How to Make Toddlers Eat on their Own

By Mary Smith. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Make Toddlers Eat on their Own

As our little ones become more independent, it gets easier and easier to carry out every day tasks, making family life that little bit easier. One of the things that takes up a big chunk of time for parents is mealtimes. Not only do they need to feed their children, but they also have to make sure they finish their plate. Freeing yourself of this daily chore will be great for family life, as it means that all family members are able to eat together, at the same time. Read on as OneHowTo explains how to make toddlers eat on their own.

Steps to follow:

When helping your toddler to eat on their own, the first thing you should do is offer them foods they can eat with their hands. These foods should be cut in small pieces and easy to chew and swallow. If your child is very young you should offer him/her foods that can easily dissolve in their mouths. Once the child grows a bit more you can introduce other foods.

When the child is a bit older and he/she already knows how to grab things with the hands, it might be time to introduce cutlery. To do so, cut up all the food beforehand and give a fork to your toddler. Leave the challenge of cutting up the food using a knife until later on. Using the knife can be dangerous and needs to be done under supervision at all times.

A fork will be enough for your child to start eating alone.

Some of the foods you can give your toddler that are easy to eat alone are:

  • Low-sugar cereals, especially the ones that are round-shaped
  • Small pieces of ripe fruit such as banana, mango or peach
  • Small pieces of soft cooked vegetables such as carrot or sweet potato
  • Pasta
  • Small pieces of bread
  • Pieces of cheese

To overcome any possible opposition from your child when eating , make their favourite dish so that they can do so without your help. They will be able to pick up the fork and eat the food without having to get the help from parents or other members of the family. It will become easier and easier as time goes on.


Eat next to your toddler. The best way they will learn how to do things on their own is by looking at adults doing it. If all the family eats together, the younger child will see what you are doing and will imitate the movements. This will be much more useful than just sitting in front of your child and watching him/her while they're trying to eat. If they have any problem don't stress out and help them. Place their hands in yours and show them how to do it. Having a positive attitude will make toddlers more secure of themselves and therefore they will learn faster.

How to Make Toddlers Eat on their Own - Step 3

From a psychological point of view, to get your child to eat without any help, make them see that eating is an activity that adult and older siblings do. You'll see how your little one soon find the ability to eat by themselves.


Whatever happens, all family members must be on board when getting the child to eat by themselves. This means that no member of the family should back down and end up feeding the toddler. It is crucial that the child does not detect any cracks in your determination, otherwise, they will take advantage of this and will be more likely to get their own way.

How to Make Toddlers Eat on their Own - Step 5

Make it a game when teaching the child to use cutlery. As a general rule, from a year and a half old they can start to use a spoon, and a fork from two years old. Once they have mastered the latter, they can then start to use a knife. However, always make sure to keep a watchful eye on them throughout.


Be prepared for the mess. When toddlers are learning to eat on their own, it is possible that they make a mess with the food and end up staining the tablecloth or their own clothes. To avoid this, put a bib on them, which will minimize the damage. There will be some stains for sure, but placing protective covers and bibs on your children will make it more bearable.

How to Make Toddlers Eat on their Own - Step 7

If you want to read similar articles to How to Make Toddlers Eat on their Own, we recommend you visit our Being a Mom & Dad category.

  • Always be present when toddlers are learning to eat on their own. Watch out for choking and cut the food in very small pieces to avoid this.
  • Always praise your child's efforts. This will encourage him/her to keep trying.

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