Once your baby has started solids, it can be a messy experience! Food flying across the room and falling to the floor, it often seems that most of it goes to waste and only a few bits go in their mouth.
But they all get there in the end…
When your baby is comfortable self-feeding with their hands using the pincer grasp action, you might want to think about spoon-feeding. But what should you use first? Plastic ones or metal? In this article let’s look at this topic in more detail.
- 1 When should you introduce metal cutlery?
- 2 How do you introduce cutlery to a baby?
- 3 Which spoon is best?
When should you introduce metal cutlery?
You should really delay using metal cutlery until your baby is comfortable using plastic, rubber or even wood ones first. For most children, this is around 18 months or slightly older.
For a more exact answer, it really depends on a couple of factors:
- How good is your child at self-feeding with a softer spoon? Are their fine-motor skills developed enough that they can do this with at least some control? If they’re still waving a spoon all over the place during mealtimes you might want to hold off giving them a metal utensil!
- Do they still bite down a lot when they’re eating? Biting down on a soft, plastic spoon is fine, but a hard metal one? That can be painful for your baby.
When should you introduce a knife and fork?
Once your child has learnt how to scoop with a spoon to feed themselves, you can think about introducing a fork. For most children, they are ready to use a fork to stab at a piece of food between 2-3 years old. You will probably want to hold off using a knife though as it takes children quite a while to learn how to cut and spread. Most won’t be ready for this until they are about 5 years old. And they’ll likely be about 7 years old when their fine motor skills are developed enough to use a knife and fork properly.
Is it bad for babies to bite on metal? Are metal spoons bad?
The main drawback of using metal spoons too early is that the material is too hard on a baby’s sensitive gums and teeth. At this age, they often bite down on the utensil to eat the food and this can painful if you’re using metal cutlery.
Also, metal can get hot and cold very quickly. If you’re a bit distracted giving your baby some hot or cold food by leaving a metal spoon in for too long, it can be surprising (and sometimes unpleasant) for your infant when they put it in their mouth. Young children are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
Can babies use silver spoons?
Some cultures believe it’s better for babies to eat from silver cutlery. However, there are no health benefits of using silverware, but there’s no harm in doing so either.
My mother-in-law often fed my daughter with a silver spoon, but the only thing I noticed is that this particular metal heats up quickly so take care when you use it and don’t leave it in hot food for too long.
How do you introduce cutlery to a baby?
Most babies are ready to use a spoon by themselves when they are around 10-12 months old, but you can start feeding them with one when they are around 6-9 months. However, they will probably be 18-24 months when they can really start to feed themselves properly. Look for signs that they are reaching for a spoon during mealtimes, and looking at how you are eating your food with cutlery.
If you think your baby is ready, here are some general tips to bear in mind:
- Make sure they are sitting comfortably in their high chair with their feet and back well supported. This will allow their arms to be free to focus on picking up a spoon and trying to feed themselves.
- Start with a spoon first, and try to go for ones which have bright colours as this can make it more appealing for your baby. Ensure the spoon isn’t too heavy either.
- Use a bowl rather than a plate as this makes it easier to scoop.
- Consider placing a mat underneath the bowl so it doesn’t slide about all over the place.
- Be patient and understand it takes time for your baby to learn this new skill. It will be messy and that’s perfectly normal.
- Have the same routine when you feed your baby and place their bowl and spoon the same way every time.
Best foods for introducing cutlery
You want to choose foods that you can easily scoop with a spoon. Here are a few options:
- Puréed soups (you can make soups from courgettes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot and other vegetables)
- Mashed potato
What do you do if they won’t eat from a spoon?
Don’t get frustrated if your baby won’t eat from a spoon. Try using a different spoon and don’t overload it when you’re feeding them. All babies and toddlers learn at a different pace and try to be guided by them as they learn this new skill. They’ll get there in the end!
Which spoon is best?
While you want to hold off from using metal cutlery at first, you’ll want something softer for your baby to eat from. Whatever you choose make sure it’s completely free from BPA and phthalates. Here are some good options.
Silicone is very soft on your baby’s teeth and gums so it’s a good choice to start with. The Monee Baby Spoons meet all the safety requirements, and they’re microwave and dishwasher safe. The handle of the spoons double as a teether, and the spoon has soft edges. We used these with my daughter. They come in a range of colours, and they are not that expensive.
For an organic option, you might want to consider the Bambusi Premium Bamboo Baby Spoons. These have bamboo handles with a silicone tip which makes it softer for your baby to eat from.
If you’re keen on buying a metal spoon for your baby, the Avanchy Stainless Steel Infant Spoons are a good choice. The solid stainless steel ensures that the spoons can’t be bent or damaged. Furthermore, they don’t need to be sterilized and they should last a long time. They are also free from any harmful chemicals.