Ask An Expert: How to Cut Food When Baby Is Learning to Eat

By Melanie Potock

Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLPis an international speaker on the topic of feeding babies, toddlers and school age kids. She is the co-author of the award-winning Raising a Healthy Happy Eater: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating (2015) and Baby Self-Feeding: Solutions for Introducing Purees and Solids to Create Lifelong Healthy Eating Habits (2016). The tips in her cookbook for parents & kids, Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes (2018) are based on the latest research and Melanie’s 20 years of success as a pediatric feeding therapist. Melanie’s children’s book You are Not an Otter takes preschoolers on a food adventure, exploring all the ways that various animals eat! Melanie’s advice has been shared in a variety of television and print media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Parents Magazine.  Contact her at for more articles, professional tips, and helpful videos to raise your adventurous eater and follow Mel on Instagram and Facebook too! 

Why a cube?  (I knew that was going to be your first question!)  Tiny cubes are one of my favorite shapes for babies who are just learning to eat!  Here’s why:

Cubes are much easier to feel in the mouth. The edges are easier to detect, helping baby learn to move food about to be smushed & swallowed.

Cubes are tiny – pea-sized in fact.  That’s small enough to be squished easily by the tongue when it compresses against the palate and gumlines to swallow.

Cubes are easier to rake up until baby begins to develop the pincer grasp.  The pincer grasp isn’t mature till after 12 months of age & starts with a raking motion.  But, you’ve got to give baby something to rake to help boost along that skill.  Just a few pieces at a time is best.  Too many & baby has too much food in that little fist.

Cubes fit nicely on beginner utensils, like the forks created by @grabease.  You can preload the fork with a tiny cube & help baby learn to stab the fork into small squares as he matures.  

But what if you can’t cut it into a cube?  Then give it a squish or try a strip.  

Which one to do first?  There’s no reason to offer a strip or a cube or even a utensil in a certain order. In over 20 years of pediatric feeding, my advice has been to read your baby’s cues, offer each whenever you can & just go read your baby’s cues.  Offering all different safe shapes means you’re offering baby the opportunity to explore & learn…and that’s what makes you awesome!