Ever wondered how on earth your little one is going to get to grips with kids’ cutlery? From spoon-feeding and self-feeding with their hands, to then needing to learn a completely new skill of feeding with a fork? Needless to say, it’s often a long and messy journey.
My almost-three-year old is only just now really getting good at using her fork. She’s always preferred the speed and efficiency of using her hands, having been brought up on Baby-Led-Weaning and self-feeding. So now, going through the same process with my second daughter, who’s now 9-months, I started to wonder, “Is there a better way?”.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Rennae from Grabease Australia, a company that makes innovative cutlery for little hands. I was really curious about the cutlery, and wanted to try it out with Addie. But first, I had a few questions for Rennae . Here’s what she had to say…
My 5 Questions for Rennae from Grabease
What is a good age to start using cutlery and why?
Technically there is no right or wrong age, but I would say, the earlier the better. Grabease is suitable from 6 months. I think with anything, the more a baby handles something and gets the opportunity to play with it, the more competent they will become. I started using Grabease with my daughter at 7 months and put them out for her with every meal. Now at 12 months she has a very finely developed pincer grip and already has her pencil grasp because she has been practicing for the last 6 months.
What are the benefits from starting kids’ cutlery at a younger age?
Just like Baby-Led Weaning, cutlery is all about nurturing a baby’s independence. The earlier they familiarize themselves with utensils, the sooner they will be able to self-feed, which alleviates a lot of frustrations for both baby and parent around mealtimes. A happy baby makes a happy parent, right! As well as this sense of achievement, Grabease are a developmental tool. Your baby will not only be emotionally content, but will be physically developing fine motor skills that lead into so many other aspects of childhood development, particularly the pincer grip and pencil grasp. Delaying introduction is limiting a baby’s capabilities.
How does introducing cutlery tie in to introducing solids/BLW
Baby-Led Weaning and using cutlery go hand-in-hand. One does not replace the other, they complement each other. The BLW journey with hands is very important as it helps a baby to experience texture and it is all important for the gag reflex. Utensils then bring to the table the next developmental step in learning about mealtime etiquette and motor development, as well as speech development. The thing they have in common is that baby is in complete control and is self-feeding, which is everything that Baby-Led Weaning stands for.
What issues do parents/children face around traditional kids’ cutlery? What is your solution to that?
Let’s talk about traditional children’s cutlery. They look very much like adult cutlery, just scaled down to a small size as perceived by an adult. However, if you put a traditional child’s spoon next to a baby’s arm, you will see that a “child size” spoon is actually the same length as a 12-month old’s forearm! If adults used the same proportions in utensils when we ate we’d be eating with a serving spoon. So, therein lies the major design flaw. Traditional children’s utensils are too big.
Then there is improper hand-hold. Due to the long handle a child can’t use a proper vertical hand grasp to use them, so they hold these handles with a fist. This doesn’t encourage fine motor development, if anything it hinders it because the handle is always too long to hold vertically. Why is this vertical hand grasp so important? The vertical hand grasp is a baby’s natural hold, and is how they develop their pincer grip and pencil grasp. So, if they aren’t using those hand muscles correctly they aren’t going to develop it properly for school age.
There really is only one solution and that’s Grabease. They encourage vertical and horizontal hold because of the short ergonomic handle and have been endorsed by Occupational Therapists due to this revolutionary feature.
Tell us a bit about Grabease cutlery and why you love it?
I’m a Mum of two. When I had my son, who is now 5, I did Baby-Led Weaning with him and noticed so many gaps in the feeding product market and I had ideas all those years ago to start my own line of smocks and utensils. Skip ahead 4 years and I had just had my daughter when all the same problems started cropping up again, with the lack of good quality feeding products, so I decided to design my own. When I set the wheels in motion I also started a blog to help other families with Baby-Led Weaning and through that process I found Grabease on Instagram. I couldn’t believe it! It was pretty much the design I had in my head! So, I contacted the developer and here I am, the proud face of Grabease Australia.
The reason I loved them so much was that they were the right size for a baby and were made for their current and developing skill set. They aren’t JUST utensils, they are a developmental tool. They nurture independence, they are non-toxic, they have a choke guard for safety. Really, Grabease ticks ALL the boxes! When I first gave them to my daughter at 7 months she could instantly pick them up and bring them to her mouth. From that moment, we haven’t looked back. Grabease is the only choice in infant cutlery, I can confidently say, that no other utensil even comes close.
Rennae very kindly sent us a set of Grabease cutlery and Addie has given them a go! She is able to pick them up and get them to her mouth without a problem. Yippee! However, getting food on them and into her mouth will take a good bit of practise. But I’m eager to see her develop this skill! As Rennae mentioned, it’s critical to offer that regular exposure to the cutlery. This way, babies learn that cutlery is a part of meal times, and with practice, they’ll soon master the new skill.
I’m so excited to see how Addie gets on with her Grabease cutlery. Follow me on Instagram and Facebook, and I’ll keep you updated as Addie gets better with them! And if you want to check out the cute and colourful cutlery yourself, and maybe grab a pair for your own little one, then hop over to Grabease Australia’s website page, Facebook page and Instagram for more!