Have you noticed that if you let your baby or toddler feed themselves with loaded utensils they are likely to hold the spoon or fork hostage?
Foodie Judy here! I’m a Pediatric Occupational Therapist specializing in Feeding Therapy. I work with dozens of private clients each week in their homes in Colorado, helping them learn how to successfully eat - many of my clients have medical or developmental issues affecting food.
One trick I use is the Three Spoon Circus, whereby you introduce a third loaded spoon (or fork) when practicing with utensils. Without the struggle to pry the utensil from your child’s hands, mealtime stays more fun and positive and your child may be more likely to continue self-feeding.
We recommend introducing loaded utensils around 6 months in our online Infant Feeding course - yes, utensils are important in baby-led weaning (infant self-feeding)! Your baby won’t be able to scoop with a spoon or stab with a fork for many months, but they have to practice to learn! Make sure they’re also using their hands for many of their meals - involve utensils here and there so they have the opportunity to practice, but touching food and using their hands are critical at this age.
If you have our online Toddler Course, make sure to check out step 8 - we have a great video on play-based activities to promote utensil use as your child gets older! Mastering utensils is a process, one that requires lots of practice and modeling.
This Three Spoon Circus can be used for babies and toddlers who are not quite proficient with dipping/scooping with a spoon or stabbing with a fork. It can also be used with babies who are transitioning off of being spoon fed when parents want to let them self-feed but are nervous to give them whole, non-pureed foods. Watching your baby do it themselves oftentimes builds confidence to try additional textures.
Here are the steps:
Shown: NumNum GOOtensils, such a hot commodity that they sell out from time to time. If you can’t find them, try a short-handled baby spoon.
Megan and Judy, co-owners of Feeding Littles, bring you helpful info on food, nutrition, picky eating, and feeding young children. Megan McNamee MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Judy Delaware, OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist specializing in feeding therapy with children 3 and under in Boulder, Colorado. Megan and Judy are both moms of two and love helping families develop a healthy appetite for all foods!