Teaching them how to use tableware.

Amy - posted on 04/08/2011 ( 30 moms have responded )

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I have come across quite a few threads lately where people are introducing forks and spoons for the first time to a 3 year old. Letting 6 year old children use sippy cups all the time and won't let them use real plates. They also let them have a bottle until they are 4.

I guess I never understood this. Someone can explain it to me. My son just turned 2 and uses a GLASS cup at supper and breakable plates. We've broken two cups in 6 months, but you have to learn to be careful, I think. He's had plastic silverware since he was sitting at the table and at about 18 months was using regular sized silverware. Am I just the odd duck out? Even if he wants a drink between meals the cup just stays at the table, he takes a drink and then sets it back on the table to go play.

I would think the longer you take to teach them or introduce them to it, the harder it would be for them to develop the skills. Any thoughts?

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LaCi - posted on 04/08/2011

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Mine's 2 (will be 3 in a couple months)



He uses forks/spoons, but most of the time just uses his fingers. He has the option of using the fork/spoon always, but I don't care about pushing it on him. I'd rather eat with my hands half the time, so why insist he doesn't?



He uses a normal plastic cup at meals, but throughout the house he gets a sippy cup. I'll be damned if a cup of juice is getting dumped on my new sofa, which I love dearly.



He's still eating in a high chair, because our table is bar height, not conducive to 3 year old meal time. So, I never give him a plate because the food just gets plopped on his tray.



I guess I'm just one who doesn't see the big deal in it all. Probably because I couldn't give a shit less about etiquette and so on, prefer finger foods myself, and hate scrubbing spills.





Maybe I'd be concerned if he were incapable of using utensils and cups, but I know he can and he does when he wants, so him choosing not to or my using a sippy cup to keep the place cleaner isn't a big deal to me.

Minnie - posted on 04/08/2011

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My girls have had their own utensils since they began solids. Just playing with them and observing the rest of the family using them led to them being able to use them by about ten months.

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As with all things this depends on the child. My daughter has been using real utensils (excluding knives) since about 10 months. As an almost three year old, she can almost cut her own food (lacks some strenght to do so) and butter her own bread. She can use a real cup, but usually will chose a sippy, simply because her sippies have Elmo or Disney Princesses on them. However, I have a friend whose 3.5 year old struggles with cutlery. It's not from lack of trying to teach her. The extinuating circumstances are that she had a tumor removed from her brain when she was a year old. She struggles with all fine motor skills...but greatly excells in language, whereas my daughter is still hard to understand sometimes. So while I agree that 3 is too late to INTRODUCE cutlery, we still have to remember that all children develop differently and have varying skills and abilities.

Medic - posted on 04/08/2011

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I thought it was normal to start kids on silverware at around 1...now can someone please inform my 14 month old of that!?!?(she just throws them) On my sons second birthday we threw out all sippy cups so he could only use real cups, granted we don't have any real glasses or breakable plates (you can ask my husband where they all went) but we have really nice plastic plates and what not and my kids do have their own dishes, they are adult sized but in fun colors for them. I do get where you are coming from, one of my friends says she still lets her 4 year old use a sippy so she can take drinks and stuff in the car....my son has used those reusable water bottles that you unscrew the tops to drink since he was two and I just put whatever it is he wants to drink in it, usually milk, juice, water or tea. My 14 month old can and usually at meals drinks out of a regular cup, and that is how she eats her cereal and yogurt because I put a spoon in it and walk away.

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Alahnna - posted on 04/10/2011

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I run a daycare in my home and all of my children use utensils, but I do allow them to use theri hands when they are younger as well. My preschoolers use their utensils all the time unless it's a finger food. My toddlers (18 months to 3 years) use their utensils a lot of the time, but I still allow use of fingers, just remind them to use the utensils and guide a bite to their mouth every once in a while. My infants,I always give them a spoon when it's something we would eat with a utensil and they pretty much always use their fingers, but they do make attempts with the spoon quite a bit and I do hand over hand to help them learn. Children love being independent, it gives them a sense of accomplishment

Jodi - posted on 04/09/2011

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"Maybe the boy that Jodi was talking about wasn't used to using knives?... "

April, I am in Australia, and the boy is several generations Irish Australian.....so it isn't a *cultural* thing :) I strongly suspect that mum still cuts up their food for them all - he has a much younger brother, and maybe mum just cuts all the meat up because it is easier, so that is probably the reason.

However, I have read statistics that some enormous percentage of teens still can't correctly use their silverware. I can't remember exactly what the percentage was, but it was high enough to quite shock me.

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My son is 7 months old, and we follow Baby-Led Solids. I think this way is more natural than spoon-feeding. We do use a spoon for yogurt, but I give it to him and he handles it himself.

He doesn't use a sippy cup. We have one, but he seems confused by it. I help him hold a small, regular (plastic) cup to his mouth. I hope he will soon learn to do it on his own.

