The 8 Best Toddler Utensils For Self-Feeding Success, According To A Pediatric Occupational Therapist

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by Lauren Beach
Asian girl eating in the living room

There is nothing more exciting for a toddler than graduating from their soft baby spoon to their very own set of big-kid cutlery. The best toddler utensils offer young eaters the first step towards independence at the dinner table with thoughtfully designed features to make eating easier as they learn how to master scooping, spearing, and getting food into their mouths. I reached out to Pediatric Occupational Therapist Emma Hubbard for advice on what to look for when shopping for the best toddler utensils for self feeding.

The Expert

Emma Hubbard is a pediatric occupational therapist with over 12 years of clinical experience. She received her bachelor's degree in occupational therapy from the University of Newcastle. She is also the founder of Brightest Beginning, a website and YouTube channel dedicated to helping new parents on topics related to child development, feeding, sleep, toilet training, and more.

When Should Toddlers Start Using Utensils?

Around the time babies turn 1, you can introduce the independent use of a spoon, although it will take some time for them to master self-feeding skills. Hubbard says that by age 2, most toddlers should be able to use a spoon with “minimal spillage” and that they can begin learning how to use a fork. As for knives, Hubbard says 5-year-olds are ready to “spread and cut” with them, though toddler sets sometimes include blunt or rounded knives for practice. She clarifies that children can begin using a knife and fork in concert to cut up food at age 7.

What To Look For When Shopping For Toddler Utensils

When it comes to finding the perfect toddler utensil set for your tiny gourmand, Hubbard says there are a few things to keep in mind. She says it’s important that handles are easy to grip for still-developing toddler hands and she recommends cutlery with shorter, more cylindrical handles. These kinds of handles allow “the toddler [...] to use less finger strength” and that makes it easier for little hands to hold onto the utensils longer.

She recommends forks with “curved outer tines [to] ensure that the toddler doesn’t accidentally poke themselves in the cheek.” She says stainless steel forks make spearing food easier because plastic tines can require more force and bend, which is why the list below only includes models with stainless steel prongs or heavy-duty plastic that won’t bend under pressure. Hubbard suggests buying spoons with a bowl (aka the eating end) that is “deep but narrow.” Wider spoon bowls can require a child to tilt the spoon, which (you guessed it) leads to spilling.

How Can Parents Help Their Toddler Learn To Use Utensils?

Hubbard says there are three key things to keep in mind when teaching your toddler to use cutlery: choosing child-sized cutlery, giving them non-slippery foods that won’t fall apart when stabbed with a fork, and showing them how to use cutlery during meals. She says it’s crucial for kids to “practice, practice, practice!”

She also suggests encouraging toddlers to engage in play that will further develop their fine motor skills, like “posting activities, playing with Duplo and blocks, playing with play dough, drawing, painting, etc.”

With all that in mind, it’s time to get ready to set the table — for the whole family. Ahead you’ll find the best toddler utensils for all kinds of tasty bites.


The Expert-Approved Set That Comes With A Travel Case

The OXO Tot On-the-Go fork and spoon set is a hit with parents and is one Hubbard specifically recommends, saying it’s a “great option” for toddlers. The BPA-free plastic set includes a toddler-size spoon and fork with rounded tines, and it comes with a handy travel case that snaps shut and is perfect for slipping in a diaper bag. The chunky, curved handles have a nonslip grip and a flat spot on the back to prevent them from rolling off the table. Measuring just over 4 inches in length, these utensils are easy for small hands to maneuver. Plus, this set is dishwasher-safe on the top rack for easy cleanup.

Helpful Review: “Perfect for toddler hands and mouths! Bought this for my 14 month old daughter who is very interested in feeding herself. These utensils make it very easy for her to grasp and practice. We transitioned from infant spoons to this and she is doing great. The case also make it very convenient to travel with. [...]”

