Eating with a spoon requires fine motor skill development, as well as hand eye coordination. My personal experience has been that my son was ready to try using a spoon around the age of 15 months old. Prior to 15 months, I worked on a lot of fine motor skills with him- such as holding a paint brush, writing with chalk, drawing with crayons, stacking rings, and putting buttons through a small hole. Many of these skills also require good hand eye coordination. Once I notice that he was able to many of these tasks with more ease, I began the process of introducing the spoon.
I should add, that I have allowed my son to play with a spoon during meal times since he was much younger- maybe around 9 months old. I would lay a plastic feeding spoon on his high chair and let him chew on it and play with it. I also made sure that I ate with a spoon in front of my son and occasionally showed him how to hold the spoon and bring it to his mouth. So by the time he was 15 months old, he understood the concept of what a spoon was and its function.
Start by giving your baby a small bowl/ cup of tick food. The thick consistence will keep the food from running of the spoon. Here are some good first foods to use to introduce self spoon-feeding:
- Mashed Potatoes
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Mashed Butternut Squash
- Yogurt mixed with baby cereal or baby oatmeal to make it thicker
The mechanics of self spoon feeding a kind of rough at first. You may find your little one just poking the spoon into the food and then bring it to his or her mouth. That is a good first step. You will have to show your child how to “dig” into the food and lift it up so that more food collects on the spoon. Model how this is done by guiding his or hand and allow your child to bring the spoon to their mouth. This is a hard skill to develop, so be patient. Self feeding with a spoon also takes a longer time to do, so if you are in a rush to go somewhere do not allow your child to self feed during that meal or you will never get out of the house on time. I usually save self spoon feeding for dinner since I usually am not heading out anywhere anytime soon, he will get a bath after dinner, and I don’t feel like I have to rush him.
Make sure you are prepare for there to be a mess. If the weather is warm, you can take you child’s shirt off. If you want to use a bib, make sure it is wide and covers a lot of surface area. I have found some really good toddler bibs at walmart that pull over the toddler’s head. They seem to help keep messes to a minimum (sort of, haha). Also I know that bumkin makes a bib that actually has long selves if you care to try that out too. I also keep a wet washcloth handy to wipe my son’s mouth, hands, and face when he is done eating. He is usually caked in food by the time he is done.