Encouraging your toddler to use silverware
Mealtime with Baby is always an adventure. Not only does she keep you guessing about what she will end up putting into her mouth, but it’s also a mystery how it will get there.
When Baby was a younger toddler, it was cute when she used her hands as utensils. Maybe it’s still pretty cute, but as Baby gets older, and she is more able to using silverware to eat, you might start hoping she will start to use that ability a bit more. While she has likely perfected using a spoon, convincing her to eat with a fork can be a bit more of a challenge.
Here are some tips for encouraging Baby to use her hands for holding silverware – not just for picking up food directly.
- Set a place at the table: For some families, sitting down to eat together isn’t always in the cards. However, if you eat beside Baby when you can, she’ll have the chance to watch you using your silverware, and maybe that will make her try using theirs, too.
- Model how it’s done: You’re no stranger to eating with a fork, but when you’re dining with Baby, let’s pretend you are. Use slow, exaggerated motions so she can have a good look at how you hold your silverware and bring the food to your mouth. You may also use your hands to guide her utensils as she eats.
- Start with the right foods: Certain foods (here’s looking at you, peas) can be difficult to keep on your fork. When Baby is still learning, stick with foods that are easy to keep on a fork once they’ve been pierced, like meat or cheese. This will give her the chance to practice without getting frustrated.
- Choose silverware wisely: Toddler silverware should allow for a wide grip, and should easily pierce pieces of food. For Baby’s tableware, look for forks with metal prongs as opposed to plastic, which will let her more effectively pick up the food on her plate.
- Be a cheerleader: With foods that are harder to eat, like noodles, it’s normal for Baby to get frustrated, and to gravitate toward using her hands. After all, it’s quicker, and the end result is the same. When she does try to use silverware, be sure to provide lots of support to encourage her to keep trying. Practice makes perfect, even if it does take a bit of extra time!
Learning to use silverware is an art, not an exact science, but it’s one that most toddlers master before too long. Now isn’t the time to worry too much about table manners – Baby is learning the skills she’ll need for when it’s time for those manners, but she isn’t quite there yet.