April - posted on 04/08/2011

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In this country, people don't use knives. They use a spoon and a fork. They cut with their spoon. I found this so amusing when i first came here because i'm from Australia so i use knives. When i asked my husband about it he just said that thats the way it is here, either spoon and fork or hands. Maybe the boy that Jodi was talking about wasn't used to using knives?... But then again my husband can use a knife... LOL never mind.

Sal - posted on 04/08/2011

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and i know exactly what jodi is talking about in the first post, watching a teenager who has never been taught even the most basic of manners is so sad, i also hate having kids who aren't taught to eat a wide varity of foods (special dietry requirements aside) it is embrassing for the kids and the host alike and i feel laziness on the parents part

Sal - posted on 04/08/2011

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we do both, when we are having faimily meals all together it is glasses, big knives as forks and proper china napkins, if it is lunch or just the little ones dinning i usually go for the kids stuff, i also try and take the kids out to morning tea or lunch regulary so they can practice restraunt manners...

Joanna - posted on 04/08/2011

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Yeah, my 3.5 year old has my clumsiness... She uses plastic cups, plastic plates, and kids silverware. We just recently introduced kids knives to her... That's a spectacle. And she gets a sippy cup of milk and cup of cheerios in the am for breakfast, it's always been that way... Because we always spend that time cuddling on the couch and watching a short show. She also gets a sippy cup of water by her bed. We tried a cup, but every night shed spill it and cry.

Johnny - posted on 04/08/2011

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Yeah, I was pretty sure that it was likely that my daughter would inherit my hubby & I's clumsiness (they don't call me Klutzy Carol for nothing). So it never occurred to me that giving her glass glasses would be a good idea.

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We give our kids tableware by the time they are interested in holding, playing, and using it themselves. We use "real" plates when we have solids and we use bowls when we have soup or cereal. My kids stopped using "sippy cups" when they were 18 mos. old. They leave their drinks at the table and we have NEVER broken cups. ( I don't allow my glass glasses to be used except by myself or DH.)

April - posted on 04/08/2011

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My two year old has her own non-plastic spoon, fork and plate. She won't eat without them. She also drinks from a glass...well used to drink out of a glass. She's broken so many glasses that i'm afraid she'll hurt herself, (she has this bad habit of running around with her glass or cup). She only drinks out of plastic cups now so if ever she drops it no harm comes to her, plus i'm sick of watching the glass she was holding drop in slow-mo to the ground as i dive to catch it before it hits the floor. :/

I always made sure she knew how to use everything we used at the table. We didn't really have a choice anyway, she copied whatever we did LOL

Stifler's - posted on 04/08/2011

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I have all glasses and use them all the time lol it wasn't until recently we invested in plastic cups to use outside and take on picnics and for Logan to eventually drink out of instead of his take and toss sippy cups with no lid.

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Johnny, my ex and I got a set of 8 glasses for a wedding present. In the first year of our marriage I broke 5, he broke 2, and his cousin broke one. THAT would be why we don't own glass in this house. ;) lol

Johnny - posted on 04/08/2011

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My daughter has been using a spoon since about 10 or 11 months. Now she's 2 1/2 and working on getting the fork/knife thing figured out. We are really careful with it though, and don't let her use the knife while we are busy eating because she's a bit cavalier waving it around. We want our eyes on her. She does often get lazy and eat with her hands though, if she's having a hard time making something work. For now, I let it go, but as she gets older I will insist. Currently I do not want to have battles at the dinner table.

We just use plastic glasses though at home. Even my husband and I often use metal mugs or plastic cups. Both of us have broken quite a few glasses, and we really worry about the shards with wall-to-wall carpeting. Even after vacuuming, we've had glass in the foot incidents.

We do stick to regular dinnerware though. She has her Bunnykins set and is allowed to use its ceramic mug on special occasions.

We also do a lot of cooking with her, so she's used many kitchen utensils. My hubby has been trying to teach her chopsticks but she just ends up stabbing the food with them, lol.

Pia - posted on 04/08/2011

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My partner would like my nearly three year old to be fed and not eat himself but how will he learn otherwise!
I've been letting him have a spoon since he started in solids, and he can now cut his own food (easy food not meat and stuff). Yes he makes a mess, but i just put some newspaper underneath his chair.
Seriosuky, 4? How do you expect a child to get by I the world if they don't have the basic skills for life!!

Stifler's - posted on 04/08/2011

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It's because people don't want their kid to make a mess. I can't stand seeing 3 year olds swigging on bottles or over 1 year olds being spoon fed and never being allowed to make a mess and use their own spoon. My 1 year old uses a fork (a toddler size fork not a normal people size fork) and is currently attempting to use a normal glass/cup. Sure he isn't full quid at it but he tries and gets the concept of cutlery. They need to be allowed to make a mess and learn.

