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When Should I Give Baby a Spoon?

I know it’s going to be messy, but baby has to learn eventually, right? When should I give her a spoon? How about a fork?
ByErin van Vuuren
Updated
January 30, 2017
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Ready. Set. Peas in your hair! Feel free to let baby experiment with a child-size spoon as soon as she seems interested. Just don’t expect her to get it right for a while.

“At around six months, a baby can start to hold foods in their palm, followed by the development of the pincer grasp, which allows them to hold food with fingers,” says Eileen Behan, RD, LD, author of The Baby Food Bible. “Babies will try and hold utensils but it takes a lot of coordination to get the food on the spoon and then to the mouth — so be patient.”

So whenever you want, stick a spoon in her hand and see what happens. “A short, wide spoon with a rubber handle is best at first,” says Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, family physician and coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year. This type of spoon is easiest for chubby little baby hands to grasp.

Forks will come later. “Even forks designed for toddlers can still scratch and poke, so don’t introduce the fork until your baby has completely mastered the spoon,” McAllister says. Expect that to happen at around 16 to 18 months.

Oh, and one more thing: Food is going to get everywhere. (Yes, we mean _everywhere _— on the wall, on the floor, in your hair, on the dog…) Just roll with it. “Let your child play with her food,” says Behan. “Plan ahead to keep things clean — put a mat on the floor and have plenty of bibs on hand.” And hey, the dog will be happy.

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