One of the biggest steps in the early stages of your little one’s life is when your baby starts to eat solid food. Baby spoons might not seem like something you want to think about when you’re researching which solid foods to try first, but there are some important things to consider when looking at the best baby spoons and utensils.
Independent eating and self-feeding are big steps for your little one. They mark the end of the infant stage and the beginning of toddler-hood. Not all baby spoons are created equal though, and depending on your ethos for independent feeding will determine which type of baby spoon you get for your little one.
When Can You Start Feeding Your Baby Solid Food?
The term “solid foods” means something different for babies than it does for adults. Adults usually define solid foods as anything that you have to chew. But for babies, solid foods means anything other than breastmilk or formula, including rice cereal or other baby cereals. Some people still hold the archaic idea that babies should start eating rice cereal (either fed by spoon by the parents or put into a bottle) when they are around 4 months old. However, research has shown that this is not beneficial or necessary for babies. In fact, the general rule around solid foods for babies is “food before one is just for fun.” This means that any solid foods before your child’s first birthday isn’t really necessary for nutritional value, but is only for exploration purposes and to introduce your baby to different flavors and textures.
Some parents have different ideas of when you can start feeding baby’s solid foods. Most doctors, however, agree that waiting until a baby can sit up independently is usually a good marker of when you can start introducing solid foods. Introducing foods before this age, which is usually around 6 or 7 months, can be harmful to them in several different ways.
If you introduce before 6 to 7 months old, you could possibly decrease the nutritional intake of your little one. This often happens because their bellies are so full of solid foods that they do not take in as much breastmilk or formula which is specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of babies under one year old. In addition to decreasing the nutritional intake for your little one, you may find an introduction of solid foods may give them upset stomachs as their bodies are not yet developed enough to digest solid foods.
Although “food before one is just for fun” it is a good idea to start introducing your baby to solid foods around 6 to 8 months. One reason is that mealtime is a family bonding time, and allowing your child to sit with you at the table can start the process of that bonding time and teach them how to behave at the table at an early age. In addition, introducing different foods at a young age, specifically the same foods you are eating besides a few high allergen foods like honey, allows them to try different flavors and textures at a young age.
Research has found that early introduction (early meaning before one year old) of different flavors and textures is beneficial for children. Babies who are introduced to different foods around this age are more likely to try different foods as they get older and helps to expand their pallets.
Different Types of Feeding Method: Purees or Baby Led Weaning
There are a few different ways parents can introduce solid foods to their babies with the two main ways being purees or baby-led weaning. Purees are better known as “baby food” and they are smooth pureed versions of regular food. Many parents start off their babies with single flavored pureed foods like apples or bananas. Store-bought pureed food, even the organic brands, often contain added sugars and preservatives so if you go the route of pureed foods you may want to make your own at home.
Pureed foods often have to be parent-fed which eliminates the idea of teaching your child to independently and self-feed until they have better motor control. Baby-led weaning, however, allows your baby to take control of their feeding and feed themselves usually appropriately sized solid and regular foods to feed themselves.
Baby-led weaning, also known as BLW, is popular among parents because it not only teaches independent eating at a young age but it also introduces babies to a variety of flavors and textures at a young age. Children will be able to taste spices and eat the food that the rest of the family is eating right from the beginning. It also takes less prep than making your own pureed foods, and helps your child learn important skills like hand-to-eye coordination and fine motor skills like the pincher grasp early on. It also teaches them how to chew and their limits with their gag reflex.
There are several things to consider when starting baby-led weaning, and you absolutely do not want to start until your child can sit up completely independently as this will help ensure that the food goes down their windpipe and esophagus effectively. You may have to steam some harder foods earlier on to make them soft enough for babies without teeth. Babies have an incredibly sensitive gag reflex so choking is not a major concern as long as the foods are cut appropriately for their age. As with an independent activity, you should always stay with your baby when they eat.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Baby Spoon
No matter if you decide to feed your child purees or go the route of baby-led weaning, picking your baby’s first baby spoon is more important than you think, especially if you are trying to promote independent eating. Here are some things you should consider when looking for your baby’s first baby spoon:
- Material– look for food-grade silicone products as well as products that are free from BPA, PVC, phthalates, and latex.
- Ergonomic hold– look for a spoon that has an ergonomic hold. An ergonomic hold makes it easier for your little one to hold onto the spoon and helps promote self-feeding.
- Large Spoon– a large spoon base makes it easier to balance and scoop food.
Best Baby Spoons for First Time Solid Food Eaters
These cute little leaf-shaped spoons are a great option for your baby’s first spoons. They are made from 100% toxin-free food-grade silicone and they are soft on baby’s teeth and gums. The flexible material encourages your baby to eat independently and it makes it easier to scoop food at any angle. The Olababy 100% Silicone Soft-Tip Training Spoon is ergonomically designed for baby’s hands and the spoon base allows parents to place it upright on it’s end, ensuring that it’s more hygienic for your little one when not in use.
The GRABEASE First Training Self-Feed Baby Utensils help promote self-feeding by giving baby short, wide handles to hold their spoon and fork. The ergonomic design makes it easier for them to grasp easily, even for the youngest of independent eaters. They are also made with BPA-free plastic as well as free from lead and phthalates.
The GRABEASE First Training Self-Feed Baby Utensils also prevents choking. The cloud-shape on the handles prevents your little one from sticking their utensil down in their throats too far and causing them to gag or choke. They are also super easy to clean as they are dishwasher safe or you can place them in boiling water or a bottle sterilizer for an even easier clean.
