You know introducing cutlery to your toddler is going to be messy!
Whether you decide to wean your toddler with purees or go down the baby-led weaning route, all the effort you put in now will be worth it in the long run.
Tips on getting toddlers to use cutlery
Here are some useful tips on how to get your toddler to start using cutlery.
1. First steps of using cutlery
Introducing a spoon as soon as your toddler starts weaning will help them soon understand that cutlery is a part of mealtimes.
As they progress onto more solid foods you can introduce a spoon and fork, then a knife and fork when they are a little older.
Buying kids cutlery in bright colours or even with their favourite characters can encourage your toddler to use cutlery.
When they are starting out, your toddler may find that special-shaped, moulded cutlery is easier to hold.
2. Don’t stress about the mess!
Don’t stress! There will be LOTS of mess when your toddler is learning to use cutlery.
Moving from fingers to forks is a gradual process and to begin with there will be a mix of fingers and cutlery and scooping up food with their hands as well as their spoon.
The important thing at this stage is that your toddler tries a variety of foods, rather than have amazing table manners so early on.
3. Practice eating with cutlery
During playtime you can help your toddler practice using cutlery.
Perhaps host a tea party and pretend to feed their dolls and soft toys using either toy or everyday cutlery.
Dried pasta and rice make good toy food, or encourage them to cut up small pieces of play dough and shape it into pretend food for their toys.
4. Lead by example
Toddlers love to copy, so sit down together to eat so they can watch how you use your cutlery.
Cut up your toddler's food into bite-size pieces and show them how to spear a piece onto their fork or scoop it up with their spoon.
Experiment with lots of food textures.
As your toddler gets older, encourage them to set the table with you and talk about what each item of cutlery is used for and how it is laid out on the table.
They may not be able to hold a knife and fork together or in the right hands, but with lots of encouragement, your toddler will get there.
By the time they start school, they should be able to use a fork all of the time and a knife at least some of the time.