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Our Progression of Knives from 1 until 3-years-old

One of the hallmarks of a Montessori environment for toddlers is an emphasis on practical activities. Montessori toddlers love practical work and thrive on it. They are capable of so much more than most people think -- this includes in the kitchen. Part of what toddlers are exposed to in a kitchen include knives. Our progression of knives from 1 until 3-years-old has been exciting and challenging for Nora. 

A progression of knives for a Montessori toddler. Using knives is a great and practical way for a toddler to get involved in the kitchen.

I will be the first to admit that I am not great in the kitchen. so it is sometimes a challenge to keep my kids engaged. Nora, however, does seem drawn to these activities and knives have been no exception. While this is the path we have taken, other Montessori families may choose a different path depending on how active they are in the kitchen. Just remember to always supervise your toddler around a knife. 

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Which Knife Should I Introduce?

  1. Spreader -- This was the first knife we introduced at around 1-year-old. We used it for simple spreading, but also soft chopping. This included slicing bananas and other soft fruit and any other task she was doing as a young toddler in the kitchen

    At nearly 3-years-old, this is still a daily knife for her. But, now mostly for spreading -- like for her sandwiches at lunch

  2. Wavy Chopper -- This was the first sharper knife we introduced. We gave it to her around 18 months to start chopping harder foods, like carrots, celery, and potatoes. It's a great first knife because it requires two hands on top to push through the food, keeping little fingers away from the blade.

    Today, Nora rarely chooses this knife, I think it's often more effort than she wants to make to get the cut. But for harder food, it will still be what she chooses.

    A progression of knives for a Montessori toddler. Using knives is a great and practical way for a toddler to get involved in the kitchen.

  3. Wavy Chopper with Handle -- This has not been a super popular choice with Nora. It requires a lot of strength because the blade isn't as sharp as a regular knife. But with only one hand, it's harder to get the cut. We introduced this once Nora was strong and efficient with the wavy chopper. But, most of the time she just chose a different knife. 

  4. Nylon Knife -- We introduced this knife around 22 months. It has been Nora's go-to knife since. It is sharp enough to cut through hard food, soft food, and everything in between. While its serrated, it is not super sharp. It will scrape skin, but has never cut skin. Plus, they come in a few different sizes which is helpful for lots of cooking situations. 

    As I said, this is Nora's go-to knife, even now. She uses for nearly everything. 

  5. Paring Knife -- at 2.75-years-old, we are just introducing this knife. This is a real knife and very sharp. She is ready for a bit more now that she is moving carefully and is comfortable with larger knives. This will allow her to cut with a bit less effort and with more precision. 

A progression of knives for a Montessori toddler. Using knives is a great and practical way for a toddler to get involved in the kitchen.

This knife is the next knife that I am hoping to start with Nora. I don't think she is quite ready at this point, but once she becomes a little more confident with the paring knife we will be introducing it as we phase out the nylon knives.

Do you use knives with your toddlers? Which knives have you used? 


Shelley said…
This progression is helpful. We have the nylon knifes already, but I like seeing how you worked up to them! With food sensitivities we kinda live in our kitchen. Good reminder of how capable even my toddler is!
megan said…
I was just looking for this yesterday! Thanks for sharing again. Our 21 month old uses the spreader and wavy chopper. I have the nylon knives and have been a bit anxious about introducing it. What language do you use about safety? I want to use the obvious language, but also don't want to scare him too much. Maybe I'm overthinking it! TIA!

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