Parents always seem to be asking how they can get their babies to start using cutlery and improve their use. I was really pleased the way N picked it up, and although I didn’t really force anything with him, he was given every opportunity to use cutlery right from the word go with weaning.
Here’s my tips on how to help children learn to use cutlery.
1, always give a spoon
We did baby led weaning. There’s several posts I wrote about our journey through weaning, so feel free to explore if you want to know more. He was ready to start just after 5 months old, but when he hit 5 months before he was actually looking for food, I used to sit him on the floor to play with spoons while I was cooking. He’d quite happily put the spoon the right way into his mouth without me really telling him, so he must have been watching us at some point to know.
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Because we gave him normal food we started with sticks of cooked veg and bits of fruit. For breakfast he tended to have porridge or maybe a bit of weetabix so I just pre-loaded spoons for him. He wasn’t (and still isn’t) keen on getting his hands messy and that, plus being a hungry baby meant he was soon used to picking up the spoons and managing to work out which way up would avoid losing food off a spoon.
2, give multiple spoons
The next stage was scooping and that took a long time as he knew he could use his hands a lot quicker. He always wanted 2 spoons which I think has helped him get used to using both hands and practising coordination. By 12 months he was much better with a spoon, and by 13 months was eating his way through a whole plate of food scooping up his food.
3, provide spoons for playtimes
Although he was never really fussy about drawing or painting (he gets bored of it quickly), I think the way he likes to move items using spoons and containers from one place to another really helped with controlling cutlery. He likes scooping water beads* from one jug to a cup and back again. They’re small like food, and using a spoon really helps him being steady even though they do have a tendency to roll everywhere if he misses the container.
4, Provide a fork
At a year old, I put a fork alongside his plate and he started using that as well. It used to annoy me as he’d be trying to scoop with it, when as an adult you can see he’d get on better with stabbing for some foods. But he got there. By 18 months he was happily preferring to use a fork, although the spoon was never far away.
5, Introduce a knife to playtimes as well as meals
Now it’s time to start giving him a knife I think. He sometimes tries to push food onto his fork with the spoon (if not his fingers), so as long as he learns he shouldn’t be putting the knife in his mouth, I think it can’t be too early to start learning.
He does like to play with his playdoh – no cookie cutters for us or making shapes. He turns his nose up at those suggestions, and instead just wants a knife so he can chop the playdoh up! He’s a bit erratic, preferring to use the knife upside down at the moment, but hopefully the playdoh skills will pay off and he’ll not try to eat off the knife.
[bctt tweet=”Get babies using cutlery from an early age…introduce them at play times” username=”etusty”]
My view when asked, is give cutlery early on. It doesn’t matter if they don’t use it, but it’s there as an option, and if they’re eating with adults or other children using cutlery, then they’ll pick it up fairly quickly.