The 9 Best Toddler Utensils For Self-Feeding, According To A Feeding Therapist

A pediatric occupational therapist explains why initiating self-feeding is important and why the right utensil matters.

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Oh, the joy of teaching your toddler how to feed themselves. It’s a time of discovery, cute smiles, and…a mess, and sometimes tears. In all fairness, learning to get food into your mouth with a utensil takes some serious practice; practice that can be frustrating for toddlers. Good thing the best toddler utensils for self-feeding are designed to make the process a little easier with features like easy-to-grip handles and sensory guards to prevent gagging. Scary Mommy reached out to pediatric occupational therapist and feeding expert Marielle Marquez to learn more about what to look for when shopping for toddler utensils.

The Expert

Marielle Marquez is a Los Angeles-based pediatric occupational therapist specializing in feeding at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center. She has over 12 years of experience working in a variety of settings including hospitals, NICU, schools, outpatient clinics, and in-home therapy — but babies and toddlers are her expertise. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a master’s degree in occupational therapy and holds an advanced certification in feeding and swallowing. She is also a mom and advocate for parents dealing with tethered oral tissues (TOTs).

When Should A Toddler Feed Themselves With Utensils?

According to Marquez, toddlers typically develop the skills necessary to use a utensil successfully by age 3. These skills include hand-eye coordination and advanced grasp patterns (that will improve with practice). She also explains that beyond developing fine motor skills, learning to self-feed is an essential step toward independence. “Self-feeding is an important basic self-care activity that allows children to be independent. Not only does self-feeding help to improve a child’s fine motor skills and self-care abilities, but it allows them the freedom to choose what goes into their mouth and when,” she says, adding that forcing a child to eat can exacerbate existing “picky” eating patterns.

Marquez says that parents and caregivers can motivate toddlers to self-feed by serving them their favorite foods and praising their efforts. For children who are struggling to scoop up food on their own, she says preloading the utensil, setting it down, and then allowing the child to pick it up and bring it to their mouth is a helpful alternative during the early learning stage.

What To Consider When Shopping For The Best Toddler Utensils For Self-Feeding

“When teaching young babies and toddlers to self-feed, I recommend utensils that are short, with a chubby handle, and spoons should have a small and shallow bowl. Soft silicone utensils are great for young babies who are first learning. If your little one has a tendency to put utensils too far in their mouth, some utensils have a [protective] shield to prevent this,” says Marquez.

Utensils with long or thin handles should be avoided since they’re more difficult to hold and aim and can be frustrating. Once toddlers get older, heftier metal utensils for kids can help them transition to adult utensils.

From babies just starting to self-feed to older toddlers who are working on mastering the art, this list of the best toddler utensils is sure to get your kiddo excited about mealtime.

In a hurry? Here are the top picks for the best toddler utensils for self-feeding:

  1. These Expert-Recommended Spoons With Gag Guards: Grabease Silicone Spoons (2 Pieces)
  2. The Fan-Favorite Toddler Spoon & Fork Set: Munchkin Raise Spoon and Fork Set (4 Pieces)
  3. The Best Utensils With Looped Handles: Itzy Ritzy Silicone Spoon & Fork Set (2 Pieces)
  4. The Best For Temperature Control: Munchkin ColorReveal Spoon & Fork Set (6 Pieces)
  5. The Easiest To Grip: Nuby Stainless Steel Utensils (2 Pieces)
  6. The Best No-Mess Design: Elk & Friends Silicone & Stainless Steel Toddler Utensils (6 Pieces)
  7. The Best Curved Utensils For Toddlers: Linowos Bendable Fork & Spoon Set (2 Pieces)
  8. The Best Stainless Steel Utensil Set: ANNOVA Kids Silverware Set (6 Pieces)
  9. The Best Toddler Utensil Set With A Knife: ezpz Happy Utensils (3 Pieces)


These Expert-Recommended Silicone Spoons For Early Self-Feeding

Our expert recommends these silicone baby spoons for introducing young children to self-feeding. The adorable flower-shaped guard helps prevent over-insertion that can lead to gagging and a negative experience for kids. When not used for feeding, babies and toddlers can flip the spoon around and soothe their gums on the textured handle. What’s not to love about multitasking baby items? Plus, the two-piece set is dishwasher-safe and odor-resistant.

Helpful Review: “These are by far the easiest spoons for my six-month old to use. They’re small, pliable, and the guard is perfectly positioned to encourage her to hold on to the handle and put the spoon side into her mouth (which is definitely not the case with other spoons).”

Available Colors: 4


A Popular Toddler Utensil Set With 30,000+ Ratings

The short, fat handles on these durable plastic toddler forks and spoons are great for little hands learning to balance and navigate food to their mouths since it encourages a natural grasp. Parents will love that the guard works as a gag-prevention tool that also keeps the stainless steel ends lifted and away from germs. The pack of four contains two spoons and two forks that are dishwasher-safe and BPA-free. Also noteworthy? This budget- and toddler-friendly set has amassed more than 30,000 ratings on Amazon to date.

Helpful Review: “I've been using these for about a year now and they are withstanding being thrown from the dinner table daily and going through the dishwasher numerous times. Easy to hold handles and perfect size for a toddler.”

