By Annika Zalleck MOT OTR/L TEIS Occupational Therapist
Children are always ready to grow up faster than their parents want them to and this is true when it comes to wanting to feed themselves during meals! Older babies and toddlers want to become more independent and are usually grabbing at spoons while they are being fed by their parents from an early age. When it is appropriate to start giving your child utensils? At as young as 6 months, babies start to hold larger food items to gnaw on. They also enjoy playing with spoons and mouthing them. By 9-13 months, children enjoy finger feeding and use a variety of grasps to perform feeding. Once a child is around 1 year, she can start by dipping a spoon into food and bringing it to her mouth, although she may not actually get much into her mouth! Kid’s fine motor skills will continue to develop and at around 15-18 months, they should be able to perform more scooping with the spoon to pick up smaller pieces of food. And finally around 24-30 months it is a good time to introduce a fork to stab at and poke large pieces of food.
A good way to help your child practice his utensil skills is through play!
Some helpful tips for making your child more successful with utensil use at mealtime:
There will be many, many messy meals as your child learns to use utensils to feed himself so be prepared but know he is learning to become a more independent feeder!