Getting to grips with cutlery can take a bit of time for little ones but with the right tools they can soon master how to scoop up even the most rolly of peas!
In this guide to getting started with cutlery we give you an idea of what to expect and when from your little one when it comes to mastering cutlery skills, as well as some top tips and fun games to practice.
But first, it’s good to know why having the right tools for the job is important. Suzanne, founder of TUM TUM and mum to Izzy and Mia, says, “When my girls were very little we struggled to find decent children’s cutlery that wasn’t either scaled down version of adults cutlery or gimmicky with impractical, slippy handles which were just too difficult to hold.
We saw our girls get frustrated and cross (hang-ry may be the term nowadays!) as no matter how hard they tried, food kept falling off the cutlery and on the floor. We set out to design our own cutlery range taking into account little hands for easy gripping and the right angles for scooping and cutting to create sets that stopped the frustration and made mealtimes more enjoyable. Using our cutlery, we watched our girls learn to eat independently and feel proud of themselves for mastering this tricky skill.”
Mia still uses the cutlery today and here she is with our TUM TUM Trainee Cutlery Set with Grippy Sleeves
Product shown: Tum Tum Double-Ended Swapsie Spoons
Many children will show an interest in using cutlery from about 9 months, but it will be a little longer before they have the coordination to actually feed themselves with a spoon. A good way to get started is to start with two spoons – one for your baby to hold and one for you to feed with. Try loading spoons with sticky foods such as porridge or mashed potato which will make it to the mouth without spilling!
It’s also a good idea to keep lots of finger foods on hand so that they don’t get too frustrated if they keep missing their mouth. The cleverly designed TUM TUM Swapsie spoons are double-ended so that baby can eat from either end which also helps to keep frustration at bay!
Add a fork
Product shown: TUM TUM All Day Cutlery Set
Once your baby starts to get to grips with using a spoon you can introduce a fork and spoon together. Your little one can use the fork for stabbing food – most children will be able to have a good go at this from around 18 months but will probably still keep using fingers too if they are impatient and hungry!
Product shown: TUM TUM Trainee Cutlery Set with Grippy Sleeves
This is a particularly tricky tool to master, so introduce a knife slowly and use with soft foods such as mashed potato to begin with. Your child may well be at least four years old before they master this so be prepared to still be cutting up difficult foods such as meat for months and even years to come!
The TUM TUM Trainee Cutlery Sets come complete with removable grippy sleeves which are perfect for helping little hands ‘hold’ the cutlery securely when first starting out with. The grippy sleeves can then be removed when your child wants to be ‘grown up’. The knife has been designed to be not too sharp, not too blunt and at the correct cutting angle whilst the bowl-shaped fork keeps tricky foods like peas from rolling around the plate.
Top tips for getting to grips with cutlery
- Make it fun! Choose bright and colourful designs to encourage your little one to use cutlery
- Show the way! Try to sit down and eat with your baby as often as you can so that they can watch you eating with a knife and fork
- Practice through play. Play Doh is great to practice with, why not create some fun pretend foods and have a teddy bears picnic!
- Don’t stress about the mess! There is no disguising that weaning is a messy business and introducing cutlery brings a whole new dimension. Your baby will alternate between using their fingers and using their cutlery and everything in between!
- Boost manual dexterity. Help your child to get the hang of cutlery with a range of activities that help to develop manual dexterity and strengthen hands such as working with Play Doh, playing with jigsaws or construction bricks and digging and scooping in a sandpit.
- Give lots of praise! Encourage your child’s progress with lots of positive comments which will really help to build your baby’s confidence.
Remember that as with any skill, learning to use cutlery can vary widely from child to child. Be patient, have fun and be prepared for lots of mess along the way!
Take a look at our full TUM TUM toddler and child cutlery range – we have a lots of fun & bright designs that your little ones will love combined with super clever design features to make mastering the art of cutlery that little bit easier!