Recommended Age: 12 months old & up | Available Colors: 1 (White/Teal)


This Character Utensil Set With Toddler-Friendly Features

This bright yellow Bluey fork and spoon set features blunt stainless steel eating surfaces and ergonomic, rounded, BPA-free plastic handles that are 5.8-inches long. The outer tines of the forks gently curve inward and the spoons’ bowls have enough depth for kids to get a decent mouthful of food. The utensils are dishwasher-safe on the top rack.

Helpful Review: “My youngest loves Bluey and also these utensils. Probably going to have to get more eventually. Durable, non pointed forks so no worry about poking themselves. Would recommend.”

Recommended Age: 3 years old & up | Available Styles: Bluey (featured), Frozen, Minnie, Paw Patrol, Spider-Man, Baby Shark and LOL Surprise


An Affordable Utensil Set With Extra-Grippy Handles (And My Personal Favorite)

The highly rated Nuby stainless steel utensil set is an affordable BPA-free option that’s made to last. My girls loved the bright colors and they worked fantastic for self feeding. In fact, these outlasted both of their toddlerhoods and are still knocking around in our cutlery drawer for when we have guests with younger children. They’re dishwasher-safe on the top rack and have grippy nubs on the ergonomic handles that are well-suited for young toddler hands — they’re intended for kids as young as 12 months old. They are made of stainless steel and the spoon is on the narrow side, offering a smaller bite for little mouths. The stainless steel tines on the fork spear well but are blunted and rounded for safety. While no dimensions are provided for this pick, I can attest that they are easy for little hands to hold.

Helpful Review: “I've tried a few utensils for my one year old son. So far these are my favorite. He can hold them easily. He hasn't quite got the hang of feeding himself yet, but these are great for learning. Also spoon is shaped well for little ones. I enjoy that it looks a whole lot like a real spoon and fork that he can get use to for later down the road. Easy to clean and safe. No issues so far.”

Recommended Age: 12 months old & up | Available Colors: Blue/Green (featured), Pink/Purple


A Stainless Steel Set That Blends Right In With The Family’s Flatware

This polished stainless steel toddler cutlery set lets your kid feel like part of the family with their (almost) matching cutlery. The set is top-rack dishwasher safe, and each piece has an ergonomic handle; the slightly sharpened fork tines let toddlers easily spear food, while the rounded edges help keep food on the fork. The blunt knife gives younger children the opportunity to practice cutting soft foods or smear butter and other spreads. The pieces of this set are all around 6 inches long.

Helpful Review: “This is the perfect option if you are trying to stay away from plastic utensils for your toddler but are not ready to introduce them to metal forks and knives. I'm super thrilled that they've been introduced. Frankly, it's also nice to have your kids using utensils that [look good] -- she's eating like mommy and daddy when she's using these.”

Recommended Age: 18 months old & up | Available Colors: 1 (Stainless Steel)


These Popular Utensils Made From Recycled Plastic

These colorful toddler utensils are made from recycled milk jugs, and they’re an absolute parent fave with an impressive 4.8-star rating on Amazon and over 7,000 reviews. The plastic is free of BPA, phthalates, PVC, and melamine. The 5.8-inch long utensils are dishwasher-safe and come in a rainbow of different shades. They are thick and sturdy enough for daily use, and they stack neatly in a drawer. The spoon has a unique, almost square-shaped bowl that is deep and a perfect fit for toddler mouths, and the forks’ tines are blunted but still effective for spearing softer foods. And with four pairs in a set, this pick is a great value pack, too.

Helpful Review: “My toddler absolutely loves her spoons and forks. The squared shape of the spoons makes them the perfect size to fit in her mouth and they are really easy for her hands to hold. The depth of them allows her to feed herself without dropping any of her food on route to her mouth. The forks are also really easy for her to use and for perfectly in her mouth without being too big.”

