When should we get cracking with cutlery?

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As with most things baby related, at some point it dawned on us that our son had got over the first few hurdles of being introduced to solid food and that he might be ready to start using cutlery.

This came to the fore when my son was about 17 months and we had enjoyed a long and happy afternoon with fellow NCT mums, watching the babies playing and chatting about anything that popped into our heads (usually along the grounds of ‘my baby is doing this weird thing, anyone else?’). One mum had started using cutlery with her baby and we had a little (fairly messy!) demo and I went home and excitedly told my husband that I thought Charlie would be ready for ‘big kid’ cutlery. Several months earlier I had bought everything I needed (JoJo sell a gorgeous collection of the Very Hungry Caterpillar cutlery set with matching plate, bowl and cup). It has to be said that my husband was sceptical, but I was gung-ho and ready for cutlery action.

Charlie and I didn’t get off to the best start. My son was extremely mystified as to why I was giving him the spoon and so for the first few meal times we just played the extremely fun (for him, not me) game of ‘drop the spoon and make mummy pick it up’ (with my other half silently smirking in the background, and saying ‘not saying a word’ with hands up in front of him when I would glower in his direction). We then graduated, after lots of over emphatic eating from spoon demonstrations, to where Charlie would use a spoon but get the food in his hair or nose or eye (he wasn’t fussy).

Next step was fierce possession of his spoon (with random dropping on the floor, just to keep me on my toes). It got to the point where I had six spoons for one meal time as I found it handy to have one myself, one for him and several for the floor.

Anyway, we survived the experience and now we are approaching his second birthday and he can use a spoon and fork very well. We have yet to graduate to a knife, but we’re in no rush.

Here are a few handy hints to help new parents in the cutlery challenge:

  • As with all things with food and weaning, introducing cutlery should be fun and they should be allowed to experiment with it. It takes the stress out for the parents, if you are prepared, so a splash mat and picking a convenient time of day to get mucky is a good plan.
  • Don’t feel you need to introduce cutlery for your baby to use at every meal. I found it great to give him his own spoon at the evening meal, as he could make as much mess as he wanted and then I’d plonk him in the bath.
  • Certain foods are much easier to eat with cutlery than others. Weetabix, porridge, and yoghurt are all foods that stick well to the spoon, whereas soup can be very frustrating. Pasta twirls are great when using a fork and cutting your baby’s food up into stab-able pieces makes it much less frustrating. I also often pre-speared his food, if he wasn’t finding it easy.
  • As I mentioned earlier, having plenty of spoons on hand is great and make sure that the cutlery you give your child is small and easy to manoeuvre. The JoJo ‘first cutlery set’ is an ideal size to start your little ones off with and a collection of plastic spoons like JoJo’s ‘six pack weaning spoons’ are a must.

I would love to hear your experiences of introducing cutlery to your little ones and any top tips you would like to pass on to other parents would be fab. If you are about to enter this next phase of weaning, good luck and remember to stock up on spoons!

Rosie Wright runs weaning workshops for first time parents in Brighton.

Twitter: @rosieweaning

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