Encouraging your toddler to use silverware
Mealtime with Baby is always an adventure. Not only does he keep you guessing about what he will end up putting into his mouth, but it’s also a mystery how it will get there.
When Baby was a younger toddler, it was cute when he used his hands as utensils. Maybe it’s still pretty cute, but as Baby gets older, and he is more able to using silverware to eat, you might start hoping he will start to use that ability a bit more. While he has likely perfected using a spoon, convincing him to eat with a fork can be a bit more of a challenge.
Here are some tips for encouraging Baby to use his 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, he’ll have the chance to watch you using your silverware, and maybe that will make him 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 he 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 his utensils as he 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 him 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 him more effectively pick up the food on his 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 his hands. After all, it’s quicker, and the end result is the same. When he does try to use silverware, be sure to provide lots of support to encourage him 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 he’ll need for when it’s time for those manners, but he isn’t quite there yet.