Learning how to use a knife and fork is an important step in a child’s development. It helps your child with both fine and gross motor skills as well as social skills.
Teaching kids to use a knife and fork doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply follow these tips and tutorials and you’re on your way!
6 Tips on Getting Started
At first, using a knife and fork together can be tricky. Every child is different, and some may need more help or opportunities to practice. It’s not uncommon for children to get tired easily, resulting in a tantrum or refusing to use them at all. These 6 tips will help you set your child up for success.
- Gather the right tools – There are plenty of kid-friendly options out there when it comes to cutlery and dishware, but choose carefully. Spoons should have a bowl shape for easy scooping. Handles should be easy to grip. And plates should have high sides to prevent food from easily slipping off.
- Think about how they’re sitting – Position and seating are important to make sure your child is supported and that they have a stable base. Feet should be on their highchair or booster’s footrest. Also make sure they are seated at the right height to be able to reach the table.
- Start with a spoon – If your child is just starting to use cutlery, begin by practicing with a spoon. Follow up with a fork, then finish by introducing the knife. Going step by step will help your child get used to each one and feel confident holding and using them.
- Choose the right foods – Not all foods work well when trying to teach your child how to use a knife and fork. Choose foods that are soft and easy to cut. Use a sauce with your rice and pasta to help it stick together and make it easier to scoop. Think about where they are in their development – try cutting foods like bananas or fish sticks before something more difficult like meat. Help your child by cooking vegetables to make them softer and easier to cut.
- Combine finger foods and cutlery – At first, you should resist the temptation to try and have them only use cutlery throughout the meal. Allow your child to go back and forth between finger foods and using cutlery.
- Eliminate distractions – Turn off the TV and put away any tablets or phones. Turn down any loud music. Doing this will help your child focus on what they are doing and they are less likely to be distracted.
6 Fun Activities You Can Do At Home
When you make things fun, your child will not even realize they’re learning. They will be more likely to participate and want to try new skills. It all starts with activities that help to strengthen their coordination in a fun way. If you want to know how to teach kids to use a knife and fork, give some of the activities a try!
- Cut up foods like a cheese stick or chocolate bar into smaller sections.
- Roll play dough into a snake shape then cut the snake into pieces.
- Use toy food held together with Velcro and cut apart with a toy knife. This set is a great option!
- Have a tea party and cut up play dough or real food to serve to dolls and toys.
- Focus on building hand strength by scooping sand or rice.
- Build dexterity by building with legos or drawing with crayons.
5 Knife and Fork Video Tutorials
YouTube is a great place to find video tutorials that will help your child master the knife and fork.
How to Use a Knife and Fork Together | OT & Me
With great close ups, this video helps your little one with proper finger and hand positions. She uses a banana, which is the perfect choice for learning to use a knife and fork – easy to cut without the mess!
Ernie’s Eating Utensils | Sesame Street
Sesame Street is a favorite of kids and adults alike. Ernie helps little ones (and Cookie Monster!) learn how to hold a knife and fork. It’s guaranteed to make your child laugh, combining fun with learning.
Knife and Fork Cutting Vegetables | LucasZone
Kids love to watch other kids learn and try new things. After watching Lucas practice using a knife and fork, your child will want to try it themselves.
Knife and Fork Skills | Bromley Healthcare
What’s more fun than playdough? Your child can follow along using their own knife and fork, and become more confident knowing where to place their fingers.
Learning to Use a Knife and Fork | Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
With the help of a puppet and some playdough, your child will learn the basics of using a knife and fork. This video has plenty of interaction and encouragement to help build your child’s confidence.
5 Helpful Tips to Remember
Keep these 5 tips in mind when teaching your child to use a knife and fork:
- Ignore the mess – Food can get messy. Add in a knife, spoon, and fork, and you’ve got an even bigger mess. Stressing over this can actually discourage your child from trying to do it on their own.
- Keep practicing – Learning a new skill takes time – and lots of practice! Repetition will only strengthen your child’s ability to use a knife and fork. Remember to stay positive and praise them for trying even when they fail.
- It’s all about timing – It’s best to try using cutlery when your child is happy and not too hungry. For example, if breakfast is their favorite meal, it may be a great time to practice. It’s also a good idea to allow them to start off by eating some food without using cutlery so they aren’t too hungry and therefore less likely to want to practice.
- Be the example – As always, you are your child’s best example. Use each utensil in the way you want them to use it. Let them see you scoop up food with a spoon or cut up your food into smaller pieces with a knife and fork.
- Get help when you need it – If you feel that your child may need extra help that you can’t provide, be sure to speak with their pediatrician. They can recommend an occupational therapist who can identify any problems and come up with a plan to help.
With practice, patience, and some creativity, learning how to teach kids to use a knife and fork is possible!