The GRABEASE First Training Self-Feed Baby Utensils help to develop dexterity and fine motor skills. The utensils were designed with the help of occupational therapists and will help your little one learn the skills they need for advanced fine and gross-motor skills like writing, coloring, and drawing.
The Sperric Silicone Baby Spoons for Baby Led Weaning is the perfect first-stage spoon set. They are made from 100% food-grade silicone so they are free from plastics and toxins. They have been ergonomically designed to help little hands master the skill of self-feeding while their fine motor skills are still developing. The food-grade silicone makes them super soft on baby’s gums and teeth, too, making them a great option for teething little ones (they may even want to use them just to chew on!).
These first-baby spoons are easy to clean. They are also anti-bacterial and anti-germ. The Sperric Silicone Baby Spoons are great for either pureed food or families doing baby-led weaning.
One of the most difficult things for little ones to do as new independent eaters is trying to scoop and balance foods on the edge of their spoons. With the NumNum Pre-Spoon GOOtensils your little one doesn’t have to worry about that- there is no scooping or balancing as the unique design helps to grab foods as your little one tries to scoop it up. The set comes with two different utensils for different ages- the Stage 1 GOOtensil is great for purees while the Stage 2 Toddler GOOtensil is great for soft or solid foods.
The NumNum Pre-Spoon GOOtensils help make the transition to solid food and independent eating even easier. It can be used for pureed foods or solid foods, and even can act as a gum soother for teething babies. They are with from child-safe food grade silicone and are 100% BPA, PVC and phthalates free.
This training spoon from Avanchy is a great transition spoon for babies to toddlers. It is designed for children who already have the motor skills to hold a spoon and are continuing to work on their hand-eye coordination to get the spoons to their mouths. The ergonomic design of the Avanchy First Stage Baby Feeding Spoons is made with a sturdy reinforced beck that’s easy to use for one littles. The spoon head is also larger with a shorter handle that makes it easier for babies to scoop and balance their food.
The spoon head is made from BPA free food grade silicone while the handle is made from organic bamboo. They are also plastic-free, PVC-free, lead-free, and phthalate-free with no biologically harmful chemical materials. The natural colors and design of the Avanchy First Stage Baby Feeding Spoons make it a favorite among eco-friendly moms.
The Burabi Silicone Squeeze Feeding Spoon is a great option for parents who still want to use pureed foods but would like to get their child in the mindset of independent eating. The convenient handle container can hold pureed foods, soup, smoothies, yogurt, or any semi-smooth foods. Then you or your baby can dispense the food by squeezing it onto the spoon.
The Burabi Silicone Squeeze Feeding Spoon is made from child-safe food-grade silicone and is completely BPA free. It is dishwasher safe as well for easy cleanup. It is a great option for parents who are want to go slow with baby-led weaning or who would like a less messy transition to self-feeding.
The unique design of the Ryan & Rose Baby Spoon and Fork is a combination of a spoon and fork. It allows for easy scooping while still giving the ability to pick up more solid foods with the fork design. The fork prongs also help grip foods as your child scoops, making it easier to learn the fine and gross motor skills of scooping and balancing.
The easy-grip handle of the Ryan & Rose Baby Spoon and Fork makes it easy to hold to for even the littles of hands. It also helps promote self-feeding and independence with an ergonomic design. The Ryan & Rose Baby Spoon and Fork is 100% non-toxic and made with 100% food-grade silicone that is free from BPA, PVC, phthalates, and latex. It is also FDA approved.
Once your baby gets used to using a spoon, you may want to transition them to something that will help them get used to using larger utensils. The Doddl Cutlery Set for Children is a three-piece set that includes a knife, fork, and spoon. It helps your child learn independent eating practices as well as fine motor skills like pincher grasp and hand-eye coordination. The easy to control palm-sized handles make it easier for your little one to hold on and maneuver the utensils on their own.
The Doddl Cutlery Set for Children should be used for children 12 months and older, but the fork and spoon can be introduced at a younger age to get your child used to holding and exploring the utensils.
The OXO Tot Feeding Spoon Set is a more traditional feeding spoon for babies. The silicone head is made from 100% food-grade silicone and is safe for your baby to eat from. It also is soft and gentle on sore and teething gums. The spoon shape makes it easier to scoop up food independently or with the use of parental help.
The handle of the OXO Tot Feeding Spoon Set is made from sturdy stainless steel that is durable over years of use. It is covered with food-grade silicone in case your little one decides to use the ends to chew on. The OXO Tot Feeding Spoon Set is 100% toxic-free and is BPA, phthalate, and PVC free
The ergonomic hold of the Novos Baby Spoon and Fork Feeding Set makes it a parent and child favorite for self-feeding. The handles themselves are made with TPE soft glue which allows them to be bent to the left or to the right, making it easier for your child to scoop and balance their food. The handle also has silicone grips and is made extra-wide for easier holds. The spoon itself is made from food-grade silicone and BPA free and FDA approved.
The Novos Baby Spoon and Fork Feeding Set also comes with a bonus travel case that ensure that no matter where you are, your baby utensils will stay clean.
Your baby learning to feed themselves is an important developmental milestone and one that is exciting for the whole family. Playing while eating is fun, messy, but it is also an important skill to learn. Getting an ergonomic baby spoon will help your child with the hand-eye coordination and it will help them learn to eat on their own faster.
Photo: Oksana Kuzmina/Shutterstock
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