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April 13, 2018

Using a Fork -- Montessori Young Toddler Week 19

When Gus first started eating, way back when he was around 6 months old, we immediately introduced him to real plates, cups, and spoons. By real, I mean ceramic plates/bowls, real metal spoons, and glass cups. Since that time he has continued to eat with these real tools available to him. Throughout this process, however, the goal has never been perfection, it's just been to have the tools available for him to experience as he felt compelled to try them. 

Montessori and weaning - introducing a fork with your baby or toddler

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His weaning spoon, in particular, was always available, but that doesn't mean it was always used. But as he has gotten older, he has taken a greater interest in eating with utensils. A few weeks ago, I saw that he was very very interested in trying to eat with my fork so I finally ordered some small forks of his own. 

I purchased mine from Michael Olaf Montessori shop, but they are Oneida brand. I believe they are the same as this set {or this set with a knife included}, or very close to it. They are absolutely the perfect size for Gus to manipulate and use. He could have been introduced to them earlier even! And since introducing them, he absolutely prefers a fork over a spoon - even for eating yogurt, like in these pictures! I think if we have another baby, I may even introduce shortly after starting the weaning process. 

I just want to make it clear that we never force Gus to use these. It's just one tool that is available to him if he would like. It's also not something that I have done a bunch of lessons on or something. With his absorbent mind, Gus has watched us eat and this interest has come from his observation. But, if he chooses to eat with his hands, that's totally fine too. As Silvana Montanaro says in Understanding the Human Being, "We need to understand that the hand is an important tool when learning how to eat.  The ability to use other tools will certainly come...The child must feel that he is in control of the situation and should never have the need to finish anything imposed on him." 

Often Gus still prefers his hands or some combination of fork and hand. He frequently picks up a small piece and puts it on his fork then eats it, for example. And, we allow for all that sort of exploration. I know that proper fork use will come with time and he will eventually stop using his hands to eat. But, it's not an issue I push or address right now. 

So if you want your baby to eat with a fork - make it available, give it time, and model how to eat with your child. The fork eating will follow naturally! 

Montessori and weaning - introducing a fork with your baby or toddler

Does your toddler or baby eat with a fork? 


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Unknown said…
My little girl is almost 16 months old. She is still eating off her high chair tray. I really want to use plates with her, but she just dumps all the food, or pushes it on the floor. How do I prevent this? Or respond? Thanks!
Candy said…
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Montessori at Home in Miami
How do you balance “follow the child” and the Montessori notion that children are not mini-adults with giving young babies “real” materials so to speak. I completely respect any parent’s decision to give their child glass and ceramic etc. but personally I have not been able to rationalize how glass and ceramic for infants and toddlers make sense. I have not seen signs yet that my 15-month old is ready for these materials and don’t really understand the benefit other than mini-adulting him. While there are benefits for speech, dexterity and independence to allow a child to feed himself and using a real cup as opposed to a sippy cup or bottle— I can’t wrap my head around what is so bad about plastic. My 15-month old loves dropping his food, cup, and everything on the floor so I wonder how this works with breakable materials at every single meal and snack. Again, I am posing this question here because you have the platform that allows for this discussion but it is in no way meant as a personal attack and I love you and your blog. I just have not been able to get on board with this widely-accepted Montessori notion.
Carolina said…
It’s because you are able to teach them consequences. If this falls, it breaks. But I see your point. And another good point: plastic is bad for the earth, we should stop using it. :)
I’ve seen some moms that really succeeded while using ceramic and glass at early age. So why not?