Tips for encouraging silverware use

Teaching Baby to eat with utensils isn’t as urgent for most parents as sleep training or potty training, but it’s still an important step toward helping her become a big kid! Baby will probably be eating with her fingers or letting you feed her for the first year or so of her life, but at around 18 months old, she will be ready for utensils to join the party, if she hasn&;t already started grabbing for them. Helping your toddler use utensils is going to make mealtime a brand-new activity for both of you.

Use toddler utensils

To get Baby started, try a set of utensils made specifically for toddlers. They’ll be a better fit for her hands and have a wider grip, making it easier for Baby to learn how to maneuver food from her plate to her mouth. Toddler utensils also come in bright colors and patterns, making them just a bit more fun that your average flatware.

Start small

You might be tempted to start serving Baby food similar to what you’re eating, but starting with small amounts of simple food is probably the best approach. Less food will be less intimidating for Baby, and it will be easier for you to clean up if things go awry. If Baby only has six pieces of fruit to stab with her fork, it will be easier for her to succeed in her mission. Similarly, start out with just forks and spoons – leave knives for when Baby has totally mastered the small stuff.

Be choosy

Some foods will be easier than others for Baby to eat with utensils. To help with spoon usage, try sticky foods like oatmeal or yogurt. With forks, start serving softer foods like boiled vegetables or fruit. And while you’re being selective about the food you put on Baby‘s plate, be just as selective with where you put that plate. You’ll want Baby in an area that’s easy to clean up, maybe with a placemat you can wipe down after the meal. If you’re not worrying about Baby making a mess, she will have more freedom as she learns this newfangled way of eating.

Eat together

You’ll be using a little bit of your meal time to supervise and guide Baby, but having her eat at the table with you will make her feel like a big kid who is ready to eat with the grown-ups! It will also give you the opportunity to lead by example as Baby watches you use your utensils.

Stay positive

Using utensils is now second nature for you, so it can be frustrating when Baby doesn’t get it right away. Remember to praise her even when things don’t go exactly as planned. You want Baby to be excited about using utensils and eating on her own, so try to find things that she does really well and encourage her to do them again!

If you’d like, you can even serve Baby a special treat for her to practice her utensil use with. It might be a lot easier for her to get a grip on her food when that food is cake!

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