Learning to use a spoonPractice really does make perfect, so it won’t be long before their coordination improves and less food ends up on the floor. Be sure to heap on the praise when they do well, and you’ll be amazed by how quickly they pick up new skills.
Remember though, that every child is unique, so don’t worry if your little one isn’t learning as quickly as their friends – they’ll all get there in the end.
Your toddler’s independence will be growing at an astonishing rate during their second year. They’ll go from picking food up with their fingers to spoon feeding themselves pretty well, and by the time they’re 2 they should be able to drink from their cup using just one hand (without too many spillages). By their second birthday, they’ll probably even be able to suck through a straw. Try to eat as a family wherever possible, and keep up the encouragement – they’ll be very proud of their new skills, and will love having an audience to show off to!
New feeding skills
A fun way to encourage independence when it comes to eating is to give your toddler a variety of foods that they can pick up and eat with their fingers. Offering a range of different textures and types of food will help keep mealtimes interesting, and get your little one excited about trying new things.
Fun finger foods
Some finger foods that have been popular with our toddlers include:
• mini-cheese and marmite sandwiches
• strips of cooked chicken
• hard-boiled eggs, cut in slices or quarters
• cheese cubes
• sticks of carrot, cucumber and any other favourite veggies
• fruit slices, especially apples and bananas
Remember that your toddler needs a very different diet from you, and the balance of nutrients that’s healthy for adults isn’t so great for them. There’s more information in our toddler nutrition section to help you make sure your little one is getting just what they need to fuel all that growing and exploring.
Your instinct as a parent may be to try and get your toddler to eat as much as possible and to try and clear their plate at every meal time, but this may not be the best approach. Being able to control their own appetite naturally is a really important skill for your little one to learn, and this means trusting them to stop eating when they feel full (bearing in mind that their tummy is still very small). Research shows that this is a positive way to help reduce their risk of becoming overweight later in life.
Worrying about portion sizes only adds stress to what should be a fun and exciting way for you and your toddler to play and learn together. So it’s best to sit back, relax, and enjoy!