Mastering the Skill of Using Utensils
It might seem like yesterday when your child finally started solid foods, but now he's showing interest in using a fork and spoon to feed himself. This usually occurs between 15 to 18 months -- sometimes as early as 13 months -- although your child may not exhibit complete dexterity with the utensils until about age 4.
Initially, the idea of your child controlling a fork and spoon may seem daunting (and messy). But, as registered dietician Madeleine Sigman-Grant points out in Healthy Child magazine, "Observation, mimicry, and practice" are key to a toddler's success in mastering the skills necessary ... particularly as muscles and hand-eye coordination develops.
While adult-sized forks and spoons could be understandably intimidating to your child, venture first into the child-sized arena with small spoons and blunt-tined forks, which can be found online and in several retail outlets, including supermarkets. Those versions of the utensils will build confidence in your child while helping him navigate those first meals. (You'll still have to cut up his food for quite awhile, so no need to introduce him to knives just yet!)
Know that playtime away from the supper table can also help out a toddler. Using plastic trowels and scoops in the sandbox, or enjoying water play with cups and pitchers can be other ways kids can get a feel for tabletop utensils... and a fun way to work on physical and spatial skills.