Choosing cutlery that'll help them master their table manners can be as confusing as assembling flat-packed furniture (groan). I mean, when do you switch Baby Led Weaning (BLW) kids from fingers to spoons? And what shape or material is easiest to hold? Fear not, here’s what we've found best at each stage - and how to get them comfortable using it.
For starters - 6-12 months
Many 6-month-olds will be more interested in exploring first tastes rather than holding cutlery and the hand-to-mouth concept is probably still a bit beyond them. If you're going down the BLW route, it’ll be all about their fingers, in any case. However, it's never early to get them used to a spoon - even BLW babies will need to learn how to eat cereal and soup at some point.
So, set them off in the right direction by lining up a couple of baby spoons to get them used to the idea, even if all they do is pick them up. Choose ones that are soft enough not to hurt their gums, if they decide to bite down on them, like these Munchkin White Hot Safety Spoons. Made of soft silicone, there are four in a pack, so you can give them a couple to hold while you do the 'here comes the choo-choo train' routine.
If you're on the puree food journey, halt the frustration of food falling off when they hit the spoon to-mouth-stage (around 7 months) with these Cognikids Weaning Dip Spoons. The textured surface makes them easy to grip, so all they have to do is dip their delicious mush into the textured surface and find their mouth 😱.
Psst, here’s a tip. Keep a ready supply of finger food to hand at this stage. That way, you can keep them topped up and not starving if they keep missing their mouths. Hangriness isn’t something to take lightly and can derail their progress.
Mini munchers - 16-24 months
Ok, so they’ve successfully got comfy with a spoon. Well, at least the cereal’s going into their mouths - a bit. Now’s the time to bring out the big guns. Introducing: the fork. Most toddlers will be able to have a go at this from around 16 months to two-years-old (my 17-month-old can now stab her food with hers). However, they will also still dip in and out of using their fingers too - especially if using a fork proves to be too slow. Thankfully, there are some ways you can keep the spag-bol-covered fingers to a minimum. This b.box First Cutlery Set features a fork that’s been ergonomically designed to fit the size and shape of small mouths, plus an angled handle to make stabbing food easier.
The Grabease Cutlery Set reimagines standard fork and spoon shapes, with ergonomic handles, plus a flower-shaped choke prevention shield, so you can have peace of mind while your independent tots suss their spoon and fork actions.
Cutlery geniuses - Pre-schoolers
So they’ve been practising with a fork and spoon, and finger eating has taken a backseat (phew). It’s time to move onto the next stage... introducing them to the hard stuff. Bye, bye 'baby' cutlery, hello stainless steel and kid-proof knives. We know this can be a little challenging, so keep their confidence high with this clever doddl 3 Piece Cutlery Set with shorter, ergonomic handles to make controlling them easier.
When they’ve conquered those, it's time for their own 'grown up' set. This super cool Yummy Plus Easy Grip Cutlery Set by hip brand Done By Deer is a always a real hit and VIIDA's Soufflé Antibacterial Stainless Steel Fork & Spoon Set is also easy-to-handle and made from super-hygienic antibacterial stainless steel.
And here’s a little extra tip. Plates will slip when your pre-schooler’s trying to force that knife to cut. From experience, this can cause tantrums. Stop plates and tears falling with a non-slip placemat. It’ll be worth it. Promise.
So there it is, the ultimate guide to cutlery for each stage. Good luck, and remember, they may not get it straight away, but eventually it’ll click. You just need patience, encouragement - and wine 🤣.