Whether you spoon feed your baby purees of peas and avocado or take the baby-led weaning approach with chunks of bananas, there comes a time when you are seriously wishing your baby would pick up a spoon already. Like most major milestones (especially those that require motor skills), using a utensil takes time, but when should a baby be able to use utensils? Is it normal if your baby can't use utensils?
When it comes to any kind of development with your child or baby milestone, you have to remember one important thing — every baby is different. They all reach milestones at different ages, they all have different strengths and weaknesses, and there really isn't any point in comparing.
Keeping that in mind, Parents notes that most babies start to use utensils around 13 to 15 months. Of course, that doesn't mean they're actually using them correctly or without a mess. Because most babies are self-feeding with their fingers from around 8 to 12 months, they're still getting the hang of utensils after their first birthday. In fact, Baby Center notes that most babies still don't really use a utensil until they are about 18 months old, when all of those milestones start rushing in.
Learning how to use utensils comes from babies mimicking the same actions they see you doing. Have you ever noticed how a baby as young as six or seven months knows to put a comb to their hair? According to Baby Center, that's how almost all baby motor skills are taught — they're simply paying attention to what you're doing. You may have even noticed that if you're feeding your baby with a spoon, they reach for it or try to grab the bowl out of your hand.
It's totally normal for your baby to take their time using a utensil, especially if they find it frustrating to eat with one. My 2 year old daughter is pretty great with all utensils, but still eats with her hands half of the time because it's easier and she's not at risk of dropping any of her precious waffles.
If your child still seems to really hate the utensil, or you want to help them feel more comfortable with it, Parents suggests serving a favorite food item that's also easy to eat with a spoon or a fork. Yogurt is always a great choice, as is pasta and mashed potatoes. Things that are soft, so they aren't hard to scoop or stab with a fork, and that will stay in place on the utensil can make them feel more confident feeding themselves. (You're still going to have to wipe down the entire kitchen when they're done, FYI.)