Babies and toddlers are continually learning and developing their motor skills, cognitive ability, and personal habits and preferences. For parents, there’s nothing quite as exciting as watching their kids steadily scaling new mental heights and achieving new physical milestones. Sometimes though, parents need to take control of their development, particularly when it involves complicated areas that require multiple leaps of mental and physical advancements such as developing healthy eating habits.
A great way to start toddlers on the right path is by introducing children’s cutlery sets at meal time. However, when shopping for kids cutlery sets, please make sure that they are appropriately sized, and can fit into the toddler’s hands. Make certain as well that the utensils have rounded tips to prevent them from accidentally harming themselves and others. Obviously, get cutlery that is light instead of heavy stainless-steel ones. Baby spoons, forks and plates made from plastic and wood fibre (MDF) are great starter choices.
It bears reminding that you should manage your expectations. Toddlers will not learn table etiquette overnight and turn into children from the royal household. You should also continue to expect food on the table, floor and walls for the foreseeable future. The objective here is to make baby steps – not to trigger a radical revolution.
Start with a spoon and a plate
You can start to introduce a baby spoon and plate to your toddler when they are around six months old. Simply place the spoon and plate in front of your child while you are feeding him. Get your baby comfortable to the presence of cutleries. Occasionally, drop a little baby food on the plate and spoon. After a period of time (ranging from days to weeks or months), your baby will eventually put two and two together and start to put food in the mouth using the spoon.
By the time they reach one year old, around the time when they start to eat solids, you can begin to include a fork into the equation. Demonstrate how the forks are used. Once again, your kid will pick up on it. Once your toddler has developed sufficient hand dexterity (probably between 15 and 18 months old), you can include a baby knife to his or her list of approved cutleries.
Setting the table
Setting the table with your baby is a great social reinforcement tool. Your toddler will learn that cutleries are a part of every meal, and through observation, recognise that other family members are also using similar eating utensils. Toddlers will be motivated to master the use of cutleries in an attempt to emulate their parents and siblings.
Next, inculcate heavy eating habits though example. During every meal, make sure every member of the family start with the greens first. Vegetables will never be the favourite food of children, but strong childhood reinforcement will compel them to start every meal with vegetables. Half the battle is already won right there. Extend the indoctrination to soups (during meals) and fruits (at the end of meals) as well to create a healthy and balanced eating habit.
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