8 ways to get your toddler using cutlery

Introduce your baby to cutlery as soon as your start weaning

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

Okay, so introducing a spoon or fork probably won’t mean the end of spaghetti up the walls. But get started now and your baby will soon get the hang of using cutlery. Whether you decide to wean your baby with purees or go down the baby-led route, they’ll come a time when you’ll want to introduce cutlery. As you can imagine using adult-sized forks isn't the best idea. But fear not, you can get toddler cutlery that your little one will love using.

Top tips for getting your baby to use toddler cutlery

Start with a spoon

‘Introducing a spoon to your little one as early as possible will help him understand that cutlery is a part of mealtimes,’ says Fi Star-Stone, a baby expert and author of The Baby Bedtime Book (G2 Entertainment, £9.99). ‘Do this by offering your baby a spoon to hold right from the start of weaning – usually six months.’

Encouraging your baby to use cutlery is usually a three-stage process. First you introduce a spoon, then a spoon and fork, then finally a fork and knife. ‘As your baby moves onto lumpier foods and has mastered independent (if somewhat messy) feeding – usually somewhere between 10-14 months – introduce a fork and spoon together,’ says Fi.

Don’t stress about mess

‘First off, don't worry about mess. There will be lots when your little one is learning to use cutlery,’ says Fi. Remember, moving from fingers to forks is a gradual process. So, don’t worry too much if your toddler is still scooping up food with his hands as well as a spoon.

Get the right kit

‘Bright colours or even favourite characters can encourage your little one to use cutlery,’ says Fi. ‘Plastic, special-shaped cutlery that he can grip it easily is a good idea.’ And make sure he’s comfy. Buy a child’s booster seat that keeps him strapped in as he’ll be fidgety if he’s uncomfortable or too low this can put them off trying to manage his cutlery.

Practice during playtime

Host a tea party and pretend to feed dolls and teddy bears. ‘You could use dry pasta or rice to ‘feed’ his toys as it’s good developing hand-eye coordination,’ says Fi. ‘You could also get lumps of Play-Doh and encourage your toddler to cut it up using plastic cutlery.’

Accept a mix of fingers and forks

And if he prefers fingers, don't worry. ‘The important thing is he tries a variety of foods rather than have fantastic table manners so early on,’ says Fi.

Get your toddler involved

Encourage your toddler to set the table with you so they become used to cutlery being part of meal times. ‘Talk about what each item is used for – the knife is for cutting, spoon is for puddings, breakfast or soups – as even very young children will quickly pick up the concept of cutlery,’ says Fi.

Lead by example

‘Slice up your child’s food into bite-size chunks and show him how to spear a piece on his fork,’ says Fi. ‘Make sure you sit down to eat with your baby so he can watch you eating with your knife and fork. Your baby will love copying what you do.’ Experiment with lots of textures and techniques. Mashed potato is great for practising cutting and scooping.

Introducing a knife

‘As your little one grows into a toddler (around two years old) and starts eating meals that are more or less the same as yours, you can introduce a knife,’ says Fi. They may not hold the knife and fork together or in the right hands, but let them work it out their own way - soon be using them properly. The general idea is that by the time they are starting at school, they should be able to use a fork all the time and a knife at least some of the time.

Best toddler cutlery sets

We have found the best sets start your bubba on their culinary journey. These sets will make eating more fun and overtime a little less messy.

Price: $24.99

This set has been hailed by the parenting community. The Doddl Cutlery set has been designed specifically to make eating easier for tots. The short, contoured handles are specifically designed for toddlers.

Pros:
Award winning design
Specifically designed for toddlers
Cons:
More expensive than other alternatives on the market
Mother&Baby Writer, Hannah James, Mother of Three, said: " I was blown away with how brilliant this set of cutlery was. Having weaned two children previously, I know how tricky it can be to get them to hold knives and forks. When I tried this set with my youngest son he was able to use them with ease. The chunky handles were much easier for him to coordinate. I love that they can be used by babies as well as older children. My only issue is now all three bicker of which one gets to use this cool cutlery set. They are super easy to clean."