Recommended Age: Toddlers/Children (according to brand) | Available Colors: 39


An Affordable Toddler Silverware Set With A Knife

Here’s a toddler cutlery set Hubbard recommends for anyone looking for one that includes a knife. It’s a great value, with two sets of spoons, forks, and knives, and each piece is dishwasher-safe with stainless steel food surfaces and BPA-free ergonomic handles. The 6.5-inch knife is gently rounded for safety, the outer tines of the fork curve inward to prevent injury, and the spoons are perfectly toddler-sized with deep bowls. (Both the spook and fork measure 5.5 inches long.) It’s another fave of parents and boasts an overall 4.8-star rating with over 6,000 reviews.

Helpful Review: “I was looking for something that was a step up from baby utensils but not too big, and these are great. Preschooler has some fine motor delays and the handles are a good size for her to hold on to, while the spoon and fork are larger than baby size but still smaller than regular utensils so she gets the right amount of food. The fork tines are also less rounded- not sharp, but better able to stab pieces of food than others so she doesn’t get frustrated. We also just started using the little knife to practice cutting a banana and it’s a good size for that too.”

Recommended Age: 18 months old & up | Available Colors: Blue/Green (featured), Pink/Purple


These Silicone & Stainless Steel Utensils With A Less-Mess Feature

This set of Elk and Friends kids' silverware with silicone handles is made using stainless steel with soft, ergonomic silicone handles that are nicely rounded for an easy grip with an embossed forest scene on the fronts. With three forks and three spoons, each one features a tiny heart on the bottom that functions as a clever rest on the handle to prevent rolling and to keep food off of the table. Each pick is 5.5 inches long and dishwasher-safe, and the sets come in variations of hues including soft pastels, muted colors, and brighter ones.

Helpful Review: “All the children and their friends, ages 1.5 - 7 absolutely adore this set, so we had to get one more. We love how every little detail has been thought through, even the little heart at the bottom the keeps the utensils from touching the table. Those are so awesome. Overall the silverware is easy to use for the toddler and cool enough for the 7 year old. Wish I knew about these sooner!”

Recommended Age: Babies/Toddlers (according to brand) | Available Colors: Sage/Misty Blue/Gray (featured), Green/Orange/Blue, Pink/Teal/Blue, Plum/Lilac/Lemon, Plum/Sage/Misty Blue, Purple/Pink/Teal


A Cutlery Set With Choke Guards For Younger Tots

If these look familiar from when your toddler was a baby, this next-stage feeding set from grabease has the same level of quality and thoughtfully designed features you’ve come to expect from the brand. This toddler cutlery set has a stainless steel-tined fork, spoon, and knife with choke guard collars on the handles that also act as rests to keep them form rolling off the table. The rounded, ergonomic handles have special grooves to guide little fingers into proper placement and they are free of lead, phthalates, and BPA. The set is dishwasher-safe and each piece is just over 4 inches long, making them the perfect size for younger toddlers.

Helpful Review: “Our granddaughter uses these every day. She learned very quickly how to eat with a fork and spoon using these.”

Recommended Age: 18 months old & up | Available Colors: Gray (featured), Blush, Teal


Also Nice: A Set Of Plates & Bowls Designed To Make Mealtime Easier

If you’re looking for a set of toddler plates and bowls to go with their new big kid cutlery, this Munchkin Splash four-piece toddler dining set is a parent favorite with over 10,000 five-star ratings. The deep walls are sloped to help toddlers scoop up food with ease, and the BPA-free set is microwave- and dishwasher-safe. There are grippy channels on the bottom to help prevent toddlers from accidentally knocking them over, and the plates have dividers for the my-peas-can’t-touch-my-pasta crowd.

Helpful Review: “We have had these a few weeks and I am so glad we bought them! We have three littles so things tend to be Color coded around here. We have gone through a lot of the character melamine divided plates that all seem to crack and chip. These are in a class of their own! They are much thicker and have a ridge on the bottom that is non skid so it’s not as easy for new self feeders to slide off the table. We have one kid who insists their food not touch and this does the trick.”

Recommended Age: 6 months old & up | Available Colors: Blue/Green (featured), Pink/Purple


Emma Hubbard, pediatric occupational therapist and founder of Brightest Beginning