Available Colors: 2, also available as a 6-pack


This Silicone Spoon & Fork Set With Braided Looped Handles

If your little one is just starting to navigate utensils on their own, this cute and braided looped spoon and fork set might be easier for them to grab and hold. Made of food-grade silicone that’s dishwasher safe, these utensils also make for great teething toys. One reviewer even noted of her son, “this is his favorite teether.”

Helpful Review: “They are great for my 1yo who really wants to eat by herself but needs a little help holding the spoon. With the round opening she can easily hold it and its not long so its easy for her to put the food in her mouth! Great product!”

Available Colors: 6


These Toddler Utensils That Change Color If Food Is Too Hot

The color-changing feature on these plastic toddler forks and spoons is great for ensuring temperature is just-right for your LO — they change color whenever they touch too-warm or cold food. The ergonomic handles are the perfect size for toddlers' hands. And we love that they’re dishwasher-safe and budget-friendly. You get three spoons and three forks in the set.

Helpful Review: “The color changing is awesome and very sensitive. Really lets you know when something is hot or cold quickly. Good size and grip, great kids utensils.”

Available Colors: 1; also available in a set with suctioned bowls


This Spoon & Fork Set With Textured Handles For Better Grip

This spoon and fork set from Nuby is extra grippy thanks to the textured dots along the toddler-sized rubber handles. Parents report that the durable stainless steel tips are good at picking up and scooping food, with one shopper noting that the “spoon is wide enough for all our meals and snacks” The top-shelf dishwasher-safe set is a highly rated option on Amazon, with a 4.8-star rating overall after more than 3,000 reviews.

Helpful Review: “I've tried at least 10 sets like this and this one is the best I've found. The fork is sharp enough to actually pierce and pickupfood, which not being the slightest bit dangerous for little hands/mouths. The angle of the handle is great and my daughter has been able to handle it well. The slope/depth of the spoon is deep enough to actually carry food without it sliding out. This set has lasted us, with heavy use, for 1.5 years without any signs of wear and tear. I'm here buying another set for baby #2.”

Available Colors: 2


This Set Of Silicone & Stainless Steel Utensils With A Smart, No-Mess Design

Featuring soft, grippy silicone handles with sturdy stainless steel tips, this set of toddler utensils is “perfect for little hands” according to reviewers. The dishwasher-safe utensils feature a unique, heart-shaped raised edge on the underside of the handles to keep the tip (with food) up and off the table, resulting in less mess (hallelujah!). The six-piece set includes three spoons and three forks with gentle edges for safety.

Helpful Review: “My 14 mo is so much happier with these than the small rubber spoons and weird plastic forks we’d been giving her. She’s able to feed herself with ease. I like that there are pieces on the back to prop up the utensil so it doesn’t touch the table when she puts it down. Quality is very nice.”

Available Colors: 6


These Curved Utensils For Righties Or Lefties

Your child may start exhibiting a hand preference around the age of 2, which is what makes these bendable plastic toddler utensils ideal for early self-feeders. They can be bent left, right, or even forward, giving toddlers the most comfortable angle for eating. The suctioned end and included carrying case are a must too.

Helpful Review: “Our granddaughter is still exploring - to determine her hand dominance. These utensils are perfect. They can easily be bent to accommodate her needs. The fork tines are rounded enough to be safe for little ones yet sharp enough to allow her to successfully “poke” her food and eat. The spoon bowl is a nice size - unlike so many baby spoons where food rolls off before entering the child’s mouth. The suctioned base keeps the fork and spoon off questionable surfaces as well as just being plain fun.”

Available Colors: 4


This Classic Children’s Silverware Set

It’s exciting to see your child master self-feeding but before they move onto using adult-sized utensils, this classic children’s silverware set makes for the perfect transition. Made of polished stainless steel, they look just like adult silverware, just smaller and with a cute animal design. They’re super durable and dishwasher-safe, too.

Helpful Review: “These forks and spoons are just perfect for little hands - lightweight but good quality (and easy to clean!). My two-year old loves them: she has mastered the art of self feeding thanks to these utensils!”

Available Colors: Additional children’s flatwear designs available here, including a stylish rose gold and rainbow metal


This Toddler Utensil Set That Even Includes A Knife

The tips of these toddler utensils are made of sturdy nylon and feature sensory bumps just before the silicone handles to help children learn and be aware of how far to insert their utensils into their mouths. This is one of the rare sets that includes a knife, which is perfect for older toddlers and preschoolers becoming more independent with feeding — especially with a little help from you to show them how it’s done. This set is dishwasher safe, too.

Available Colors: 4


Also Nice: These Divided Plates With Suction For Keeping Them On The Table

Kids love to throw stuff, like their food, utensils, and plates. While the first two might be hard to prevent, this toddler plate set is designed to actually stay put. The suction cups are easy enough for an adult to remove but just sticky enough to make it difficult for toddlers. The plates are divided into three compartments to keep food separated and feature walls that make scooping easy. These Stay-Put plates have amassed more than 7,500 perfect five-star ratings to date, so it’s clear they’re doing something right.

Helpful Review: “Got these for my 1-yr old granddaughter; the sectioned plate is perfect for [serving] different [foods] at mealtime, the sides of the bowl are high enough to keep the food in, low enough that she can spoon food out easily.”

Available Colors: 2


Marielle Marquez, Los Angeles-based pediatric occupational therapist at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center.