Best cutlery for traveling

When you're eating out it can be difficult to find appropriate utensils for your little one. We love that this set has a travel case to keep their cutlery nice and clean.

Pros:
Great for taking outdoors
Cons:
Hand wash only

One reviewer said: "We love this set. Our daughter uses it as normal when we're at home. When we go out, we put it in the provided case and drop it in the backpack so we can be sure there will be suitable cutlery for her. Wipe it off with a napkin after the meal, pop it back in the case then drop the cutlery in the dishwasher when we get home. Fantastic."

Best stainless steel set
Tommee Tippee Big Kids First Cutlery SetTommee Tippee

Starting your weaning with metal cutlery is a good idea as it allows your child to get used to the feeling of stainless steel from an early age. This set has chunky handles which makes holding the knife, fork and spoon easier.

Pros:
Dishwasher safe
Rounded edges
**Cons:
**Limited colours available

One reviewer said: "The cutlery pieces have all got indents which can help a child place their fingers to hold them properly as they are learning. A great first set as it is very sturdy and great quality. The spoon is also quite wide and deep which helps keep the food in and stop it slipping out compared to plastic spoons!"

Best silicone set
KIDLY Label - 6-Pack Spoons & ForksKidly

Silicone cutlery is very popular as it is soft on your little ones gums. This can make the weaning experience more enjoyable for your little bubs.

Pros:
BPA-free & phthalate-free
Dishwasher safe
Easy to clean
Cons:
Difficult to pick up some foods

One reviewer said: "Starting my weaning journey with my 5MO. My friend had recommended some spoons but I decided on these because they looked better value for money. Weaning is going well, she loves these spoons as she can gnaw on them and I love them because they're flexible so I can scoop up anything that misses the mouth! Plus they're a lovely set of colours!"

Cutlery can make a fantastic practical gift for a christening, naming ceremony or first birthday. This gorgeous set is not only practical but looks amazing.

**Pros:
**Presented in a beautiful gift box
Stainless steel
High quality illustrations

Cons:
Price
One reviewer said: "It is a good quality set, I can tell by the weight the finish and the attention to detail on the safari animals print on the base of each utensil. Toucan, Lion, Elephant and Zebra friends who like to eat different foods. The lion loves meat, the elephant and zebra eat all of the vegetables and toucan just loves all the fruits and nuts for dessert. Seems to work. Anything that makes mealtime easier, especially when they are a little tired (says Nanna) Good luck!"

Best basic pack

Cutlery does not have to cost a lot. If you have multiple children this is a great set for you. This pack includes 15 pieces. They are brightly coloured and easy to wash. It's a thumbs up from us.

Pros:
Large pack
Multiple colours
Cons:
Not as easy to use as some of the other options

One reviewer said: "I thought it was just one colour for £3, but it was 15 pieces for £3!!!!! So much cheaper than anywhere else AND the quality is superb. Can be cleaned in dishwasher and it's easy to hold and use for my 19 month old daughter! Very pleased!"

Cutest design

This set is the sweetest. We are obsessed with how cute this spoon and fork set is. It is available in multiple colours.

Pros:
Cute design
Multiple colour choices
Cons:
No knife

One reviewer said: "My baby loves these and I have recommended them to lots of other parents. The design makes it really easy for baby to hold and to get into their mouth. The ridges also make it so that baby wants to put the spoon and fork into their mouth. I honestly would recommend these 100% if you are doing baby led weaning."

Best bamboo set

Bamboo plates, bowls and cutlery have grown in popularity. This is because they hold high eco-friendly credentials.

Pros:
Lightweight
Soft on little one's gums
BPA free and No toxins

Cons:
Only spoons in this set

One reviewer said: "My baby found it easy to hold the spoon. The silicon material is soft enough for baby’s gums and teeth. The wood was smooth so I was not concerned about any injuries. The silicon parts comes away from the wooden handle so you can wash it properly. The colour of the silicon started to change after one week - food colours (like carrots) will do this."

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