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We don't own glass cups and I usually give my son a sippy when he's not in his chair (not always though). Other than that... I agree w/ you.

Mary - posted on 04/08/2011

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Krista, Molly is the same; God forbid I forget to give her a fork, even if she's just eating finger foods that adults eat with their hands! Last night, she spent forever eating raspberries with her fork (and I think some of you have seen the video of her eating dry cheerios with one as well; somehow, she made that work!)

For a while, we had the kid-sized utensils, but little madam wants no part of them; after eating several meals where she wanted a "big" fork (meaning mine) and I ended up eating with her toddler fork, I finally just started giving her a regular one, to save myself the aggravation of that little trade.

We had a bunch of those cutesy melamine kiddie plates, but they recently went to Goodwill; girlfriend eats off of the same plates we do.

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Forks and spoons that are sliver.I personally could not do.My first chipped her tooth when daddy thought he would give her one.Theres a time and age for this stuff and before 4-5 was not the time for us.



They had safe forks and spoons not silver ones.My daughter then went to silver at age 4 and was fine.Shes six years old now.I will do the same for my 2 year old aswell.



Sippy cup past 3 i don't do for teeth issues.

Jocelyn - posted on 04/08/2011

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Wow. 3 years??!! That's kinda ridiculous imo.
I just left a bowl of cereal and milk (with a real spoon!) in front of my 18 month old daughter. And she finished it all with very little mess.
I started letting both my kids "play" with utensils before their first birthday.
Granted, we do still use sippy cups, but that's for my own sanity. They both know how to use a real cup (but some days I just want to put the juice in a controlled cup lol)

Amber - posted on 04/08/2011

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I definitely don't think you're the odd one out.
My son has had tiny plastic forks and spoons since he started feeding himself. He didn't always use them, but they were sitting there for him to explore.

As for the cups, my son drinks out of a regular cup and has since about age 2 at the table. During play time he has sport type bottles that have straws or nozzles that close. Our family room is downstairs; I don't want him spilling all over the place, and I don't want him running up and down the stairs every 5 minutes either.

We also started table manners as soon as he was at the table. I think that's my biggest complaint with eating. It drives me crazy when food is flying, children are screaming, and kids are running back and forth from table to toys.

Lady Heather - posted on 04/08/2011

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I can't believe that a kid wouldn't ask to use a fork and spoon before age 3! My daughter would not be pleased if mum and dad had a fork and she didn't. Haha. She started playing with a spoon when shes started solids. She got a fork when she turned one. At nearly 22 months she usually uses a dessert fork. Guess she'll get a knife when she turns 2. hehe. She's really good with a cup, but for non-meal times she has a sippy because she likes to share with the pets when I'm not looking. Hasn't affected her ability to drink from a glass at all, so I'm not worried. Plus they are easier to pop in the stroller when we're out (I don't drive so our outings can take a loooong time).

Jodi - posted on 04/08/2011

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My son is 13. We had one of his friends overnight not so long ago. We had a meal of veal scallopine, mash and vegetables. I watched this boy (covertly) try to cut the veal.....it was kind of sad. He was trying so hard, and I could see him looking at how we were holding our knife, and then trying....I honestly wasn't sure how to handle it. In the end he managed, but I was just totally floored. Even my 6 year old handles a knife better than that.

So this is what these parents can look forward to....a child you can't take to a restaurant.

Bonnie - posted on 04/08/2011

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A 3 year old using a fork and spoon for the first time?? I wonder how the child has been eating all this time. Maybe fed by the parents?

My boys started feeding themselves with the smaller spoons for babies at around 8-9 months. Okay, they made a mess, but practice helped. They were using toddler cutlery by 16 months and a regular spoon and fork by 2.5. My 2.5 year old still uses a sippy cup. My 4.5 year old does not.

Krista - posted on 04/08/2011

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I agree that 3 is WAY too late to be introducing them to cutlery. I gave my son a fork and spoon when he was about 11 months old. And he had very little success with it at first, but now, at 19 months, is a pro. (Sometimes I forget to give him his fork, if he's just having finger foods for supper, and he gets pissed off and won't eat if he doesn't have his fork. Seriously. The kid eats his TOAST with a fork.)

As far as sippy cups go, I don't have an issue with them using sippy cups through most of toddlerhood. But once they hit pre-school age, then yeah, it's time to transition to a proper glass.

Louise - posted on 04/08/2011

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I think you are right my daughter is just under 2.5 and she has used a spoon and a fork since she was 18 months old and is slowly moving ove to a childs knife and fork. However she still has a fast flow spout cup as she has not got the coordination to use a normal cup yet. i really do no not agree with parents using sippy cups at 4 and teaching your child table manners should come along time before that. Having worked in a school dinner hall I can tell you that you are in the minority here as more than half of the children where unable to cut up there dinner and hold a knife and fork correctly.

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