Great question; thank you for posting it. It motivated me to put one of my own question; how to encourage my 80 year old mom to use a smart phone?
I have 2 year old twins and am going through this with one of them. One of my girls uses her fork and her spoon just fine. My other girl struggles a bit. She's starting to learn but still prefers to use her hands.
I just keep encouraging her to use her fork and spoon when I see her using her hands. I'll pick up her fork, put some food on it and encourage her to use it. I tell her 'no' in a gentle way when I see her using her hands.
I'm not forcing it though because I think that would be worse. Just keep encouraging and eventually they'll learn.
I enjoyed reading your comment thanks, and I think my Miss almost 2 is left-handed, so maybe I've been giving her cuttlery to her in the wrong hand making things more difficult for her when using them!
A couple more tips and thoughts. Like other people have said, they do learn by watching us. So keep encouraging gently and letting her watch you. She will learn. The fork is easier to learn. With the spoon, I sometimes show her how to guide it.
We always just gave it to them and let them figure it how by trying and watching us. It may be a bit messy for a while but they do learn!
Just have them available at every meal...eventually they will mimic how you eat and try themselves getting better at it each time. Of course they will also still smear the mashed sweeet potatos all over their face an scream with laughter while throwing it at your head....but eventually it will be more fun for them to eat with the utensils instead of using them as stabbing devices!
What a fun question! The ease at which a parent can get a toddler to use a fork and spoon varies by the child. Remembering that he or she will learn it when ready if you offer it early helps keep things in focus; they won't get to 20 years old and not know how to use a fork. Putting pressure on anything creates a battle and can prolong the process.
Instead, have fun with it and find your inner zen when giving our the fork and spoon - it will be messy, exploratory and they will make it fun for themselves. Always have it sitting there next to them during meals and when there is a success in using it, give LOTS of attention. What are a toddler's goals in life? Two common goals are to explore the unexplored and to get mom and dad's attention because it's so darn fun. If a fork is there, he will try to do what you are doing and when he does, give him a smile and a "you did it!" now and then.
Be sure to not only show the toddler how, give him tactile assistance (hold his hand) to his mouth a few time if he will let you in the beginning if he is struggling. The motion of getting food to mouth on an extension (a fork makes it farther away!) will take some time and practice. At the beginning, he is motor-planning the motion, which basically means that he must think about it in order to accomplish it. As he practices, he will create neuro memories and be able to perform the action automatically. When's the last time you had to focus and really think about getting food to your mouth? Probably a long time ago - now, you can carry on a conversation, pick up something in your other hand, and perform other actions simultaneously. The point is, don't expect success right away because little brains need to develop by DOING.
Another tip is to put favorite foods on the end of the fork. If the reward of getting fork to mouth is a disliked food, kiss cutlery use goodbye. My kids LOVED eating bananas with forks because they loved bananas. Be sure that it's bite sized though because taking a bite out of the food on a fork is pretty difficult for little ones.
Put it out at every meal and make a show of how special getting to use a fork is and don't stress - like anything else with kids, when the pressure is turned on, the toddler might just shut the activity down.
You know what, you can encourage, play games and do the very best you possibly can, but when it boils down to it, your toddler will do what all toddlers (and grown up's) do; when they're ready they'll do what they know they should: in this case use the cutlery. Anyway, enjoy those flying food moments and the smeary cheeks, oh and discovering goo in your hair moments, because before you know it you'll have two grown girls. Enjoy these moments, they are really precious
Having cute little spoons and forks that are comfortable to hold in their little hands also helps. There are many different kid-friendly spoons etc. available, but not all of them work well. The real test is trying to use them yourself to see whether they work well to eat with and are easy to hold nicely. Good luck!
Young toddlers lack the coordination to use cutlery effective. Just have them available at all meals and be patient. All of the things we cringe at toddlers doing will pass - you rarely see an adult doing those things so they do tend to pass away as they grow.
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