How to Teach Your Baby to Use a Spoon

Last updated May 2, 2023
By Renae D'Andrea

One of the most common questions I get is about how to teach a baby to use a spoon. 

Today we’ll talk about the specific things you can do to help your baby learn to use a spoon. In this post I talked about some more passive ways you can teach spoon use. 

More: For more help with baby led weaning and how to help your baby succeed with eating, be sure to check out this article with a comprehensive guide to baby led weaning and first baby foods!

When to start

I’ve seen all sorts of recommendations on this. The most common one I’ve seen recommends having your baby start to use a spoon around 12 months.

Here’s the thing. Why wait?

While sure, your baby won’t be able to load their own food onto their spoon for awhile, there is absolutely no reason to wait until 12 months to introduce a spoon.

I recommend introducing a spoon a soon as you start introducing solid foods. And then keep exposing your baby to it at least once a day if possible. 

The details

With a baby-led weaning style of feeding, this can be quite easy to accomplish.

Serve nutritious foods like yogurt or oatmeal, and preload your baby’s spoon with the food. Then set it on their plate and let them go for it.

Will they make it to their mouth on the first shot? Probably not. Maybe on the 50th. Maybe. But that’s ok! It’s all about the exposure.

And they might shock you with how quickly they figure out how to get the spoon into their mouth. (Sometimes, that is!)

If you’re feeding purees, it can be a little more difficult to incorporate letting your baby use a spoon in those first few months.

I encourage you to also pre-load a spoon and let your baby get it to their own mouth. You don’t have to do this for the whole meal, but do try to do it for as much as you can. 

For both feeding methods, a great way to keep the feeding moving is to have more than one spoon to pre-load.

That way while your baby is working with one spoon you can pre-load another.

Often times the second spoon with food can encourage your baby to relinquish the first spoon.

Encouraging sounds when your baby gives you the spoon to load again, or even just let’s the spoon go, can go a long ways towards teaching your baby how to get more food on their spoon and reduce frustration.


Using a spoon is a skill that is learned. That means that not all babies will learn it at the same time.

Sure, if you give a 15 month old a spoon for the first time, they’ll learn how to use it quicker than a 6 month old. To a point.

But not all 15 month olds will have the same skills.

So what can you expect when you're teaching your baby to use a spoon? It depends!

All babies are different. You could have a precocious baby that picks it up quickly, or one that takes a bit longer.

The key is repetition and no pressure. Especially before 14-15ish months when the desire to start scooping things onto the spoon by themselves might become more prominent. 

If you start at 6 months, expect it to be quite a while before your baby actually gets food on their own spoon.

But with some practice, they should be able to get the spoon to their mouth and effectively eat food from it. 

If you start later, say around 12 months, still expect it to take some time to gain the skills.

Allow your baby the time to explore with the spoon and use it how they want at the table. Pre-loading the food is key. By modeling how to use a spoon, you can go a long way in helping this stage. 


Once your baby starts to express a true desire to scoop their own food with their spoon, you can start to gently use a hand over hand method if that is something your baby finds helpful. 

Place your hand on top of theirs and guide the spoon as they scoop food. Allow them to handle the spoon themselves once the food is on the spoon.

Don’t be surprised if your baby still uses their hands to pick things up, as it is still more efficient for them. 

And if you have a baby who wants nothing to do with your help, know that that's okay too! You don't need to practice hand over hand by any means, they will still pick it up all by themselves in their own time.

Keep This In Mind

At this age there’s really no need to start teaching table manners around this aspect of eating.

Continue to let them explore and develop their skills, and wait until much later in the second year of life to start curtailing exploring food with their hands and spoon. 

Get the Starting Solids: Setting the Foundation Course Today!

Answers and guidance that you never knew you needed. The foundations course will set you and your child up for a lifetime of positive feeding and eating! 

Get Age-Specific Help for Your Child!

Join our email list to receive weekly feeding tips and help, tailored specifically to your child's age. Get the help you never knew you needed, just when you need it!

How old is your child?
0 years
  • 0 years
  • 1 year
  • 2 years
  • 3 years
  • 4 years
  • 5+ years

6 months
  • 0 months
  • 1 month
  • 2 months
  • 3 months
  • 4 months
  • 5 months
  • 6 months
  • 7 months
  • 8 months
  • 9 months
  • 10 months
  • 11 months

We'd love to give you all the help that we can when it comes to feeding your child! By sharing with us your child's age, we can tailor the information we send so that it is the most helpful for you. We won't share your child's age with any one else, and it's optional. See our full privacy policy.

  • Every time I preload a spoon and place it on my baby’s plate, she just grabs the food off the spoon and shoves that in her mouth! What should I do? She’s 8 months.

  • My 8 month old just grabs the food off of the spoon and shoves it in her mouth! Should I be encouraging her to hold the spoon, or just let her do her thing?

  • My 10 month old twins love holding spoons and bringing them to their mouths at mealtime, but only if they’re empty! If I preload the spoon, they refuse to take it. I also tried teaching them hand over hand, but they won’t do it. Is this normal? Do they just need more time?

  • newwaysnutrition says:

    I would keep encouraging her by pre-loading the spoon and modeling eating off the spoon, but exploration is a big thing at this age and I wouldn’t force her to use the spoon if she would prefer to grab it off the spoon.

  • newwaysnutrition says:

    Allow your baby the time to explore with the spoon and use it how they want at the table. Pre-loading the food is key. By modeling how to use a spoon, you can go a long way in helping this stage.

  • newwaysnutrition says:

    This is still a time of exploration. Keep preloading the spoon and modeling how to use a spoon.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Learn how to foster a healthy relationship with food for your child. Start now!

    Success message!
    Warning message!
    Error message!