How to Teach a Toddler to Feed Themselves

If your spoon-fed baby is now a spoon-fed toddler how can you foster independent eating? Here are our top three tips.

How to teach a toddler to feed themselves - little girl using a doddl baby spoon|Stacey Zimmels - FeedEatSpeak bio photo
At doddl, we believe that unleashing independence in every child starts with feeding, their first major milestone. Here are a few tips to help.

by doddl expert partner Stacey Zimmels - Paediatric Feeding and Swallowing Specialist Speech Therapist  

How to teach a toddler to feed themselves

If your spoon-fed baby is now a spoon-fed toddler how can you foster independent eating? Here are my top three tips:

  1. Mix up meals and snacks and start introducing foods that can be picked up and eaten by hand.

    These can include crackers, rice cakes or toddler snacks, fruit pieces, chips or potato wedges, veggie sticks such a cucumber or red pepper.

  2. Give a fork and spoon at each meal

    Model how to use it (by eating food from your own plate with cutlery) and suggesting they have a try themselves. To change a habit, you need to break a habit!

  3. Pass the fork and spoon

    Loading the utensil for your toddler and passing it to them breaks down the task of using cutlery to the final step of putting it into the mouth. Once they get used to this they can begin to master the whole skill.

How to teach a toddler to use a spoon

Learning to use a spoon is in part developmental and in part experience based. So they need to be physically capable and also to practice in order to do it. Babies can typically take a loaded spoon to their mouth from 9-10 months and can begin to scoop from a bowl between 12-15 months. Here are some tips that can help:

  1. When getting started go for a spoon with a short handle as it is easier to get it into the mouth.
  2. Begin by loading the food onto the spoon for them and practice with thicker foods that will stay on the spoon such as mashed potato rather than penne pasta which may fall off.
  3. To help learning to scoop, start with a bowl rather than a plate and pick one which has high sides. The doddl baby bowl is perfect - it sticks to the table which will help keep it stable. This in turn makes using the spoon easier.


Our range of doddl baby cutlery, suitable for 6 months+ is perfect for introducing cutlery to your little one. The fork and spoon have smooth ends which feel comfortable in your baby's mouth and the short handles encourage the correct grip. The children's cutlery is suitable for 12 months+ and includes a fork, spoon and knife. The short, smooth handles encourage the correct finger placement, developing dexterity, coordination and control. This makes it easy to transition to adult cutlery as and when they are ready.

Check out the whole doddl range here. 

Stacey Zimmels is a feeding and swallowing specialist speech therapist (SLT) and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Stacey has worked 20 years supporting infants and children with a wide range of feeding and swallowing difficulties. Her breadth of knowledge and experience runs across the spectrum; including but not exclusive to feeding difficulties associated with preterm infants, breast and bottle feeding, weaning difficulties, feeding challenges secondary to food allergies and reflux, swallowing difficulties and fussy eating. Find Stacey on Instagram @feedeatspeak, or on her website

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