Pre-Toddler Mealtime Milestones

Learn what milestones to expect your 12-18 month old to reach during mealtime. Find out what will happen with sippy cups, spoons, and family meals.

Pretoddler eating food

The Pre-Toddler age range is a time when you start to give up many things at mealtime and let your “baby” take over.

There are also things that your child doesn’t necessarily want to give up, but you need to facilitate.

In this post, we talk about sippy cups, family mealtime, and spoons.

Sippy Cup

On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise suggests dropping the bottle and move to the sippy at one year old.

This is in line with suggestions from the American Academy of Pediatrics.


One is that a child this age can handle more milk at a time like a sippy offers. Second is that parents tend to offer too much milk with bottles compared to sippys. 

Brayden was not 100% off the bottle and onto sippys until he was 18 months old.

We slowly dropped one meal at a time. We were relatively fast at getting to three a day with the sippy, but kept that fourth feeding with a bottle until he was 18 months. I think I was nervous to let go of it completely. 

As for the reasons stated for dropping the sippy, Brayden A) couldn’t handle a lot of milk in his mouth that well and B) never drank more than his 24 ounces a day no matter where it came from. 

With Kaitlyn, we were 100% off the bottle by a month or two after she turned one. We first focused on making the transition to milk, then the transition from the bottle. 

With McKenna, right at a year, she was 100% off the bottle. This was made easy by the fact that she was never actually on the bottle in the first place. She never really liked the bottle so there was nothing to wean from.

I should mention that I start giving my kids water in sippy cups  starting around age six months old. 

>>>Read: How To Wean Baby from Breast, Bottle, and Formula 

Family Meals

Right around a year, you want to transition to your pre-toddler eating what the family eats at meals.

This means you move off of pureed food and toward whatever the family is eating.

Notice the idea is “transition” and not “drop.” You don’t have to do it all in a day.

I think you will notice that in my personal experience, Brayden is often my latest to accomplish milestones. This is because I just did things later. 

So, with Brayden, we did start the transition around a year, but I do remember still feeding him purees around 14 months. But around 14 months, we did move heavily away from purees and more toward eating whatever we were eating.

Kaitlyn was totally off purees at 12 months.

McKenna was in between. Before 12 months, she was eating what we ate. But with McKenna, I made the majority of her purees at home from scratch.

So I still technically make purees for her sometimes–in that I bake a yam for her, smash it up, and give it to her. But so far as eating with the family, she was totally doing that by 12 months. 

>>>Read: When to Align Baby’s Meals with the Family

Spoon Mastery

When will baby master the spoon?

This is a common concern.

Something to remember about the spoon is your child cannot master the spoon herself until she has had time to practice using it herself.

Practice makes perfect. There are also some fine motor abilities to consider–fine motor skills develop on an individual pace. On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise states the spoon will be mastered somewhere from 20-24 months old. 

I have a post on this topic (see When Does a Toddler Master Spoon Skills). In it, I point out that your definition of “master” is going to influence what age your child really masters the spoon.

In my mind, the kids were pretty good at the spoon around 14 months or so. As I write this, McKenna is currently in that 20-24 month age range and I would say she has been really good at the spoon sooner than 20 months; however, she is not 100% mess-free.

Then again, I am not always 100% mess free…anyway, so I don’t know if I could call her a “master” or not, but I can call her good enough for me.

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4 thoughts on “Pre-Toddler Mealtime Milestones”

  1. DO you think its better to start giving regular milk in the bottle, then transition to sippy? Or start giving breastmilk or formula in the sippy first? My 10 month old drinks water every meal in the sippy, but doesn't seem to want milk when I've offered that.

  2. My 9 month old does much better with a straw cup than he does with a sippy cup. Should I transition into giving breastmilk in a straw cup instead of a sippy? I love this post, I didn't even know there was a pre-toddler wise book!!!! 🙂

  3. Emily, if your baby won't drink milk from a sippy, you might start in the bottle and then work on weaning from that. I have a post on weaning (see weaning section in blog index). It will give you my process.

  4. Tracy, that would be fine.The only thing to be aware of is that the straw sippy cups can get gross–it is harder to clean out the straws. I have a cousin who did milk in the straw sippy cups and she had to replace them often. So just have that in mind.


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