H.B. asks from Minneapolis, MN on October 02, 2008
Am I Too Late Introducing a Spoon and Fork?
I have a lovely 15-mo old boy who is a pretty good eater, but shows little interest in feeding himself with a fork or spoon. He will eat with his fingers if the food is mostly dry, but he hates getting his hands too dirty- so anything wet, not firm or slimy has to be fed to him or he won't eat it. This includes fresh fruit, pastas, yogurts, anything in a sauce, some vegis, the list goes on.
Did I completely miss the boat in introducing him to a spoon and fork by now? I see other kids his age spooning their yogurt and applesauce happily, and mine just sits there expecting to be spoonfed like a diva. How can I get him interested? We just had another baby, so having him be a bit more self-reliant would be awesome around dinnertime.
So What Happened?™
Thanks so much! I'm glad to see that I'm not behind- and your suggestions have already helped. I'm letting him hold a spoon during feedings, and he thinks its fun to bang it on his tray and dig into his food. Its a good start!
N.S. answers from Minneapolis on October 02, 2008
It's never too late. Besides, my kids liked getting spoon fed until they were 3!! However, if I got too busy to feed them, and they were really hungry, they would use a spoon if one was handy out of necessity! I think young children in general enjoy being fed. They have a sense they're growing up, and I think some kids relish being the "baby" as long as they can. You can tie it into the whole comfort food mentality. They get comfort and well being from being attended to by mom, while eating something yummy. What's wrong with that? As they grow up, those moments will be few.
I know these days there's all this pressure on parents to keep kids on development schedules. Further, there's alot of concerns about spoiling kids, or making them develop bad habits. I say phooey. Medical books can not fairly evaluate what your kids need emotionally. I also blame these pressures on daycare centers and early ed programs that want your kids self-sufficient and ready to take care of themselves to cut down on exta work, all in the name of teaching them valuable developmental skills.
I personally don't see a harm in feeding them with a spoon if you yourself don't mind doing it, you have the time, and aren't bothered by comments from others from time to time. Believe me, when they hit the age of reason, and begin to worry about their peers and want to do what they're doing, the spoon feeding will end. Peer pressure starts as early as preschool, and it's a roller coaster ride from there. So enjoy being a mommy a little longer, and don't worry about missing any boats.
If you want, you can always give him toy spoons and dishes and encourage him to care for and feed a stuffed friend, or give him a real spoon, some pastas or mini-counters from a learning store, and let him play/practice using a spoon to get the toys into a cup or bowl. He just might not have the fine motor skills to handle a spoon and is one of those perfectionist types that would rather do it well, or not all. Don't worry. As I already said, he'll eventually feed himself in good time and when he's ready. But until then, you can make spoons something fun and a learning experience. Just always have the spoons handy at meals so he can experiment when he's ready. Also look into toddler friendly spoons that make eating easier. Check out www.onestepahead.com and click on feeding. They have a few different types.
S.C. answers from Minneapolis on October 03, 2008
My son wouldn't touch anything wet or slimy for a long time either. Just keep setting the spoons and forks out and he will eventually use them
M.M. answers from Minneapolis on October 04, 2008
Actually I think somewhere around then is actually when I introduced them. May have actually been closer to 18 months. We started with spoons. Added a SPORK and not until three added forks (if memory serves me right). We never looked at age, we waited for developmental feeding cues. I would just make TODDLER ones available and they will pick them up and use them. It is a hand mouth coordination they need to work out, but they do it, especially if you are eating at least one meal as a family and he sees you. You are fine. Go get some cool big handled ones from Walmart. They are even where the other dishes are. Do not get the ones intended for adults to us on kids. Get the WIDE handle ones. Believe it or not, wide handles are better trainers than regular forks.
S.K. answers from Minneapolis on October 03, 2008
By no means is he really behind; this is a great time to transition him. I usually start with mashed potatoes and oatmeal and sweet potatoes, because they stick to the spoon. I still feed my kids at first, but offer them their own spoon so they can help. It can take a few weeks for them to get the hang of it, and you will have to scrape the bowl still for a while, but he will get it.
If a few months from now, he still has no interest in feeding himself, it may be time to put your foot down and do not handle the spoon for him anymore. I have seen 3 year olds who still have their mothers spoon feed them everything. It's not good. But 15 months is a great learning time.
B.B. answers from Minneapolis on October 03, 2008
I don't think it's too late to start him with a little spoon & fork. I think that's about when I started it with my son, and he liked it. I think he felt like one of the grown-ups using them. We showed him how to "stab his green beans" and put them in his mouth, and he thought that was pretty cool. The spoon is a little trickier. They have to learn to keep it straight or their food will fall right off. But he'll get it! Just make sure you give him little kid-sized ones, and try to make it fun!