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10 Tips For Developing Utensil Skills

10 Tips For Developing Utensil Skills

Using utensils take more fine motor control and coordination than most toddlers have. In fact some children will not master the use of cutlery until the age of four. With a little planning, patience and positive attitude parents can successfully introduce and encourage their toddler to use their utensils. Teaching your child to use utensils will increase motor development and aid in progressing their pincer grasp.

  1. Evaluate your child's readiness. Many children will show an interest in self-feeding from 9-14 months, but it will be a bit longer before they have the coordination to actually feed themselves with a spoon.

  2. Allow your toddler to hold a spoon. While you are spoon-feeding them. Toddlers who wish to spoon feed themselves will wage a power struggle over the spoon you are using.  To avoid this, offer your toddler a spoon. Try swapping spoons with your toddler after each bite.

  3. Accept the mess.  As your toddler begins to learn to self-feed, things will get messy. Try using a floor mate under the high chair, or place your child in a smock or shirt free!

  4. Get the right gear! You will need a toddler sized plate, a spoon and a good bib!

  5. Bib, Spoon and Plate. Bib - with a deep pocket to catch the food that does not quite make it to your toddler’s mouth!  Spoon – rubber, shallow rather than deep, with a short handle that will enable your child to grip it better.  Plate – a rubber edge plate/bowl that stays in place.

  6. Practice during playtime. Host a tea party and pretend to feed dolls and teddies. Praise your child! ‘aren’t you feeding your friends well!’ Be sure to use spoons that are safe for pretend play.

  7. Stick with semi sticky foods. Oatmeal, sweet potato and other foods that will stay on the spoon will help develop your toddler’s self-feeding skills successfully. Food that easily falls off a spoon will only cause frustration as your child is learning.

  8. Be patient! Learning to use a spoon is a process. As your child grows their coordination and fine motor skills will grow with them.

  9. Model good manners! Your toddler is watching you. Be sure to use your utensils properly. Model the proper way to hold a spoon and the amount of food to put on it.

  10. Praise your child’s efforts. Encourage your child’s progress by praising early attempts at using a spoon. Comments like ‘good job holding your spoon, you're eating just like mummy!’ will go along way to help build your child’s self-confidence.

At Mummy Cooks we advise giving your baby a soft tip spoon from 6 months so they can learn to feed themselves from an early age. 

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