Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
I’m big on utensils in my house. Maybe you’ve seen the box of kids utensils we keep on our kitchen table. There are a lot. And of course my children must look at every single utensil before they choose one – at every single meal. It’s kinda out of hand. hahaha. That’s okay though, because I can make lots of recommendations to you. Ha!
I’ll be honest, I didn’t get into any fancy “spoons” when I started feeding my kiddos. I just went to Babies-R-Us (when they were a thing) and walked over to the “baby spoon” section. I picked a package.
Okay, I’m lying. I actually stood there for 30 minutes looking at them all and trying to figure out which one was the “best”. And then, I bought those. Only to think for the next 6 months, surely I had not bought the “right” ones. #newmomlife
There are all sorts of spoons on the market. I’m not a spoon expert. One thing I did learn, is that my baby could feed himself with a toddler spoon at age 6 months. He was fiercely independent! So, yeah, my kids fed themselves with whatever spoon they wanted from the beginning. Other kids like those cool spoons that you can “pre-load” with food. That’s fun too.
This article is not entirely about spoons though, and maybe I’m a little skeptical about the whole “you must use this spoon for your baby or they will be developmentally inferior forever” thing. I’m also totally realistic about how magic the “right” spoon can be for a kid. Balance. Nuance. Welcome to motherhood.
Back to my kids..after like, um, 3 months, my kids wanted cooler utensils. The older my kids got, the more they were into tools and utensils. They are a great way to get kids interested in eating! My kids will eat almost anything with a new utensil/tool.
One thing to keep in mind is safety. I am always pushing my kids to develop their skills. My kids also LOVE danger (stereotypical boys!) Having a sharp-ish or actually sharp utensil brings them to the table and keeps them there. This works for me. This may not work for you and your kids. So, decide what you are comfortable with.
I put ages on here, but they are approximate. So much depends on your comfort level and your child. As with all things kid-related, use your common sense! If your kiddo may hurt themselves and you are not okay with that, then choose a safer utensil until you feel comfortable.
1. Adult flatware
Age: when they start demanding them
I know this strikes fear into a lot of mom’s hearts. Seriously, though. My second kid would throw a complete fit if he couldn’t use MY spoon. He insisted on adult utensils for at least his first year of eating. Obviously forks were a bit dicey, but the spoons were great.
2. Basic colorful baby/toddler/kid utensils.
Age: 6 mo+
My kids still continue to love their Gerber utensils. So basic. Inexpensive. Just right for kid hands. And so easy to find. They are classic. My 5-year-old still loves them, with no sign of stopping. He does not like adult utensils. He informs me of this fact every time I accidentally give him one.
These are also nice, because if you accidentally leave them places, you can replace them easily. I like to have a big stash.
3. Kiddobloom utensils
Age: 12 mo+
These are my favorite kids utensils. They are beautiful, feel really good in your hand, and also the kids have fun with the frog on the handle. The other benefit is that they look like “adult” cutlery, so it may work for kids who want what the adults have (but mom doesn’t want to give them a huge fork).
The quality is exceptional.
4. Constructive Eating
Age: 12 mo+
My kids absolutely love the digger and pusher and “fork lift”. There is a fairy garden set of utensils too, if your kids aren’t into construction equipment. These are fun because each utensil requires different developmental skills. So the kids are lifting, pushing, pulling, and scooping.
You will notice that the way they use the utensils changes over time as their developmental skills fall into place. It’s fun to watch.
Age: 18 mo+
I’ve said it before – toothpicks are magic. Once you are cool with your toddler poking himself or herself a few times (they usually don’t do it more than a few times), pull out a toothpick. You can use a plain toothpick or a party toothpick. Whatever it looks like is beside the point.
Your kiddo will want to stab stuff once they have it. Make sure you are giving them foods that are safe for them to eat (without choking). And let them go for it. You may enjoy the show too.
Plus, you can put fruits and veggies on a stick. They like that. A lot. It’s a great way to help them choose to eat veggies!
6. Longer Toothpicks
Age: 2 yrs+
Long toothpicks are also called “cocktail toothpicks” or “party toothpicks”. If your child is still putting random objects in their mouth, do not pick ones that have a decoration on the end! Sometimes the decorations come off and could pose a choking hazard.
Wait until 3 for the decorations.
There are other ones that don’t have decorations though. Those are great for 2-year-olds! Give them a bunch of safe-to-eat things to put on the stick and then go run and do something for 5 or 10 minutes. I think you will like this trick.
7. Food Picks
Age: 3 yrs+
Food picks are super fun for preschoolers. Sometimes kids are ready for them before age 3, but they need to not be putting them in their mouth. So, watch for when your kid is ready.
I love them most because they are easy. I can make a normal lunch, stick a food food picks in it, and it’s “cute” or “fancy”. And took me 5 seconds extra. A good deal!
You can turn plain veggies into cool things. Pick ones that will make you and your kiddos smile. Pandas make me smile every time. I may have bought 2 sets of them.
8. Trainer Chopsticks
Age: 2 yrs+
An Auntie gave Big M a pair of trainer chopsticks when he was 4. It was amazing to see him learn them. Of course Little m would not be left behind. So, I got him a pair of his own and he successfully used them for the first time at 2.5!
There are different “levels” of trainer chopsticks as well. So you can get easy, harder, and harder chopsticks, that still have a little support to them.
What I love is the kids work SO hard at learning to use them. When they finally figure it out, they are so proud of themselves. I love that my 5-year-old loves to eat salad with trainer chopsticks.
Make sure you get right-handed or left-handed trainer chopsticks depending on what your kiddo needs. Some trainer chopsticks only work with one hand.
Age: 3 yrs+
People have told me it’s common for kids who grow up with chopsticks to learn to use the normal ones at 3. My kids are still exploring normal chopsticks. They are figuring it out though and both of them managed to pick up some eggs (using their own technique) today!
We have chopsticks available as a utensil choice at every meal so that they can practice if they’d like. We use these chopsticks without the trainer aides (the training “helps” on these frustrate my kids, so we used those for art projects instead…hahaha). The chopsticks themselves are awesome though.
10. Corn Cob Holders
Age: 5 yrs+
As we all know, corn cob skewers are very sharp. Which makes them “dangerous” and also “very attractive” to any child who likes danger. I only recommend using them once your kiddo has a good amount of common sense. We also have boundaries for our holders. They
- Stay at the table
- Are only used for food
- Are immediately taken away if they are used for any purpose other than eating food
Because the holders are dangerous, I find my kids really think about what they are doing and how they are going to get the food into their mouth. The concentration is good for their focus. And they also elicit a new type of stabbing motion. But again, use your common sense to decide if they are good fit for you.
Tongs provide a great developmental skill as well. You can get mini ones or large ones. Kids will love to serve themselves from a family-style dinner with the tons. Also, if you have mini tongs, they can put food into their own mouth with the small tongs.
Some tongs are really easy and better for 2-year-olds. Other tongs are a bit more tricky and better for kids who are slightly older. You can pick ones that are best for the age of your child.