It could interest you to learn that some speech language pathologists (SLPs) specialize in assisting babies and toddlers with a difficult developmental stage known as “feeding.” If parents chose to adopt a baby-self-fed model, present the spoon to the baby’s mouth, or combine the two feeding models, protection is paramount. Another significant priority is to encourage the growth of important fine motor skills in order to prepare baby for success.

It’s tempting to just hand baby a “standard” spoon from our utensil drawer, but that’s like telling a learning eater to eat with a shovel! It’s simply not made for inexperienced eaters or little hands and mouths. You might not have spoons as new born baby essentials but soon, you’ll need one when your kids are ready to start solids.

Fine motor skills include not only the hands and thumbs, but also the mouth, lips, and chin. Choose a spoon that is made especially for small mouths and to help with fine motor growth. Choose a spoon with four distinct characteristics.

The four tips

To avoid confusion, the spoon’s “cup,” or the portion that goes into the baby’s mouth, should be just big enough to carry the food without spilling too much. It must also be the “just-right” scale to fit around the breadth of the baby’s mouth from corner to corner of the cute grin!

Second, the “bowl” must be flat, and third, it must not be too long. A specially designed lip-block prevents babies (or you) from putting the spoon too far back, resulting in gagging and/or food being deposited too close to the airway. The spoon may also be used as a teether, touching the first half of the baby’s tongue and assisting in the desensitization of the gag reflex without inducing pain.

Fourth, the handle should be short and squat, allowing little fists to grip it even though it’s slick. When it comes to trying new recipes and learning self-feeding abilities, babies need to be a little dirty. Exploring new foods using all of the senses, including the tactile sense, is an essential aspect of learning to become an adventurous eater. That’s how babies think, and a little mess is beneficial!

What matters most, though, is the laughter you carry to your family’s table! Raising a happy, nutritious eater is a long process that requires patience and direction.

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