get a little hungry by this moment. First, help your child develop the skill correctly. Grab your baby's hand with your hand and together bring the spoon to your mouth. Part of the porridge will definitely end up on the floor, mother and walls. This is fine. The child can get into the plate with both hands and lick the porridge from his hands, lean towards the plate and eat directly from it. Smart children fill the spoon with their free hand. Allow your child these experiments, in no case scold for carelessness! Now the baby is studying, do not interfere with him. After about five minutes, take the second spoon and feed your baby slowly. Each time, give the crumbs more and more time for independent food, so that in a few months he can eat a significant part of the portion himself.

When the child is used to using a spoon, seat him or her at a common table. Toddlers copy the movements of adults, their behavior at the table. So, on the example of the elders, the child will learn accuracy. At about two years old, a child will be able to eat his soup without spilling a drop. In the meantime, be patient.

Of course, it is faster and easier for an adult to feed a child. But if you postpone the process of accustoming to independence for a long time, the baby may refuse to pick up a spoon.

Why strain yourself, because mom or dad will help anyway!.. If this happens, and the child refuses to eat on his own, do not insist. Just be distracted more often by household chores, leaving a plate (the food in it should not be hot!) And a spoon in front of the baby. At some point, a hungry child will not stand it and will take a spoon in his hands. And, of course, it will smear everything around - this is an obligatory stage of development. But the main thing is that the baby develops and learns independence. And the kitchen can be washed later.

How to spoon feed? - Encyclopedia Baby food

Levchuk Victoria ©

An article for those who supplement with a spoon or how to feed with a spoon. We will not discuss whether it is useful to supplement / spoon feed a child, about the benefits of independence, etc. Let's talk about the right and wrong way to spoon feed. The wrong way is to raise your hand up when you take the spoon out of the child's mouth. This method cleans the spoon from food on the teeth, gums or upper lip.

Scraping is not a normal, natural way of feeding. This method of feeding prevents the lips from doing their job and shrinking around the spoon. In this case, the child's head leans back when he tries to lick the spoon and swallow food.

Most often we see well-intentioned parents putting a spoon in their child's mouth. The adult lifts the spoon and cleans the spoon most often on the baby's upper lip . This can be an effective way of getting food into the child's mouth, but the child does not practice using the muscles of the lips, cheeks, and jaw in a more controlled and mature manner.


Have him see and smell the food before putting it in his mouth. Let your child touch the food with their fingers before putting it in their mouth. He might want to dip his finger into the plate and lick it, okay. The first time feeding is necessary, the baby is exploring the world in this way.

2. Put the spoon on the tongue and hold it there until the child closes the lips.

3. Then take the spoon straight out of the mouth (not at an angle). The chin should remain straight and not rise up. The child must learn to eat food, and thoughtless swallowing does not teach anything. If the mother undertook to feed the child from a spoon, then we do it right.

4. Rejection . If he refuses, then offer the child several times, you can just get your lips dirty in food so that he licks them in order to feel the texture and taste of food on his lips in a playful way. Let's not rush.

Related articles:

  • How to teach a child to chew?
  • At what age does a child begin to eat independently?

Spoon-feeding and speech

What is spoon-feeding? Just opened, chewed, closed. But it turns out that the sensory-motor system is involved in the process of spoon-feeding. Here are a few examples of the benefits of proper spoon feeding.

1. When the spoon is fed into the mouth in a forward/forward motion, the child must use the lip muscles to clear the spoon of food. These are the same muscles that are used to create the sounds "M", "P", "B".

2. The suggestion of a spoon straight will make it easier to round the lips. Rounding the lips helps to make the sounds "O", "U", "A".

3. Offering a spoon from the side or corner of the lips will make it easier to close the lips. Closing the lips helps to make the sounds "M", "P", "B".

4. Closing the lips is also important for controlling saliva and keeping food in the mouth while eating.

5. Over time, the spoon helps the child practice using the jaw muscles as they open and close their mouth to eat in a more controlled manner.

How can I help my child eat from a spoon?

Children should instinctively close their lips, but if they do not, there are a few things that can be done to help oral-motor skill:

until the lips close.

2. Light pressure on the tongue can be used to close the lips.

3. For children with oral-motor problems, 9 can be selected0031 vibrating spoon , and also massage the gums before eating.

4. It may be necessary to stretch the lips beforehand to help close the lips.

Gymnastics to learn to close the mouth

There are many different lip stretching techniques that parents can try to spoon feed their baby: