Your Toddler’s Self-Feeding Skills

You may be asking yourself if your toddler (young child over the age of one year) can manage the foods you are making for the family. Here are some suggestions for helping your toddler develop feeding skills so that he can feed himself AND so you can feed everyone the same meal.

  • Bring your toddler to the table each time you eat. He will use his senses to learn all about food and his world. He will SEE the food, SMELL the food, HEAR you talk about the food, and he may be ready to TOUCH and TASTE the food.
  • Embrace the mess! Toddlers can be messy eaters. The good news is that the more practice he has, the less messy he will be. Put an old sheet or a half of a shower curtain under his seat to catch the mess. Just shake it off later.
  • Allow your toddler to practice with a spoon. Whenever he shows interest (usually about 14 months or so) give him a spoon while you are feeding him. You can "load" his spoon and help him get it to his mouth. You can also have a spoon for you to feed him a few bites at this point. Very soon your toddler will not want you to feed him with a spoon. Starting this way will allow him to learn the spoon skill at his own pace.
  • Allow your toddler to use his hands too. Most toddlers aren’t super great with spoon-feeding themselves until they are close to 2 years of age. While your little one is mastering the spoon, let him also use his fingers to feed himself.

Early Head Start 
Nutrition News

April 2007

From your nutritionist, Ann